How to Use Hashtags for Your Small Business Social Media
February 10, 2015
Hashtags aren't just for Twitter anymore.
In fact, hashtags can be used on your Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Linkedin pages. And, if you use them effectively, hashtags can be a winning method of getting an audience for your small business social media postings.
But, you may ask, what is a "hashtag" and why are they so important? Hashtags which are written like this, "#hashtags", are words used in your postings and tweets that helps your content get found easier on search engines and social media websites. For instance, if you add the hashtag "#chocolatedessert" to your posting of a new dessert your restaurant is offering, it will be found quicker when someone is searching for it. This may result in a lead generation as that person may come to your restaurant and have a meal with your dessert.
Second, it places you in the middle of a much larger discussion on #chocolatedesserts. You can chat with others and provide information, facilitate a discussion and even promote your brand. Also, your interaction with chocolate dessert fans and bakers may even give you new ideas.
In other words: everybody wins with hashtags. Interaction, ideas and sales. As long as you use them correctly, of course.
So, here are Five Ways Your Small Business can Use Hashtags in Social Media Postings:
Add one or more hashtag to each posting: Use a hashtag in each of your postings, even if there is only one appropriate hashtag to use. Make it a regular practice to add it to your posting and content calendar (if you use one).
Do your hashtag research: Before you add the hashtag, go to your Twitter account and see if it's trending. You may have a great post for your product but if the hashtags aren't popular, you will receive no benefit from it. When you search for the hashtag, you'll see the last time it was used. If it's being searched the day of your posting, then you have one you need to use. If it was last used three months ago, it's not going to help you at all. So, keep searching until you find a relevant hashtag to your posting and business. Hashtags.org is also a strong resource for hasthtag research.
Avoid "Hashtag Stuffing": Nothing is more obnoxious than a Facebook or Twitter post with a ridiculous number of hashtags! What do we mean by ridiculous? Usually, three or less hashtags are acceptable, depending on the length. If you have a posting like this one: "Our widgets are on sale today for half off! #widgets #saleonwidgets #widget #widgetsinamerica #welovewidgets #sale..." and on and on. Not only is it obnoxious, it can be spammy and is also considered poor content which search engines usually penalize. Everyone loses from too many hashtags. Use three relevant hashtags with your post as a rule. Just like most things in life there are exceptions to the hashtag stuffing rule! Instagram is one of the social communities that does not frown up an abundance of hashtags. Always add your extended list of hashtags in a comment after your original post however so that it doesn’t fill up your followers screen.
Tag your company name separately: By doing this, you can create a bank of tweets and postings that are directly related to your company. Use them in product postings but don't use them for every posting or tweet as it might also get you suspended. Also make sure it is a short company hashtag. If your company name is long, reduce it for the hashtag.
Use them to identify sales or new products: If you are posting for lead generation and sales, then create a unique hashtag only for your business. For instance, your company has a sale on widgets, you use this hashtag: #SmithWidgetsNewYearsale. It will identify your company and can help in branding and search efforts.
Hashtags are an integral and crucial part of your social media strategy. They should be a part of any social media strategy as it increases your audience reach, triggers interaction with prospects and fans and can be a consistent lead generator.