I'm sure many of you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday night. While I was half paying attention to the players, I was mostly eager to watch the commercials. Even though the commercials weren't crazy entertaining, I did notice in about 50% of the commercials a hashtag was featured. While TV is considered old school advertising, the marketers used the hashtag to increase the brand engagement online. Like myself and many others watching the Super Bowl, we had our mobile devices out and on, making it a safe bet for those TV advertisers to know if they used hashtagging in their advertising, the more likely we, the consumers, were to either use their hashtag on our social media pages or to look up the hashtag for more content.
For any of you watching in Santa Barbara, you may have also noticed Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., a local brewery, placed a local ad during the Super Bowl. If anyone thought Super Bowl advertising was just for the big boys, that theory is now out the window. Partly because of the local advertising and partly because of the increased use in hashtagging in commercials, I felt it necessary to write this blog on hashtag use and the importance of using hashtags in your small business digital marketing. The two consistent questions I get when I'm working with clients is:
1.) What is a hashtag?
2.) Why should we use one?
Allow me to break down the answers and also let you in on a couple hashtagging dos and don'ts.
What is a Hashtag?
A hashtag is a word that is preceded by this symbol (#).
How are Hashtags Used?
Hashtags are used to identify a message, group similar content together, and bring greater awareness and exposure to a brand, company, product or service. Hashtags can be used in the body of a post, in a commercial, at the end of a post or to look up a company or content through a search engine. Almost every social media platform, except for LinkedIn, uses hashtags.
Why Should you Use Hashtagging in your Marketing?
There are many reasons to use a hashtag. The number one reason is exposure. When I use #digitalmarketing or #smallbusinessmarketing in my Instagram and Facebook posts, I am opening my content up to be found by millions of people, who may have never heard of my company, and who may want to contact me to learn more about my services.
I even had the pleasure of speaking with a digital marketing company in Ohio the other day, just because I used hashtags in my Instagram content. The relationship is still fresh, but it has infinite possibilities. This is the power of hashtagging.
Hashtagging can also help to brand your business. When my client, Anna's Bakery uses #annasbakery, in their posts, those who search for Anna's Bakery over the web will see all the content created attached to that hashtag. And even better, Anna's Bakery encourages its patrons to use their hashtag when they're taking pictures of their baked goods. This allows for your own customers to market your business for you. Pretty genius!
- Use hashtags that relate to your business, for example, if you're a veterinarian, think about using hashtags like #veterinarian, #petcare #animallover.
- Use hashtags consistently in your content. The more times you use the hashtag, the more content will be created around that hashtag, which ultimately leads back to your business.
- Encourage your customers to use your hashtag by placing it in your profile description on your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter page.
- Don't hashtag every word in a sentence. This will make your content look like spam and it won't be engaging to your readers.
- Don't use more than 2 hashtags per post. According to Buffer Social, "When you use more than two hashtags, your engagement actually drops by an average of 17 percent".
- Don't hashtag a full sentence. This won't look professional and it will not lead potential leads back to your business.
I hope my article has helped you to better understand what hashtagging is, why it's important to use them in the content surrounding your business, ways to utilize hashtagging online and techniques not to use when you're hashtagging.
If you're still unsure of how to implement hashtagging into your marketing strategy, or if you would like help optimizing your social media pages for increased exposure, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.