I have a love-hate relationship with hashtags.
What this means, is that I really love hashtags when they’re done right. But it absolutely grinds my gears when A) I see hashtags on Facebook or Pinterest (seriously, please just don’t–in fact, I’m pretty sure that Facebook is shutting down hashtags on its website and hashtags on Pinterest just look spammy) and B) I see hashtags done wrong (as in, someone put a space or other non-hashtag-friendly-character in their hashtag, completing effing up the whole damn hashtag). Wow, that was the longest sentence ever.
–Insert obligatory “grinds my gears” meme. My brain can no longer say “grinds my gears” in any voice other than Peter Griffin’s. Bonus points to whoever sends this back to me with the best caption.–
However, when done right and on the correct platforms, hashtags are awesome promotional tools that can really help to draw attention back to your blog or business.
Don’t believe me? Think back on popular hashtags like #YesAllWomen and #BlackLivesMatter or business campaigns like The White House’s #40dollars and Nike’s #MakeItCount. Not only that, but tweets with hashtags get double the engagement than hashtag-less tweets do. Moral of the story: #hashtagsmatter.
Tweets that include hashtags are 55% more likely to be retweeted and posts on Instagram with 11+ hashtags receive the highest engagement. Obviously statistics like this prove that hashtags only help with your social media reach and engagement, so here are a few tips to use hashtags to promote your business.
1. Brand specific hashtags
U by Kotex does a great job with this. Their brand name is already a well known name, therefore they’re able to grab attention simply by hashtagging their own name.
— U by Kotex (@ubykotex) April 7, 2015
If your brand name is recognizable, you can simply turn that into a hashtag. Or you might want to get a bit more creative. Edge Shave Gel has created their own brand-specific slogan, Get Your Edge. This is their trademarked catchphrase, but you can also see them use it as a hashtag as well.
This works well for brand recognition, because if you search for #GetYourEdge on Twitter, you’ll see several of Edge’s customers posting their own tweets using this hashtag.
Another great example that I was excited to find is from one of my favorites, Megan:
— Megan Minns (@megan_minns) April 1, 2015
She has created her own hashtag #mmdesigns for all of the designs/wallpapers that she has created to share with her followers. (PS–I’m actually using this calendar as my current wallpaper and LOVE IT!) A few other awesome examples:
— Freddo Helado US (@FreddoHeladoUS) April 12, 2015
2. Hashtag campaigns
Taco Bell is definitely one of the more genius brands on social media. They have one of the most entertaining social media voices, have no shortage of appropriate snark, and consistently launch awesome campaigns, their latest being the #BreakfastDefector.
The #BreakfastDefector campaign is all about drawing attention to their newest food venture–breakfast! This campaign involves contests, giveaways, user interaction, and more. Putting together a campaign like this takes time, but if you find the time or have the means of outsourcing your social media to a marketing genius, then I absolutely recommend doing so. Successful campaigns result in hundreds or thousands of new social media followers, which means you’ve got hundreds or thousands of potential new customers.
3. Content hashtags
These are definitely the easiest hashtags to incorporate into your tweets or Instagrams because you can add them to pretty much anything. Content hashtags are common hashtags that simply pertain to what you’re sharing. Here are a few great examples of content hashtags done right:
And on Instagram:
Full inbox and a full to do list today, so we’re busy around here today while we wait on Zoey’s second Puppy Box to show up! Hope y’all had a great weekend, but have an even better week! A photo posted by Kory Woodard Nobes (@korymae) on
I love what Kory does in her Instagram posts. She posts the picture with a regular text caption then adds on a comment with all of her hashtags. Now this is just personal preference, and for my company’s Instagram I post hashtags in the original caption, but for personal/blog Instagrams, I totally understand not wanting heaps of hashtags in your caption.
As I mentioned earlier, Instagram is the place to use up your hashtag quota. You can post up to 30 hashtags, so I recommend posting as many as you can that relate to your photo.
