Everyone loves a great hashtag. Finding the right phrase for the right moment lets your business ride a wave of popularity without having to shell out big bucks for an entire campaign.
Not just any phrase will do, of course. You can’t throw a “#” at the beginning of your product name and expect it to take off; you need to find something that resonates with your target audience.
Why #GreatHashtags Work to Drive Sales
Hashtags can serve as a call to action to drive sales. When your audience members see a hashtag that catches their attention, it provides a direct avenue to connect with you via social media. Through this connection, you can collect contact information and further engage that audience through discounts, email offers, or subscriptions to your newsletter or blog.
Taking that a step further and encouraging meaningful participation will strengthen that engagement. Brands that feature stories from their audience members or promote themselves through giveaways and constant interaction with supporters will drive loyalty and create momentum for other supporters to interact with the brands – and each other. When someone retweets your business’s message, you essentially get an open endorsement to all of that person’s followers at no charge. It’s an organic relationship centered on an idea.
A great hashtag ties in with existing advertising while letting fans own the conversation. Consider Red Bull’s #givesyouwings hashtag. The slogan gives the brand flexibility to promote events and products while enticing fans to upload their own content that fits the attitude of daring that Red Bull promotes.
Using Hashtags Successfully
Event-specific hashtags help attract new customers to your brand while providing participants with additional exposure during the event. Before everyone gathers, promote content related to the audience you want to capture. As the event unfolds, remind people of where you are and what you’re doing by posting photos and content from the event. After the event, publish recaps and push content that continues the discussion the event started.
You can also use hashtags to join conversations you didn’t start. At Underground Elephant, we monitor the hashtags our partner businesses and best customers use. If we see a relevant one, we try to incorporate it in our own content and posts. By becoming part of that hashtag’s community, we’re authentically speaking our customers.
It’s also important to help build that community by engaging your own team and encouraging consistent participation and creativity. We hold contests for employees to post pictures of themselves wearing our t-shirt in various situations, giving out prizes for things like the furthest from the office, the highest elevation and the best picture with a celebrity. These contests fuel our brand’s image while strengthening our company culture.
Quick and Dirty Hashtag Tips
Hashtags can be a vibrant and direct way to engage your audience, but it’s important to keep these tips in mind to maximize your engagement and communicate efficiently:
- Speak clearly. Capitalize the first letter of each word in a multiword hashtag.
- Use letters and numbers only. Don’t add punctuation or spaces.
- Keep it short. Long hashtags are confusing; if you make yours too difficult to type on a mobile phone, you’ll miss out on opportunities for exposure.
- Don’t overdo it. Two hashtags in a tweet is fine, but three is too many; after two, user engagement drops by 17 percent. While you should use hashtags in regular tweets to encourage conversation, you shouldn’t use hashtags with Twitter Ads. Ads require direct click-throughs to be effective, which hashtags discourage. You don’t want your hashtag to become a slogan; you want it to become slang – common language everyone can use – even if only for a day.
- Get physical. Put hashtags on signs and company gear to promote your brand and get people involved.
- Be relentless. Use hashtags to promote company events, teams, or anything that can directly connect with your audience. Hashtags are short and easy, so don’t pass up an opportunity to make your business more shareable.
- Use tools. Apps like HashAtIt and Keyhole help you learn more about how, where, and why your hashtags are (or aren’t) succeeding.
It’s exciting to dive into the world of hashtags, but it’s important to remember that the goal is building engagement and connecting hashtags to your other marketing efforts. Coca-Cola did a great job of this with its recent #shareacoke campaign. The hashtag helped create those stories and encouraged a personal touch that further engaged Coca-Cola’s audience. People were able to create their own stories and bonds and continued to build the brand’s story as well.
Great hashtags are just one part of your strategy, so use this advice to advance the conversation around your business and grab new followers along the way.
Lauren Alexander is the executive vice president of marketing at Underground Elephant, a performance-based provider of online marketing technology and customer acquisition solutions based in San Diego. Servicing multiple industries, including auto insurance, postsecondary education, health insurance, and home services, Underground Elephant provides cloud-based SaaS marketing technology and platforms.