Hashtags: Bain or Bliss
You've seen them, but what the heck are they? # = Hashtag.
The use of hashtags started on Twitter as an active and easy way to link subjects without using up your limited 140 characters. #LifeLesson
Hashtags are now on all social media. You can search by a subject within the individual Social Media outlets or even through major search engines, like Google.
But people still have no idea what they are.. why? Because most people have no idea what they are doing. Seriously. And typically Hashtags are just annoying filler for people that can't be cleaver on their own. #DumbRedHead #Red #Head #Dumb #AreYouKiddingMe #SupposedToBeFunny Why on earth would anyone think the subject 'Red' is a good search subject? Keep in mind, the purpose is to link to a common subject, not just random words or derivations of your main hashtag. I saw one recently for a restaurant, they hashtagged nearly every word in the body of their Facebook posting.
How do you make a Hashtag? Start out your subject with the pound sign '#' and follow it with any combination of words that make up the subject, without using spaces. You can use capital or lower case letters, doesn't make a difference. I tend to use capital letters to make it easy to read the hashtag subject, especially in print advertising campaigns. You cannot use any symbols at this time, but numbers are okay.
So, as a small business, should you use them or not?
If you are tracking discussions around a certain subject, advertising campaign or contest, then yes, hashtags are a great way to go. But, as always, know your audience... If you aren't offering an incentive for using a certain hashtag for your business, then forget it. Most people won't use it correctly. Hashtags are a young audience too. So tracking a campaign for eating out on Wednesdays with a coupon, probably not Hashtag worthy.
Now, if you are tracking images for a photo contest centering around a specific event, then the HashTag is your #1 super friend. Advertising the content to build interest and community is a great way to go. Plus you can search through all of the social media venues with the same HashTag without being active on all platforms.
How do you decide on a Hashtag? Start by searching online. If you have an event call the Irish Flag Dash, search that hashtag. If it is clear, then add the year to help keep your campaigns from year to year separate. #2015IrishFlagDash Now that's a great hashtag!! Easily tracked, easy to remember, timely and relevant.
What do you do with it once you've decided on a hashtag? ADVERTISE IT! No one is going to actively seek out a hashtag. You have to include it on all of your media, especially if you are running a photo contest. Make sure you include the hashtag on all online presence including your own social media posts. Don't expect a single post or PR to be sufficient. We are living a second to second media world now. Out of sight, out of mind has never been more prevelent than now. People not only don't go to the second page of a search enging or newsfeed, they rarely scroll down more than a page length.
So now when you see a post with 20 hashtags, feel free to roll your eyes and feel confident in the fact that you aren't THAT guy anymore. Enjoy the video from Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show! #Hashtag