Whether you’re a business owner looking to make a splash on social media or an individual seeking out a conversation, hashtags are important.
For many, this is an inconvenient truth, particularly if they’re tired of seeing the “official hashtag” of their favourite television show flash up on screen every time they sit down to watch. Anyone invested in social media advertising or marketing has probably also felt the frustration of having a great piece of content or insight to share, only for it to not get the attention it perhaps should do owing to a missing hashtag.
Hashtags initially came to the fore thanks to Twitter. Subsequently, hashtags have become a prominent feature within other social networks, too, particularly in Google+, where Google even go to the trouble of adding hashtags themselves if you choose not to, and in Facebook. Hashtags are used in many others, and are now seen as a widespread staple of social media use, as well having made their way into our everyday lives. How many of us have sent or received an SMS message with a hashtag included, even though it’s irrelevant in the context of the message? How many of us have gotten annoyed because someone has actually used the word “hashtag” at the end of a sentence?
If hashtags feel like they’re taking over the world, it is because they have an important role to play, particularly in the modern digital marketing industry.
To answer the question in its simplest format, hashtags are important because they are essentially your ticket to the widest possible social media audience. Yes, if you don’t use hashtags any “keywords” that you use in social media can still be picked up by the social sites’ search engine, but these words aren’t clickable and won’t bring you as much potential traffic or as many pairs of eyes looking at your social content.
Smart and correct use of hashtags can be the difference between social media success and your social media time having no effect on your business.
When it comes to using hashtags, you should spend some time becoming aware how they are used on different social networks. Don’t fall into the “hashtags are only for Twitter” trap so think they don’t matter so much in terms of your wider strategy.
The first thing you need to know is that you don’t need to make every word a hashtag. You should also use hashtags based on the content of specific social media posts, rather than using the same ones irrespective of what you’re saying. Using the odd industry specific hashtag is fine, but doing it for every post will make you look like a social spammer and won’t do you any favours, neither with social media users nor with the social networks’ own algorithms.
The best way to look at hashtags is similar to how you would keywords that you target for search. What are the hashtags that are going to get you the most relevant audience possible looking at your social content and then “converting” from social media to go and check out your website?
Finally, as you build your brand, consider adopting your own hashtag, be that your company name or a slogan you become synonymous with, as this will help you to build your reputation on social media as well as having a specific place where you can target new business.