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Written By: Giselle Aguiar

What is a Hashtag and How do I Use it in Social Media Marketing?

A hashtag is the pound or number sign (#) placed in front of a keyword or phrase to make it clickable and searchable.

Twitter invented them, but they are now used in Google+LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. There are rumors that Facebook is going to adapt them, but they haven’t so far.

Hashtags only work with letters. As soon as you add a space or other character, it only takes the letters that are immediately adjacent to the #.

Yes: #socialmedia#cybersecurity,

No: #social media, #cyber-security

There are several ways to use hashtags in social media marketing:

  1. Add them to your tweets and posts to target a specific audience – be consistent in using them. When someone clicks on it, all your posts will come up.
  2. Use them for a Twitter chat – schedule a Twitter chat and assign it a hashtag. Participants can tweet questions and answers with the hashtag to engage in the conversation.
  3. Use them during a live event or webinar and encourage participants to tweet about it or ask questions.
  4. Ride on a trend’s coattails. Today for instance, I’ve been having fun with: “#ObamaCareInThreeWords” “#IfYouKnowMeYouKnowThat” and “#iGetAnnoyedWhenPeople.” Be creative. How can you use these to promote something, contribute, or just have fun? Check what’s trending on Twitter and Google+ a few times a day.
  5. Add them to your bios on both Twitter and Pinterest.
  6. If you have a decent marketing budget, you can pay to be at the top of searches in Twitter with a “promoted tag.” You’ll see these used for product launches, movie openings, special promotions, during elections and for countless other marketing campaigns.
  7. Take advantage of breaking news, a live event or strange occurrence. One of the best uses of this was Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” campaign during the blackout in the middle of the Super Bowl.
  8. Use them for customer service. Monitor your company name with a hashtag in front of it. A good example of this is a story told by a CBS News Technology contributor (pardon, but his name escapes me). He was flying on Delta to San Francisco and he had an issue with the Delta agents at the departing airport. The flight he was on happened to have wifi. He tweeted about his problem with just using Delta’s name. A follower of his replied back, “Use #Delta.” He reposted the tweet and as soon as he landed, there was a Delta employee waiting for him at the gate with an apology and a gift certificate. Their customer service crew was monitoring #Delta.
  9. Tweets with hashtags have a better chance to get retweeted. That’s a goal when using Twitter – to get your followers to retweet (share) your tweets to their followers.
  10. Create your own hashtag, but look at it closely to see if it looks good.

Check out these “Hashtags Gone Wrong”

Here are some Hashtag Tips:

  • Use the same hashtags consistently – I use #socialmedia on every post that I send relating to social media.
  • Check to see why a hashtag is trending before you use to promote yourself. You don’t want to offend anyone.
  • In Twitter, use no more than 3 hashtags in one post. You only have 140 characters so don’t load it up with hashtags. Don’t duplicate words. Add the hashtag in front of words in the sentence.
  • Use as many as you want in Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn & Instagram – you’re not limited in space as with Twitter.
  • Use TweetDeck to monitor several hashtags at once. It’s a free software program or an add-in to the Chrome browser.
  • Monitor influencers and experts in your field and see how they use them, if they use them. If they don’t use them, you’ll be a step ahead!

About the Author:

With over 18 years of Internet Marketing and web design experience under her belt, Giselle Aguiar, the AZ Social Media Wiz, and award-winning writer, can help a business grow and increase visibility by leveraging the power of social media and content marketing. She specialized in assisting small businesses improve brand recognition, SEO and website traffic through social media marketing strategies, training, set-up, implementation, & coaching. For more information visit: http://azsocialmediawiz.com 602-738-1700