Are you harnessing hashtags to help grow your brand, biz or blog? If not, you might want to make hashtag use a part of your strategy, right away!
We’re all familiar with big brand campaigns and hashtag use. Hashtags are everywhere and in some ways that makes them ignorable. Every TV show and soda pop campaign has a hashtag.
These “big trees” cast a lot of shade and make it harder for a lot of smaller companies and individuals to see the value in using hashtags to grow and measure their own efforts. Won’t their message just get lost on the vast and shaggy forest floor of social media posts?
It’s not an unfounded fear. The key to using hashtags successfully is understanding how, why and when to use them.
The way I see it, there are three distinct opportunities for brands of any size to “fertilize” and fortify their social media posts with hashtags. They are:
ONE: Honing in and identifying your community, audience and consumers through the use of existing hashtags
Goal: Make connections!
Hashtags are a great jumping off point for finding your people. When you search and post with industry, special interest, and location hashtags, you can quickly identify existing communities and connect with top influencers. This saves a lot of time and pointless tweeting.
Research your tags carefully, learn as much as you can about similar and parallel communities and reach out to kindred spirits. Remember the point is not to “steal” from others, but to sow the seeds for your own unique presence. Ideally you have something new and exciting to offer or discuss.
TWO: Growing your community and building engagement through the use of your own unique hashtag
Goal: Regular engagement with more people, a dedicated community!
There are 3 different approaches to this goal which I like to call “yours”, “mine” and “ours.”
- Some people like to brand or label their own content with their own hashtag, making it easy to track how many times and where their posts are being shared, and to find their own topical posts more easily – this is a “mine” approach. An example would be a blogger that always uses their blog hashtag when they post
- Some people like to open up their tags to the community, asking for self identified posts where the users use the hashtag to be a part of something – this is a “yours” approach
- Still others use their hashtag to host a chat, or as a way for their community members to engage in an ongoing conversation. This is an “ours” approach.
Continued use of established hashtags alongside your own unique hashtag may help facilitate the growth of your unique tag and community.
Measuring your success and showing your value via hashtags
Goal: Gain insight for future campaigns and show community value!
The third way that hashtags can benefit brands of any size is via tracking and measurement. Measurement and tracking are the whole reason why hashtags exist, after all! They keep us from getting lost in that forest.
It’s easy to show your growth, impact and influences/influencers when you have captured and preserved the conversation using hashtags. The interesting part is what you do with those learnings!
Regular use of a hashtag can help you identify who your biggest fans (and competitors) are. It allows you to quickly and easily see what content resonates the most with your audience and opens you up to new prospects by showing you other concurrent hashtag use. Hashtag use can give you valuable demographic information as well – the who, what, when and where of your audience, community and engagers.
All of these metrics are incredibly useful as you plan and strategize your content and marketing efforts for the future.
Additionally for bloggers and anyone who might be (or might like to be) considered a social influencer, it is a good idea to track and follow your own hashtag impact in any campaign that you are participating in. This includes social campaigns, hobby hashtags and brand campaigns that are both paid or unpaid. When negotiating your rates as an influencer, it’s incredibly useful to be able to whip out a report demonstrating the impact that you had on a related hashtag.
The travel brand you are pitching may not have realized that you were a top 20 tweeter for a high volume Disney related hashtag, and a food company you’d love to work with may have missed that your recipe tweet (featuring their product) had over 500 retweets, until you show it to them.
Metrics can be magical. Knowledge is power!
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about ways that brands can harness hashtags.
I am very excited to be doing a deeper dive, talking on this topic later this month at TBEX Athens. I’m looking forward to sharing specific tips, stories and insights from several small brands and bloggers on how they have have harnessed hashtags to grow their own communities and businesses.
Hope to see some familiar faces at my session!