Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hashtags: Dos and don'ts for your small business

When using social media to boost the reach of your small business, there are tools of the trade to master. For Twitter and Facebook posts, an important technique involves the use of hashtags, or keywords accompanied by the now-ubiquitous pound sign (#). Understanding the role these tags play in a post will give your marketing efforts a boost. Here are a few dos and don'ts to remember:


Choose tags carefully. Deciding on the proper tags to add to your Twitter and Facebook posts should involve research. If you decide inventing a hashtag is the right move for your subject matter, use a keyword or phrase that has the potential to catch fire with social media users (you can explore keywords trending on Google and Twitter to see what might work). In most cases, you will be joining in on other conversations and using existing hashtags. Whenever you chime in on Twitter, realize everything else posted on that thread will appear on the same page as your tweet.

Keep a cap of two tags per post. According to Twitter, adding more than two tags to a given post is the wrong approach. Considering the limited amount of space you have for content (140 characters with everything included), there is hardly enough room anyway. More than two tags will make your tweets seem like spam, and they could be ignored by followers and users who come across them during searches. Choose the most relevant two tags, or just stick with one that comes closest to your brand message.

Be simple, yet specific. Say you are marketing designer handbags and see a gorgeous vintage bag from a famous designer. You might decide posting a photo of the bag would attract attention (and you would be right in most cases). Tweeting with the tag of #handbag would not help you find your audience. Something along the lines of #vintagediorbags would find more people on the network. Keeping it brief is equally important. Longer tags, such as #gorgeousvintagediorhandbag, are less attractive to users and less likely to be sought out in the course of a visit. Use this same approach—specific, yet concise—for keywords in company blog posts.


Overthink hashtags. Getting too cute with a tag can work against the reach of your tweets. As with overly long tags, choosing keywords with abbreviations or clever misspellings will end up finding fewer social media users. Before you try to market durable socks as #soxuware4evr or something just as obscure, realize it is unlikely anyone will understand your message, let alone search for it. In place of cleverness or excessive use of Internet slang, use proper spellings and accurate descriptions.

Join a conversation without adding value. It can be tricky for a business to jump into a conversation on Twitter or Facebook and try to market to the established audience. People will see right through an overt pitch, so tread lightly if you want to join in a trending topic using an existing hashtag. Only chime in when you have something interesting to say that will add value to the discussion. If you cannot find a way to strike the balance, approach the subject from another angle.

Expect the best results for free. Twitter and Facebook both limit the amount of organic reach marketers can enjoy. For that reason, the full impact of a marketing campaign is typically only possible when you pay for promotion on these sites. Even with a solid strategy for hashtags, your posts are not going to reach the masses without paying for them to be amplified beyond your followers. As with any other marketing investment, weigh the costs against the benefits your company might enjoy with social media marketing.