Today we have a post from Rachel Kerstetter, Sonnhalter’s PR Engineer, answering one of the questions she’s frequently asked and sharing some tips on how to use hashtags.
The basic mechanics of making a hashtag include putting a pound sign (#) in front of a word, phrase, acronym or combination of characters (but not punctuation).
But beyond calling attention to the words in a tweet, post or whatever, hashtags allow you to join into a more broad conversation. Hashtags have become a standard part of online conversation and stretch across many social platforms. Hashtags originated on Twitter and very recently Facebook added hashtag capabilities to the platform, but you can also use hashtags on: Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and newcomer Vine.
There are many ways to use hashtags, but they all boil down to participating in public conversation. Here are some common ways to use hashtags in marketing communications:
- Promote engagement during events. Whether your event is online or offline, it will have a presence. When you create your own hashtag (and publically identify it) you can then monitor and interact with the conversation around your event. Most conferences, trade shows, webinars and other events announce the “official” hashtag, put it on publicity materials and have a designated person using it. Mostly this happens on Twitter but permeates into other social media use.
- Host or take part in a Twitter chat. Twitter chats are a simple way to have a conversation with multiple people on the same topic. Chats are traditionally an hour and have a prescribed hashtag. Most chats happen weekly at the same time and center around a prepared set of questions, due to their growing popularity services have been created to help you participate more easily, for example Tweetchat is a Twitter application to organized the tweets on a hashtag and shows them in real time, allowing you to tweet in the action and pause the conversation to catch up.
- Run and follow a marketing campaign. If you have a campaign that will get people talking, adding a hashtag to it isn’t a bad idea. Often you’ll find ads that have hashtags to see more online.
- Contests. Hashtag-powered contests work the best for photos but can also be used for sharing experiences or answering a question. Just ask your fans/followers to post their entry using your hashtag.
- Research. See what people are saying or posting about a topic, brand, event or anything by searching hashtags. If you see a relevant topic hashtagged on your own feed, click it to see what else is being said.
If you still aren’t sure you’re ready to use hashtags, at least get your feet wet by identifying them when you see them and find out how they’re being used.
What are some ways that you’ve seen hashtags incorporated into marketing plans?