Are you looking to increase your social media reach and engagement rate? Well, who isn’t? There are over 200 million tweets published each day, and your content needs to be found in order to earn shares or retweets. If you haven’t started learning how to use hashtags on Twitter for small business, this clever social media trick might be just the boost you need. While there is no unique SEO value of a hashtag, they significantly increases the searchability of social media content.
Hashtags should matter to marketers and small business owners as much as they do to personal Twitter users. Learning how to use hashtags on Twitter can help you network with other small business owners, perform market research through savvy social media stalking, generate buzz around your product and promote contests. Best of all? Unlike promoted Tweets and Facebook advertisements, hashtags are completely free! Whether you’re a seasoned expert at inbound marketing strategy or just getting started, we’ve compiled 7 of our favorite ways small businesses can use hashtags:
1. Keep it Simple
Learn the basic rules of hashtag ettiquette before you jump in with both feet. Not only can using hashtags the right way give your social media content the most mileage and visibility, it can minimize your chances of embarassment:
- Keep your hashtags short and take advantage of established tags to join existing conversations. When tweeting a link helpful to small business owners, don’t use #SmallandMediumBusinesses when #SMB would work just as well. Long hashtags containing more than 3 words aren’t typically searched or used.
- Don’t overdo it. Most Twitter experts recommend that you stick to between 1-3 hashtags, with 2 being considered an ideal number. Looking for a humorous example of severe hashtag overuse? See below:
- Think Like a Dromedary. When using multiple words to create or replicate a hashtag, capitalize the first letter of each word: #UseHashtags. This technique is known as camel case. While searches on Twitter aren’t case sensitive and forgetting to apply capitalization won’t decrease searchability, camel case can make longer hashtags much easier to read.
2. Keep Up on Trends
If you’re like most of us, you may not have time to keep up with your RSS feeds or read all the blog and news content you want to. Use hashtags to follow new trends and developments in your industry. Not sure what to try? #SmallBiz, #SMB and #marketing are all active conversations that can point you towards like-minded entrepreneurs and high-value links from around the web. Pick a few hashtags to follow and keep at it. You can identify talented content curators and thought leaders, and view hashtags like a news alert or feed.
3. Organize Your Social Media Dashboards
Once you’ve identified active hashtags that can provide access to high-value content in your field, designate columns within your social dashboard. HootSuite and TweetDeck both allow users to set up permanent columns by hashtag, which can act like mini-feeds. Too busy to follow more than one hashtag? Create a column around a relevant search term or build a Twitter list to fill a column.
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4. Create Your Own Hashtag
Chances are, you’ve encountered big brands who have chosen to create their own hashtags for branding or conversations. Hashtags are an awesome way to create buzz, if you can get them to catch on. Small and medium-sized businesses can create their own hashtags, too. Make your hashtags are original or unique enough you aren’t accidentally stepping into an existing conversation.
5. Provide Incentive for Using the Hashtag
Looking to generate buzz, increase social media reach and spark up some engagement? Create a hashtag for the purpose of a Twitter contest. Just require Twitter followers to use your hashtag for an entry. If your incentive is great, you could see enormous participation as news of the contest and prize are shared throughout peoples’ personal networks. American Express and rapper Jay-Z recently joined forces in a Twitter contest that provided incentive for individuals promote the new relationship between AmEx and Twitter. Over 26,000 people participated and the hashtag #JayZSyncShow quickly spread throughout the network.
6. Start Tweet Chatting
Tweet chats, which have also been referred to as Twitter chats, can help you leverage hashtags to build brand awareness, buzz and engagement. All you need is a designated time and hashtag and a few Tweeps to start talking. Small businesses can offer Tweet chats as an opportunity for their fans to ask questions about their products or services. Generate buzz by hosting a Tweet chat with an industry expert, or even a panel.
7. Join and Promote Tweet Chats
Looking to really leverage hashtags for professional development and networking? You can access a Google spreadsheet that contains a schedule of current Tweet chats, relevant hashtags and links to read up on more information. Topics of interest could include the #B2BMarketers chat Thursdays 8-9 PM Eastern time and Tuesday 7-8 PM Eastern #SmallBizChat. If you’re trying to give your own ongoing Tweet chat a little more exposure, add your event to the master list for a bit more promotion.
Do your tweets contain correctly-formatted hashtags or are they likely to be lost in the shuffle of 200 million other pieces of social media content each day? As of summer 2012, 1.6 billion search queries were performed daily on Twitter. Learning how to use hashtags on Twitter to be found, generate buzz and make new connections is an essential part of your inbound marketing strategy!