Log on to most social media platforms and you’ll likely see a bunch of # signs floating around. No, they do not designate a phone number; instead, they’re an easy and useful way to grow your products and brand in a way that consumers are familiar with. Not sure what they mean or how they work? Stick with me. I’ll explain what hashtags are, why they’re useful and how to use them in your marketing practice.
What are hashtags?
According to Twitter, “The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”
Now, they’ve expanded beyond Twitter to many other social sharing sites—namely Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest—as a way to group like items into one. You simply put a # with a single word or phrase (make sure not to use punctuation or spaces) in your post, and it automatically turns into a clickable link.
It’s common to use hashtags for a big event, promotion, or product launch. For example, say you’re going to one of Cisco’s largest events, Cisco Live! You document your days by sharing your pictures on Instagram and stay updated with regular tweets, but add in the #CiscoLive hashtag and boom – you’re suddenly synced up with others who are also talking about Cisco Live! You instantly have a connection to others in the industry, thanks to this little symbol.
Why do hashtags matter?
- Networking. Using hashtags allows you to reach a new audience you might not have interacted with.
- Advertising. If people start hashtagging their photos or tweets with something related to your company or a campaign you’re running, their followers will also see this, possibly driving them to your site and, fingers crossed, becoming a new partner or customer.
- Building relationships. Click on a hashtag related to your product or industry and you’ll see not only what customers are interested in, but also what they’re saying. You can then start a conversation with these folks, leading to an introduction about your company or a solution to a problem they might be having.
- Relevance. By clicking on a hashtag, you’ll find tons of other tweets, images, and posts that are related. Try it: head to Twitter, search #CloudComputing and you’ll see hundreds of comments, articles, and photos related to the subject. It’s worthwhile to take some time to search for hashtags relevant to your company and industry to see what other products or information comes up.
There are a number of benefits to start adding that # sign to your posts. Does your company use them? Have you tried using hashtags in a marketing campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments below.