Finding the right customers at the right time and with the ability to talk directly with them is a marketers dream come true. With Twitter’s long time hashtag introduction, companies have been able to effectively find each other. Most digital marketing efforts are supplemented by numerous identifiable tag words and or hashtags to enhance their SEO efforts. As other social media outlets saw the relevance of hashtags, most followed suit according to need. Hashtags allow you to quickly connect with thousands of targeted online conversations to enable an opportunity to engage with others and gain more customers/followers.
Hashtags can work in your favor if you know why to use them and how.
Reasons why hashtags are important:
They tell you what people care about in the form of trending information on a variety of events and topics. It’s like having a news crawler that shows you only the news you want to see in real-time, as the stories evolve.
When you announce a new product or service, unless you’ve conducted extensive market research, you’ve only been able to make educated guesses as to what potential customers want – and those wants may change over time. That’s why it’s important for marketers to listen to customers in real-time. You can react quickly and attend to their needs, thus taking any bumps out of their road to purchase. If you actively participate in customer conversations, then you can even A/B test your approach along the way, refining your message as you gather their feedback.
Hashtags are also your shortcut to where pertinent conversations are happening online. You can track a hashtag or group of hashtags specific to your vertical market and get a sense of the priorities and desires of your audience. You can track conversations over time and see the verbatim comments and sentiment about a topic so you can gauge your messaging as your company grows.
Benefits of Using Hashtags:
– Track Relevant Conversations: Use a listening tool to follow hashtags to get an idea of what advocates are interested in. This tool assists you to ease into a conversation, identify the most influential participants in the conversation and understand the thoughts and feelings of participants.
– Find out how far discussions have traveled: While you might be focusing your marketing efforts on a particular geographic location or demographic segment, you might be surprised at who actually uses your hashtag and participates in conversations pertaining to it.
– See How Long Your Message Stays Active: Reach and frequency of message are important, but so is longevity, especially on the social web. By monitoring hashtags, you can see how long people participate in conversations in your vertical, and whether that means simply retweeting your original message or developing conversations that last over a period of time.
– Catch Negative Sentiment and Contact Those People Directly: There will always be times when you need to deliver information that will be divisive. By using and tracking your hashtag, you’ll be able to see negative reaction, questions, or debate over your message, and be able to engage participants in conversation with the goal of changing their opinion, or at least lessening the negative impact. This can be a very useful tool.
– Amplify Positive Sentiment by Retweeting and Engaging Positive Contributors: The other side of the conversational coin is that you can amplify positive conversations surrounding your message, and engage proponents in conversation. By retweeting positive comments, you can help these messages travel faster and encourage fans to similarly contribute.
Hashtag Best Practices:
Choosing a Hashtag:
It’s important when deciding on a hashtag to be clear on your goals. This will temper the tone of your hashtag selection. Do you want to generate buzz? Are you looking to piggyback on a topic or an event the public is already interested in, like the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl? This will all have a bearing on what you name your hashtag, or whether you append a word to a commonly used hashtag.
If your goals are to launch a product or a campaign, you might consider how you can leverage your campaign tagline in a short but effective way.
It’s important to keep your hashtags short so you leave as many characters as possible for the actual conversation, or for participants in your conversation to also include links.
Creating Your Branded Hashtag:
Resist the urge to add too much information or brand awareness into your hashtags. If you’re marketing tennis balls, don’t make your hashtag #OurTennisBallsPerfomBetter because there is a huge risk it not only won’t be spelled correctly, but that no one will remember it. Think about the best brand tag lines you’ve ever read. The best ones are short and evocative. There is always an opportunity to make your tags briefer and more memorable.
The Effect of Mobile Adoption on Hashtags:
Be aware that due to the mobile adoption of these services, many people using hashtags may spell them incorrectly due to input error or inability to see them correctly on a small screen. Try to plan for this by making your hashtags easier to spell (read: don’t have too many repeating letters in a row, or words above a grade 6 reading level).
Spelling errors will still happen, though, so plan for the most common ones and make sure you have a complete list for tracking those hashtags as well so you can see the whole picture.
An important final check of your hashtag should be to make sure that there are no inadvertent other words created when you butt words up against one another. Children’s Wear = Children Swear, for instance. An unfortunate confluence such as this might help your hashtag go viral, but not in the way you were hoping.
Last But Not Least
Monitor Your Hashtags:
When monitoring you are going to look for a few factors.
– How many conversations used the hashtag that weren’t from your own accounts? This number will give you a sense of the reach and frequency of your message
– What were the tones of the conversations? Positive, negative, perspectives, complaints
– Did any of your competitor use your hashtags / join the conversation?
– General Geographic location of the conversations.
Hashtags are a shortcut to find great conversations on social media, and a great way for you to identify fans and potential customers. They give you the ability to ask people what they think about your company and your products and get opinions in real time that can help you inform future planning. It’s not always easy to figure out exactly what your hashtag should be, though. You should put in careful thought and consideration before you set it out into the wild. If you follow the steps to creating a hashtag correctly, you can plan for successful conversations that can help extend your brand’s online reach and engagement.
Information Provided By: Newswire | Photo Credit: All Free Download.com