Harness the power of hashtags

After humble beginnings on Twitter just a few years ago, the hashtag has grown to become a more powerful marketing tool than many thought possible.

According to Lee Hawksley, managing director of ExactTarget Australia, when used correctly, hashtags can drive engagement that builds loyalty and brand advocates across a range of social media platforms.

“Approached thoughtfully and strategically, hashtags can be a really effective way to break through online chatter and better communicate with your audience,” Hawksley said.

Hawksley’s top tips for using hastags:

Build anticipation

Businesses can use pre-launch hashtags to gauge and build the level of interest in a product. This can help spread the word about new offerings, as well as predict sales levels.

Be consistent and simple

New hashtags are constantly being created, making a lot of noise. Use the same hashtags when referring to your business and products so your followers can find relevant tweets quickly. Having consistent hashtags also means followers can easily add your familiar hashtag to their posts. Remember that shorter hashtags work best.

Create a community through a hashtag

It’s important to remember the ‘social’ part of social media: Twitter is about your followers and interacting with them, and your followers interacting with each other. Providing a community hashtag such as #[brand]chat lets followers interact with each other and your brand in one place.

This may also lead some followers to ‘self-service’, addressing minor questions about your business to fellow tweeters rather than customer service.

Be relevant but not too self-promotional

Twitter is about engagement, a place where people share thoughts and opinions = don’t bombard followers with constant self-promotion or they will quickly unfollow. Focus on building followers through genuine engagement and conversation. Think about retweeting, replying to, or adding followers’ tweets to your favourites. This shows you’re open to two-way dialogue and value their input.

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