3 Keys To Effective Hashtags

So we know social media is here to stay, but it seems to change and get more complicated everyday! #NewEconomy

As a small business owner, it’s important to at least be aware of the trends, if anything, to prevent you from becoming that guy with the flip phone.

So here’s my take on the purpose of hashtags and 3 ways to use them effectively in communicating with your social media following. Because whats the value of having 10,000 followers if you can’t communicate with them effectively?


1) Real Time Content:

Twitter pioneered the hashtag and its a great way to get real time, up to the second information on whats going on.

NFL games promote a hashtag every sunday indicating what 2 teams are playing each other. People tweet throughout the game with that hashtag and become part of the conversation. Something like #SEAvsSF to indicate Seattle is going to play San Francisco next (and of course beat them 52-0)

If you’re throwing a company event of some sort, encourage people to have a conversation using a specific hashtag. Give your event a hashtag like #MyAwesomeEvent, promote it and have people tweet about it. Look around you, see all those people pulling out their phones anyway, thats an opportunity!

Have them post photos of themselves on Instagram with #MyAwesomeEvent, people love selfies!

If you’re broadcasting a webinar, Have people ask questions using your hashtag instead of emailing you.

If you’re a DJ, let people request songs using something like #NextSongUp.

2) Campaign, Promotion, Contest:

Hashtags are a great way for people to talk about a specific topic or search a specific topic. Use consistent hashtags to promote a product, sales event or something of the likes. Just make sure its not #OnceAYearSaleGoingOnNow. Instead try #FreeLatte @CoffeeShop.

The purpose is to have people write their own post and start an organic conversation. People should be tweeting something like “This #FreeLatte @CoffeShop is actually good!”

You can use hashtag #MyAwesomeEvent to promote your event ahead of time. Something like “Ready for friday! @Besfriend You coming? #MyAwesomeEvent”

3) Add Context #FacebookHashtags

This is my favorite use. Remember when text messaging was first getting started? People said it wouldn’t catch on because it didn’t provide the same context and social cue’s found in other forms of communication (such as face to face conversation). When you’re talking to someone, you can read expressions and get a sense of peoples mood through out a conversation. In texting, throw in a little  🙂 and you’re good to go! Emoticons give you insight on the emotions of another person. Texting your girlfriend back “Yeah :)“ is not the same as sending a plain “Yeah“.  They’ll be super mad with a simple “Yeah” #BadGirlfriendsDoThis

Hashtags do the same as emoticons, in the sense that they can give you more context on the conversation.

Facebook recently introduced hashtags but contrary to twitter, I think they’re almost useless, EXCEPT for the fact that they can give you some insight and background on a particular status update.

If anything, as a business owner, you can use it like you would on your campaigns on twitter. It status update like “Have you stopped in yet? #FreeLatte”

No one can deny communication has changed drastically in the last decade. And its only going to change more so catch up!

You should still avoid saying the word ‘hashtag’ out loud in a conversation, or overly long and complicated hashtags that mean nothing. Hashtags are what the IT world calls metadata – information giving you more information on a piece of data. Metadata by nature is short and has a specific purpose, so keep your hashtags short and make sure you know why you’re them.

Let me know what you think of this article and how you use hashtags (if at all) in your business!