Small Business Marketing: So what’s the role of a #Hashtag?
Hashtags are a byproduct of the internet and it’s pervasive influence on our culture at large. They have even begun to creep into our colloquial speech patterns thanks to the hilarious lampooning of them by Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon. But aside from appearing everywhere and being the butt of jokes related to their overuse, what is their significance for small business owners, and how can they turn them from a cloudy concept into something useful?
Let’s start simple: What is a Hashtag for? A hashtag, also known as a pound sign (#), first came into existence on Twitter by the user base as a way to quickly categorize and identify tweets on a certain topic, for example, #smallbiz pertains to small business topics and serves as a shorthand for those who are searching for related content. While the use of the hashtag began on twitter, as it gained acceptance it’s use has spread to all manner of social networks, including Facebook, G+, and Instagram to name a few. Ideally, using a hashtag will allow your content to appear before a wider range of viewers who are interested in what you are talking about.
What should you not do with hashtags? It’s important that small business owners, once they discover hashtags, don’t go #overboard with their usage. Twitter themselves caution against excessive use, and there are many sources who say that engagement with your tweets will go down after two tags as they can be considered spammy and difficult to read. It’s a matter of taste, of course, but if you really want to cover a wider range of hashtags, you are most likely better off spreading them through multiple, appropriately timed posts.
Use different hashtags for different applications. Using a more general hashtag that is a keyword related to your business or the content you produce is great if you are trying to get your content seen by as many people as possible, as these tags are much easier to find for people interested in discovering content related to a specific topic. On the other hand, if you are trying to track the response of your customers to specific offer, contest or incentive, then you might want to use something a bit more specific and less widely used. By doing this, you can avoid having to sift through countless unrelated posts and directly keep track of your client responses. This can be particularly important for small business owners experimenting with promoted tweets as they become cheaper.
Photo Credit to Maria Elena on Flickr