What are hashtag and how do I use them?
Posted in | 30 January, 2014
Hashtags (that # symbol) seem to be everywhere these days. From Pinterest to Facebook and even at weddings, every day people – and businesses – discover just how powerful this humble little sign can be.
What is a hashtag and how does it work?
A hashtag is this symbol # and on social media sites such as Twitter or Instagram, it acts as a search tool or a way to organize ideas.
Clear as mud, right?
Say you wish to share your flower arranging business with people who are having a wedding in June. Is it more efficient to go door to door looking for potential brides or to go to a convention called “Getting married in June?”
It’s a no-brainer, right?
That’s what hashtags do. People share information on social media sites all the time, telling about what they are doing, planning or thinking about. Oftentimes, they label the things they care about directly inside their status updates, using hashtags.
The social media sites then collect statuses of people who include those hashtags, giving you a list of people who might be interested in your product. Instead of just looking through the millions of Twitter users who might be getting married in June, you can just search for the #MarriedInJune hashtag. Viola! A list of thousands of future brides that could use your services appears because they’ve all posted something on social media using the term #MarriedInJune.
Trending hashtags: How to make popularity work for your wedding business
Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram also keep track of which hashtags are being used the most. Although these hashtags may not relate to your wedding business, trending hashtags are a great way to get your message in front of a lot of people.
For example, if a juicy story is trending about a celebrity couple breaking up, you can use that to your benefit. You already know thousands of users are looking at the hashtag in order to get the most current news about the subject. You could write a status that includes the hashtag and increase your business.
@CakesByJen: It’s so sad about #Brennifer breaking up. I wish I could send them each a piece of cake.
Although that may not be your style, there are myriad ways you can use the trending items to keep your message in front of potential clients. And remember, keeping your messages helpful, funny and relevant is the best way to use the power of trending hashtags without looking like a spammer.
Researching hashtags for smarter posts
The downside of only working with the most popular hashtags is that your best customers are not necessarily there. Although you might get the most eyes on your message, you aren’t necessarily getting in front of the people most likely to purchase your wedding services.
That’s where hashtag research comes in. In order to ensure that you’re talking to the right people, you need to brainstorm and search for hashtags that your target demographic would be using. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, you might do a search for #wedding.
It’s clear from this hashtag that there is nothing on here but advertisements for other wedding businesses. That’s no good. What you want is a hashtag where there are real users talking about their wedding plans. So, a good idea would be to try #engaged.
Here, you see that there are actual users talking about their engagements. Although there is advertising, it is not the majority of the hashtag. And, there are new posts from within the hour, which means that this hashtag gets a lot of regular traffic. This is the perfect kind of setup for your wedding business. You get access to a large crowd of potential customers who really need your services.
Take a few hours and brainstorm every possible hashtag that your demographic might be using. Then, go through your list and see what kind of activity and marketing is being done on those hashtag terms. Although it is a little time up front, it is the best way to make sure that you are talking to the right people on your social media outlets.
The skinny on hashtags no-nos
What many people don’t understand is that there are unwritten rules about hashtag usage. While they can be an excellent tool, too many hashtags can have a chilling effect on your wedding business. In fact, more than two or three can turn potential customers off and make your business look like a spammer.
At the same time, you need to be using hashtags if you are serious about turning your start-up wedding business into a self-sustaining organization.
Use at least one every time you post and take note of the ones that are bringing in business. Then, you’ll have the best chance of putting your message where the right people are, without having to knock on any doors.
#GoodLuck – and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!