Using Kory’s photo above, here are the hashtags that she chose to include: #whereIwork #onmydesk #wildheartstribe #followyourdreams #branding #business #smallbiz #designer #vsco #vscolovers #vscoedit #liveyourlife #liveauthentic #livefolk #nothingisordinary #thatsdarling #wildhearts #blogger #blogdesign #logodesign #webdesign #makeithappen #making2015happen #abmlifeissweet #abmlifeiscolorful #targetstyle
4. Trending hashtags
You can find your trends in the lefthand sidebar of your desktop Twitter dashboard or by tapping the magnifying glass in the upper righthand corner of your mobile Twitter app. These hashtags vary greatly, but sometimes you’ll find a couple of fun hashtags that you might want to play around with. Here are a couple examples of a tweet using a trending hashtag:
Popular trending hashtags are usually based on users finishing a sentence or stating an opinion of something in 5 words or something to that effect. If you ever see a trending hashtag that relates to your business, then you should absolutely take advantage of it.
My company writes a career blog, so one time I saw the hashtag #FiveWordsToRuinAJobInterview and absolutely jumped on the opportunity to get some tweets in there. I used the hashtag to write funny five-word quotes that would ruin an interview, but then to also give some sound advice.
Trending topics are already popular because they’re getting a lot of tweets and organic reach, therefore your tweets with trending hashtags are more likely to receive engagement. In the example I shared above with Erika’s tweet, I was able to look through her tweets and see that the trending hashtag caused that tweet to have more increased engagement than her other tweets.
5. Twitter chats
Another great use for hashtags is for conversations on Twitter that are centered around one specific topic. Many times conferences will have a specific hashtag that attendees will use whenever they tweet out things that they saw or learned or heard. For example, here are a few tweets from the SXSW conference last month:
And then comes my absolute favorite–Twitter chats. These are hour-long chats that are hosted by one or two people, typically based on a certain topic, and ask questions to the audience using a chat specific hashtag. Popular ones in my niche include #createlounge, #ellechat, and #blisschat. You can see an example of how these work here:
6. Search for hashtags
Social media is, after all, all about being social and engaging with potential leads and garnering interested towards your blog or business. This means that it’s totally okay–and actually encouraged–to get out there and be social! Search for hashtags that are relevant to your company and engage with tweets that you find.
For example, I did social media for a dry cleaner once, so I would search Twitter for hashtags like #laundryproblems and then would reply to the best problems I found with something funny or at the very least reassuring. (After all, laundry really sucks, doesn’t it?)
One over-the-top (but in a good way) and totally awesome example of a brand doing this would be when Edge Shave Gel took to Twitter to see what people that was #soirritating and did their best to fix all of their problems. The company went as far as sending out a microphone to a woman who was irritated that her husband wouldn’t wear his hearing aids and even other gifts like iPads and MacBook Pros!
7. Reoccurring hashtags
Utilize the power of Instagram and post some #tbt (Throwback Thursday), #fbf (Flashback Friday), #wcw (Woman Crush Wednesday), and #mcm (Man Crush Monday) photos. (I’m sure I’m missing a few of these weekly hashtags, but the ones I mentioned are definitely the most popular.)
Throwback a photo to when you first started your business or perhaps to your very first website design. (It’s okay–we’ve all been through the haunting days of DIY blog design and terrible, terrible design choices, so you might as well just bare all!)
Do a #mcm of your favorite actor or a #wcw of your favorite or most inspirational blogger. The possibilities are endless and these hashtags are just plain fun. This is the type of thing that makes people want to follow you–fun, personable, real-life content.
8. Q+A Hashtags
Many times you’ll see celebrities host Twitter Q+A’s, where users can tweet out a question tagging a specific hashtag (for example, #AskJustin or something similar) and the celebrity will have a set time period in which they’ll read the tweets and answer questions.
You can easily host a Q+A session for your blog or business where you can answer questions that your readers or customers may have for you. Be sure to send out notice of your Q+A via email newsletter, blog post, and/or on your social media so that you’ll have an audience for your sesh.
9. Use hashtags to be silly
Sometimes hashtags are just used as a humorous extension of the tweet. Here are a few examples of this:
— Parks and Recreation (@parksandrecnbc) April 10, 2015
This just adds more personality and likability to your tweets, which is a really great trait for brands to have.
P.S. What is your favorite use of hashtags? Do you have any suggestions for how hashtags can be used to promote your business?