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In my travels as a Constant Contact Authorized Local Expert, I have the honor and privilege of talking to people with differing levels of social media familiarity. When leading a class, I can almost predict some of the questions that will come up. One thing I can always count on is at least one or two head-cocked, puzzled expressions when I introduce the concept of “hashtags”. At that point I know some are wondering if I’ve gone off-topic and started to talk about what I had for breakfast instead of social media strategy.
Hashtags can admittedly be confusing to understand, especially because the ways in which they are applied varies so widely. Simply put, hashtags are a way to follow a conversation about a certain topic on social media. They were first created by users on Twitter, but now can be found on most social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr. Hashtags have become a powerful way to connect and promote brands, services, products, and events.
If you’re looking for a way to use hashtags in your social strategy, try one or some of these suggestions:
Create and promote a hashtag as part of your event. Getting people to your event is only part of the battle. Building excitement beforehand and inviting engagement during is part of a successful event marketing sequence. Creating a unique hashtag for your event and encouraging attendees to use it in their posts is a way to create a stream of conversation that can easily be followed. Dedicate a computer and screen at your event to display posts with your hashtags in real time to encourage even more posts.
Connect with others who are tweeting or posting with a hashtag you are interested in. Check out the conversation and peruse the profiles of others who are contributing. You might find some new and interesting people to follow or connect with…and there’s a good chance that you’ll end up with new followers, too.
Compose posts using trending hashtags. Have you ever noticed the “What’s Trending” sections on Facebook or Twitter? Usually a few hashtags can be found there. Those particular topics are very popular that day. Become a part of the mainstream conversation by composing a (relevant to your social strategy) post and increase your chance of being seen in others’ newsfeeds.
Catch the attention of an industry giant or influencer by using one of their promoted hashtags. I spent some time during the Super Bowl this year tweeting about the “Super Commercials”. Imagine my thrill when “THE” Coca-Cola replied to one of my tweets. I have heard similar stories repeated from many others...personal connection with fame via social media. This is particularly true on Twitter. If you want to connect with someone who feels out of reach, you just might be surprised when you tweet out a note of admiration using a hashtag they promote.
Host a “tweet chat”. This is a virtual event with the purpose of providing educational and/or useful information to an audience. A dedicated hashtag is key to bringing several professionals together in one place to lend their expertise to the chat. In this scenario, followers would be notified of the tweet chat prior to the scheduled date and time, and the kinds of questions they can prepare for the subject matter experts. The duration of the tweet chat is a Q & A session where the professionals are answering questions from the audience in real time. It’s a great way to extend reach, connect with your community, and gain followers for yourself and others.
The use of hashtags has been an interesting study for me. Just a couple of years ago, I wasn’t sure what the heck they were. Today they have even become part of our mainstream language. Just listen and I’m sure you will hear it in random conversations as one speaker’s way to get a “dig” or a sarcastic remark in. #notthatIveeverdonethat
Hashbrowns are great, and some people may still think that hashtags are just a fancy way to serve the classic fried shredded potatoes, but awareness is definitely growing. Get on the bandwagon now and serve up some great hashtags to your followers.
April Keating, a military spouse entrepreneur and mom of two young boys, is the owner & founder of online marketing firm Cre8ve Content Co. April is an expert with Constant Contact products and holds a Master Certification as a Solution Partner. She also is a member of the Washington, DC metro area Constant Contact Authorized Local Experts team. Click here to subscribe to April's monthly Cre8ve Chronicles newsletter.
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