By Jim Annis
Hashtags have the power to make or break a world leader’s political campaign, keep the world abreast of the status of a natural disaster and/or create a deluge of funding for a charitable cause. But what can they do for your business?
A hashtag — in the olden days known as “the pound sign” — is a word or group of words after the # sign like #hashtag, #buylocal or #marketing. Marketers use them as a way to engage your company’s brand with your market through social media (Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and Facebook). Why do they matter? Hashtags are searchable, allowing you to become part of a larger conversation with a larger audience — in fact, an instantly global audience. Intrigued? You need a few good strategies.
Hashtag marketing strategies
Brand (example: #Disney)
Use your company name or short tagline that people already associate with your business (or one that you would like them to associate with your business). Have one “central” tag that you identify to be used by employees as well as customers on any social media. Make it unique (no one else is using it), short and consistently used (no butchering your hashtag).
Marketing campaign (example: Red Bull’s #PutACanOnIt)
Use a word or a handful of words that encompass your short-term goals (contest or promotion). Tips: make it unique, promote it to leverage all your channels, use it as a requirement to achieve some type of benefit (enter a contest, etc), and respond/engage with people who are using it.
Trending and content (example: #springtime)
A trending hashtag topic is one that has become very popular or is the most talked about right now. When you see a trend that relates to your business, use the tag and link it to your content. Your fans and followers will see it, but so will a much broader audience. Because this is “free,” companies can misuse it. Please do not spam trends unrelated to your business, which may get you banned from a social media site. Content hashtags are used in your posts, not branded and not necessarily trending; however, they can improve the SEO of your posts because your updates are seen by your consumers who are searching or using the hashtag words.
Educating your employees
The use of hashtags for people who have never used them can be daunting. A great first step is creating internal training and communication that gives your employees permission to use them. Make hashtags accessible and then train them to understand about how to avoid making a mistake, but also give them permission to experiment and make a few errors. Introduce a clear list of approved hashtags for all of your strategies above such as #throwbackthursday and #officeculture. Work hashtags into your staff meetings so people get used to engaging with them, creating effective ambassadors of your key messaging.
Read the rest of Jim’s article at rgj.com.
Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied’s COO, contributed to this article.