What are Hashtags and How Can they Work for You?

    By Jessica Anderson | Small Business

    By now hashtags are everywhere; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even used ironically in everyday speech – Did you see how terrible a driver Nancy was? Hashtag Idonthaveanyideawhati’mdoingatall!

    Because hashtags have caught fire so quickly many business owners are scrambling to use them – but often they don’t take the time to understand quite how they work. If you’re an online business owner living in a hashtag haze, take a look at these 3 ways you can make hashtags work for you:

    1. Research

    Hashtags can let you know what is trending in your niche. Click on a certain hashtag to pull up a streaming feed of what your customers are saying about your business or brand as well as comments by other users. You can even use hashtags to track certain hits from certain demographics. Basically, hashtags have taken the work out of surveying your clientele.

    2. Focus

    Business owners can use a specific hashtag to focus discussions on a brand, event or topic. However, be aware that though your intentions may be the best, the public will do whatever they please with your hashtag. McDonald’s learned this the hard way when their purchased hashtag (which was supposed to promote stories of fun family/friend bonding within the walls of a Micky D’s) got away from them when users started posting horror stories of their visits with the tag #McDStories.

    3. Promotions

    Use hashtags to promote a new product or service by creating contests where users must tag their posts with a specific tag. Hashtags are useful for promoting any new campaign because they serve as chat threads, making monitoring conversations about your new promotion and keeping conversations active a piece of cake.

    So now you know the kinds of things hashtags can do for your business, but hashtags are complicated and sometimes finicky. There are a few things you should keep in mind before you start tagging:

    - Hashtags are not for afterthoughts. Keep tags short, simple and related to the rest of your message. For example, instead of: Ydraw Videos guarantees the best rates! #wewilloutdoanycompetitor, post something more like this: Ydraw Videos guarantees the best rates! We will outdo any competitor. #whiteboardvideo #ydraw.

    - If your hashtag must be longer than one or two words, capitalize each word to make it readable. A hashtag that reads #thelittlepeachtreedresssale is long, but will be better received by users if it’s readable: #theLittlePeachTreeDressSale. Ideally, though, it should read something like: #tLPTDressSale. Always keep your hashtags as concise as possible.

    - Hashtags aren’t compatible with punctuation or special characters. #We’llComeToYou will tag the word #We, but will leave the rest of the phrase drifting around in cyberspace. You’d be better off to use #WeComeToYou instead.

    - Even though Facebook has finally jumped on board the hashtag train, they do not go against the privacy policy – hashtags will only link to discussions that users have not chosen to keep private.

    - Stay relevant. If you want to tag the most popular tags in your post, but they have nothing to do with the rest of your message, you may see a boost in views but you also take the risk of offsetting your followers. For example: Today’s Special – Chicken Salad Sandwhich #TrayvonMartin #Belieber #JustGirlyThings is the kind of post that will let viewers know they can’t take you seriously. Keep your hashtags in tune with the rest of your post.

    #GoodLuck and #happy #tagging!

    More Social articles from Business 2 Community:

    Subscribe to our mailing list
    * indicates required
    Small Business Services