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How to Use Hashtags to Enhance Your Brand

by: Finella Kristle Panlilio

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 |

Hashtag usage is about the most common practice on the Internet these days. So common that even musician Justin Timberlake and host Jimmy Fallon made a spoof entirely dedicated to the #hashtag. Today’s modern entrepreneurs and businesses integrate hashtags into commercials, window displays, and websites. Consumers use hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to filter searches relevant to their interests, and to share their #TBTs (Throwback Thursday photos) and #FBFs (Flashback Friday).

Hashtags are popular because they allow you to find relevant content online in real time. When you search a specific hashtag, you find recent results. And these results can be refreshed and updated minute-by-minute. This is what differentiates hashtags from keyword terms on a search engine, where results could be several years old.

For businesses on social media, hashtags allow you to track conversations around your brand and what’s being said about your industry. Sure, they come with a pretty straightforward functionality, but hashtags can also be leveraged in other ways besides doing a simple search.

Hashtag strategies for your business

To use hashtags effectively for your business or start-up, check out these three key hashtag strategies:

1. Virtually attend and participate by using the event’s hashtag.
If you find yourself unable to attend an industry event due to insufficient budget or simply because you don’t have the time do so, you can always virtually participate by using the conference’s hashtag. You’ll be able to keep tabs on the event in the comfort of your own home or office, with no airfare or conference fees needed.

And you don’t even have to wait until the day of the event to get started! Conference and event planners usually share their specific hashtags well in advance to help attendees connect and network beforehand. Use the conference hashtag to keep up with industry trends and connect with the speakers.

You can start by searching the conference’s hashtag results on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on the days preceding the event. This also helps you determine who is speaking and when. On the day of the event, tune in to the conference livestream, decide which platform you’ll engage the most on, and introduce yourself. Don’t forget to include the hashtag in your tweets and posts so your messages will show up in the search results. Also, search the hashtag stream that day to see the topics being discussed and what the attendees have to say. You can retweet comments, favorite tweets, and share your own thoughts, too.

The best practice is to set a goal. Are you participating to expand your network of like-minded individuals or to connect with strategic alliances? Tweet at least three attendees. Want to keep current on industry trends? Read conference recaps and blog posts from the media in attendance.

2. Establish further credibility through hashtags.
To boost your online presence and establish credibility, first choose a few Twitter chats to participate in and share your expertise. While doing so, also observe how the hashtag can be used for engagement and tracking online impressions. Twitter chats typically last for an hour and are focused on a specific topic and often have a Q and A format. The chat’s designated hashtag allows for conversations among moderators and participants to be organized.

After some practice, you may host your own Twitter chat using a custom hashtag you've created. This ensures further credibility and promotes awareness of your brand, and provides you the opportunity to connect directly with consumers and influencers.

3. Reach the right audience with geotargeted hashtags.
In addition to advertising or using general hashtags that reach consumers worldwide, whittle down and use hashtags that geotarget users in a specific community. Search your city’s hashtag then "like", comment, and join relevant conversations to let consumers know you exist. Make sure to hashtag your own content with your location, too.

Of course, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. So if you have a hashtag strategy that hasn't been mentioned above, we’d love to hear from you! As the saying goes, #SharingIsCaring.


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