If you add one to two hashtags to your business Tweets, you will increase your Twitter engagement by at least 50%. Hashtags are like labels that help you categorize your Tweets, making them easier to discover for people who are potentially interested in what you have to offer. Once a user clicks on a hastag, he or she is sent to a page that shows all the Tweets that use that hashtag, sorted based on recency and popularity.
A local business baking and selling pizza in Medford, Oregon, can use a tag like #bestpizzainmedford to increase the visibility of its Tweets and make it easier for prospective customers to find it. Even more general hashtags like #food, #restaurant, or #freedelivery can be used to market a brand on Twitter. But using Twitter hashtags to market your brand requires a bit more than adding relevant hashtags to your Tweets before publishing them. Here are a few golden rules for using hashtages effectively.
Use only relevant hashtags
All the hashtags that you use should be relevant to your business and your tweets. Moreover, they should be specific, without being however hard to understand. Simple, direct hashtags work best. But bear in mind that while it’s better to use a general hashtag such as #technology, #food, or #bar than none at all, the more specific your tag is, the better. You can also try to incorporate your location in the tag, especially if your brand handles most of the business on premise.
Don’t load your Tweets with more than two hashtags
Some users and brands load their Tweets with hashtags, thinking that more hashtags means more exposure. Wrong. Doing that is the equivalent of stuffing your blog posts or website content with keywords — it only confuses people and alienates them. Studies have shown that if your brand uses more than two hashtags, engagement drops by 17%.
Use the same hashtags across social networks
Hashtags may have originated on Twitter, but now Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social networks are using them, much in the same way. An effective hashtag strategy is to identify a few hashtags that are highly relevant to your brand and use them consistently on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and any other social network that supports them. A unified social media hashtag strategy will bring your brand more exposure.
Don’t use hashtags in Twitter ads that feature a call to action
Although hashtags are valuable, it is important to remember that in some scenarios they are not needed. A well-crafted Twitter ad ends with a call to action, which usually comes in the form of a tiny link. If you include hashtags to your ads, viewers won’t have just one clicking option (the call to action link) but two (the link PLUS the hashtag) and that can actually lower the conversion rate.
Use hashtags to promote user-generated content
One of the awesome things about hashtags on Twitter is that you can use hashtags to encourage your fans to create fun content for you. You can do this by coming up with hashtags that inspire people to photograph or film themselves while using, reviewing, or speaking about your product. For example, you can create a marketing campaign and hashtag such as #yourproductinthewild which could lead to an avalanche of Tweets with photos from customers photographing themselves using your product (whether it’s a drink, an item of apparel, or a gadget) in the most strange and hilarious places. Then you can retweet the coolest Tweets to show your appreciation for those customers. This strategy works because it shifts the focus from the brand to the customer, while keeping the marketing part.
Create dedicated customer service hashtags
An increasing number of consumers take their customer service problems straight to their favorite brands’ social media pages, and in particular Facebook and Twitter. Dedicated customer service hashtags that your users can add to their Tweets are an elegant way for you to deal with customer support questions on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, it can make it easier for you to filter and differentiate between customer support questions, and even assign them to different departments. Going a step further, you can answer customer service hashtags in real time, creating one-on-one conversations that can draw in other people and generate buzz on your Twitter page.
The Bottom Line
Tags are indeed important, and if you don’t use them, you’re losing exposure, not just on Twitter, but on all social sites that support them. Remember, however, that hashtags are like keywords and shouldn’t be misused or overused, else they become ineffective.