Since their initial creation in 2007, hashtags have been one of the flagship ways that people unite and discuss topics on the internet. Whether participating in organically made hashtags or composing tags for their audiences to use, businesses have depended on the power of hashtags in social media marketing. Using the right hashtag for your content marketing and branding strategy can propel your business forward with faster audience growth, more customer loyalty, and many other benefits.

Take a look at the five greatest powers of a hashtag, in the context of helping businesses and brands succeed. We’ll discuss how each of these strengths can be co-opted by a business like yours and provide advice for researching the best hashtags for your situation.

5. Helping New Customers Find You

Image via Flickr by verchmarco

Let’s suppose that a business selling unique desktop computer cases finds that people tend to use the hashtag #buildingmyrig when discussing different computer parts. People who construct their own computers love to share their knowledge with each other, so this is a continually active topic with healthy tags that this business could participate in.

Regularly posting social media content with such relevant, evergreen hashtags is an awesome way to draw more attention to your posts, and there is no reason not to do it. Just be sure not to abuse hashtags in your regular content. The ones you use should be clearly appropriate, and unless you’re posting on Instagram, using more than five per post is a bit much.

4. Capitalizing on Trends and Viral Topics

Many businesses have exploded into notoriety after making a great piece of content or social post that related to a trending topic. This is also why working with influencers, another great power hashtags offer, is so useful. When an influencer and their hashtags end up trending in the future, that will help to benefit your brand as well.

Keep in mind, however, that there are risks for businesses who employ sensitive viral hashtags and trends. Using hashtags related to tragedies, politics, and other precarious situations will require an artful approach. If you see a topic like this, ask yourself the following things:

  1. Are these topics relevant to my business in any way?
  2. Does my brand have something to offer these people in their current mental state?

If you answered “no” to either of these questions, the best option is to play it safe and stay away from a trending tag.

3. Connecting with Influencers

Influencers are people who have a large audience following them, and who could send a swarm of new customers your way if you work with them, or if they endorse you. These people range in accessibility and scope from celebrities to bloggers, but every brand has potential influencers out there that could connect them to new groups of people.

Influencers can relate to businesses because they are also immersed in branding and social media interaction. They understand the value of using hashtags and use them often. By using in the same tags and interacting with the content your preferred influencers make for them, you could make a strong impression so that when you suggest a marketing idea to an influencer, he or she will be more open to it.

2. Running Customer Events

Another awesome way for businesses to engage with their current customers and attract new ones is through hashtag events. For example, a gym could run a city-wide challenge offering a free lifetime membership to the winner and create a hashtag specifically for that challenge to promote the event on social media. One particularly awesome strategy is to host a challenge or contest that invites other people to make content for you, such as an art contest. In the case of the gym example, one requirement of the challenge could be posting a picture of yourself working out and adding the hashtag to the post.

If challenges and contests aren’t quite your brand’s style, consider more outright generous events such as giveaways and promotions. Having people answer a question while posting a hashtag could enter them into the event. If you want to really connect with your most loyal customers as directly as possible, consider also developing a live video marketing strategy, employing hashtags for increased reach.

1. Establishing Authority With Original Tags

Hashtags are awesome for businesses looking to build their name, and one of the best ways to do that is not merely using pre-established hashtags, but also leveraging an audience and marketing plan to create a new tag. This will take effort and consistency, but the momentum will snowball as more people grow to understand what your hashtag is about and feel like participating. Major corporations use this strategy in their marketing, but even smaller brands can build up a hashtag through consistent content marketing.

Creating a business hashtag will take a good idea and a fair amount of work, however. Here are some tips for getting the best results:

  • Make sure the tag is easy to understand on sight. Keep it simple and brief.
  • Research the kinds of tags your audience likes so you can create something they can relate to and find interesting.
  • Cleverness and humor are both good tactics for making a hashtag. If there is a particular emotion behind the tag, such as #winning, all the better.
  • Find some way of integrating your business name, niche, or something relevant to your online identity. If it’s not specific enough to your audience or business, the tag could get used for other topics and subjects, muddying the waters.

Always test out a hashtag idea with people you know. Give them no context and see if they correctly guess what the tag is about. If they don’t guess right, rethink the tag.

Hashtags make searching for specific topics, people, ideas, etc. easier, and they’re a fundamental part of the modern social media landscape. Getting your business seen with content marketing and social media activity will require testing ideas and tactics, but one thing is certain: put a little effort into using hashtags, and your efforts won’t go to waste.