Hashtags have become an indelible feature across social media networks, and if you’re not using them, you’re missing a significant opportunity to engage your audience. Hashtags are a great way to group content for discovery, connect with users who have similar interests, and promote events. If you have done research on how to use hashtags, you’ve probably followed all the advice—be specific, be concise, be unique and original—and you’ve created a short, evergreen hashtag for your newest promotion or upcoming event. Now, what do you do?
First, make sure the content attached to the hashtag is compelling. If the promotion you’re trying to push isn’t exciting, helpful, or relevant to your audience, it’s going nowhere—hashtagged or not. Is this something you’d want to share on your social media network if a colleague posted it? Chances are if you can’t say yes to that question, your content isn’t ready yet.
Tell people what the hashtag is. Include the hashtag on handouts, blog posts, newsletters, and your website prior to the event. Ask your audience to share your content and use your hashtag—don’t forget friends and family members, and ask your employees to do the same. A good push by multiple people over several minutes time will give your hashtag traction, so coordinate with your influencers. Don’t have a large following yet? Ask your colleagues in the community to share your message and request their followers to share alike.
Give your audience motivation to use the hashtag. Prizes, games, and contests incentivize audience members and presenters alike, so send out a challenge to see who can get the most hashtag mentions. Displaying live mentions during an event is another serious motivator for your audience. Who doesn’t want their name up on a big screen?
Harness the energy. When people do start using your hashtag, reward them by incorporating their content into your campaign. Giving each user a moment in the sun is a small way to say thank you and a great way to ensure they’re game to share your message again in the future.
Be realistic in your expectations. Trending topics are fickle, and associated hashtags even more so. Don’t go for viral status-instead focus on quality over quantity by engaging your audience and you’ll reach new users and audiences, as a result.
Love hashtags or not, what started as a way for Twitter to categorize content has become an integral part of all social media platforms. Smart use of hashtags aids in your branding efforts, makes your content searchable, and expands your brand’s reach. Put the power of a #hashtag to work for you!