In the old children’s game of Blind Man’s Bluff, a blindfolded player seeks the hiding players by feeling his way along or shouting out and hoping to hear a reply.
Attracting attention on social media can be just as futile if you are not using hashtags correctly, or (gasp!), not at all.
Hashtags are used by placing the # symbol before a keyword term or phrase (no spaces) to classify it into a group. Using a smartly chosen hashtag increases the likelihood your post, tweet or photo will appear in the search results of a social media platform. Hashtags were first used on Twitter back in 2007, and have since been adopted on social media site such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Vine. Hashtags are now a part of our everyday language and culture; nothing says you have arrived like being the subject of a Jimmy Fallon skit. Ask any 20 something with a smartphone what a hashtag is and they’ll be able to tell you. And keep in mind; people with social media savvy are potential customers or online influencers in your industry.
Hashtags are a powerful tool in social media marketing because of their ability to classify content, engage with influencers and conversations, and drive traffic. Done effectively, this means your online content can reach your intended audience of customers and industry influencers, as well as grow your community across all social media platforms.
Here are 6 tips you can use to take the blindfold off when using hashtags to categorize and promote your social media content:
1. Don’t guess. Do a little research into what hashtag(s) should be used with your post or Tweet. Use a tool to identify hashtags that have traction or are trending. Twitter even puts trending hashtags on the left hand side of the page. Some sites we like for searching and identifying hashtags: hashtagify.me, hashtags.org, tweetreach.com, to name a few.
2. Be relevant. Use hastags that reinforce or compliment the content of your post and link. Baiting visitors with irrelevant or trending hashtags just to gain traffic is bad form and a good way to lose followers or get your account suspended.
3. Don’t go overboard. A good guideline is two hashtags per post. Beyond that, your post begins to appear spammy, and may do more harm than good.
4. Define your brand or event hashtag. This is a great way for everyone involved in your business to find each other. For everything from a product launch to prom, people who care about what you are doing can find each other’s comments when they search by hashtag. So, do your research, make sure it is easy and memorable, and notify all the members of your social media team so they can use it every time they are referencing your event or brand.
5. Keep it short and simple. Avoid lengthy hashtags and ones that are difficult to spell. Also, check to make sure that when spaces are removed that your hashtag doesn’t accidentally create inappropriate words. For example if you are promoting a bar on a private jet, using #barflight could be mistaken for what happens if you drank and hit turbulence.
6. Have fun every now and then. Occasionally, it can be fun to create a hashtag that pokes fun at a topic or one that will get a laugh. #thisblogrocks #betterthanacatvideo
Now you are ready to take that blindfold off and become a smart, in-the-know user of hashtags. Correctly identify and incorporate hashtags for all your social media platforms and you’ll see that reaching your customers is as easy as a child’s play.