What’s the [Key] Word? Can Hashtags be used for Business?

BrandMe - Twitter Bird HashtagIf you are wondering what all of the buzz is about in social media with hashtags, do not worry, you are not alone wondering about the puzzlement of this social network trend. When a number sign is in front of a word or keyword, it is called a hashtag. Many people do not know the true intention of hashtags, and even more do not know how to use them [properly]. Earlier this week, U.S. late night show host and comedian Jimmy Fallon teamed up with Justin Timberlake for this skit to show people how silly they are when they use, or overuse, hashtags in social media.

The popularity of hashtags seems to be peaking now, especially since Facebook just recently enabled hashtags on their platform and just today Google announced that Google + Hashtags will be searchable in Google’s search queries. However, hashtags have been around on Twitter for a very long time. (Well, a long time in social media years – since 2009.) The real reason behind them was to be able to make popular trends, represented by keywords searchable on the social network. Here is a link to Twitter’s Best Practices for Hashtags.

So, as a business marketer, what do you need to know about hashtags in your social media posts?

  • Do not over use hashtags. If you are posting about your business, use relevant hashtags and not too many of them. Each post does not have to have any, and they especially do not need 3 or 5 hashtags per post. We can use Brandme’s social media posts for example, if there is a local trade show, we might use the hashtag for that trade show in a post or two. We might also use #PromotionalProducts, #Branding, or a more generic #TradeShow in some of our posts, but not all together in one post.
  • Ideally, you are trying to appeal to someone on Facebook that does not already follow you and clicks on a hashtag to search and find out more about that topic.
  • Do not use spaces or punctuation in your hashtags. Spaces and punctuation cuts off the link that the hashtag creates making it unsearchable.
  • Hashtags are not just for Facebook and Twitter. Explore other social networks and the use of hashtags in those platforms. Some social sites might lend themselves better to your particular type of business. Instagram and Pinterest both support hashtags, and of course, so does Google Plus.

While a recent study  showed that Hashtags used by brands on Facebook may not improve engagement, they can still increase your exposure on the social network, especially if you can legitimately and relevantly connect trending hashtags to your posts and your business.

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