If you find yourself repeatedly asking about the purpose of hashtags, you are probably asking the wrong questions.
Instead, ask yourself about your social media audience. Businesses use them to gain followers. Followers use them to find new interests. Creatives use them to inspire new content.
One thing stands true for all three of these groups, however, they are looking to reach a specific audience.
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Use Relevant Hashtags to Start a Conversation
All too often brands use hashtags as a way to get as many views as possible, but what is the point of a view if there is no interaction? Here’s an easy example.
An avid Instagram user searches #TBT to find the top posts for that day and new pages to follow. As they’re searching they come across a picture they can’t quite make out so they click it out of curiosity. It’s a software sales service for insurance agents. The picture is their view from the office window. Sure that’s a nice picture, but the publishing of the same completely ignored the thought process of the audience it needs to reach.
While they are looking at your business’ picture, consider it an accident. The people who use hashtags persistently know the tricks of the trade of business social media culture, and know how to spot a desperate company looking for any “likes” they can get. Instantly the user is turned off by irrelevant content. NEXT.
Becoming a Part of a Community
To effectively use hashtags means you must become part of a community of users who also feel, think and identify themselves with this label. If you use #TBT, than the picture better be a throwback. It seems simple, right?
Finding those effective hashtags is just as easy if you have the right mindset. There are three key elements every hashtag should have in order to truly capture a valuable follower who will contribute to your brand’s community. After all, you aren’t selling anything on social media. You are simply letting users peek into the functionality and lifestyle that comes along with using your product or service.
The Three Elements of a Hashtag
In reference to the #tbt example, your hashtag must have some sort of meaning or relevance to your social media post and brand. Although it can be tempting to use #tbt on a Thursday, remember that every user is thinking the same thing. Your chances of being seen through that specific hashtag is little to none when 100 people are posting it every 10 minutes. Instead, find hashtags that express the meaning of the post in terms of your community.
So, if you want to show the view from your office, maybe use a hashtag like #lovewhereyouwork or #officelife. People who are interested in these hashtags will actually WANT to see your corner office view because they find value in other people’s work environment. In turn, they will follow you or look further into your brand due to your similar interests.
One of Fahrenheit Marketing’s most successful posts used #lovewhereyouwork and #atx on an Instagram post that highlighted some great logo mock-ups by our beloved designers. Within 10 minutes, we gained 30 likes. The use of our relevant location, as well as a community-oriented hashtag, brought interested users to our post.
There is nothing wrong with starting your own community to share your brand’s ideals. If your boss brings cookies from the corner bakery every Wednesday, share a picture with #cookiewednesday. As you post more and more, you create a fun and intriguing forum for people to get a peek into your company’s culture.
Say a recent grad is wondering where they should apply and they come across your business page, #cookiewednesday seems cool, but maybe the boss was just feeling generous that day. They click the hashtag and see two months of #cookiewednesday and think, “Hey, this is something I want to be a part of. Their boss appreciates their employees and judging by the rest of their posts, they seem pretty successful. This is a creative tactic to build credibility in other ways besides the quality of your work. In an age where culture is everything, it’s time for corporations to turn into communities in order to continue attracting new consumers or employees.
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Everything you choose to post on social media directly reflects your brand. Create a hashtag to support the brand of every post. If your business is related to another company’s post, comment on it with your brand hashtag. This brings awareness to followers of similar ideas and shows that you are a part of this community and conversation.
You should also encourage users who are interacting with your company to use your brand-specific hashtag. All of these tags and posts will show up in one group of events all related to your brand. If someone is interested in your brand as a potential partner or even employee, it is possible they will look up your hashtag to inquire all of your relations on social media and investigate your wide span of networks.
Here at the agency, we chose a straightforward hashtag that is repeatedly used by our office pages and employees to create a collage of all things Fahrenheit -- #fahrenheitmarketing. There is no question who this hashtag refers to and is certainly what someone would search if looking for a compilation of our posts.
The theory of hashtag use is endless. Some say use 11 hashtags at 11 am on Thursday mornings. Others say keep it natural and only use your branding hashtag. Either way, hashtags are only effective if they are on-brand, relevant and creative. If you are struggling with your hashtag use, seek to learn more about their reach and importance and be sure to “tag” your content appropriately, so that when your content is viewed, it actually provides engagement and branding opportunity.