Twitter Hashtags as a Marketing Strategy

Twitter hashtags are simply words or phrases with the hash symbol (#) attached to the beginning (e.g. #hashtag, #Twitter, #marketing).

Hashtags are used by Twitter users (Tweeple) to search for tweets related to their area of interest. Many “Tweeple” subscribe to specific hashtags using the saved search facility, while others perform regular hashtag searches of topics they find interesting.

If you’ve used your hashtags correctly, your tweets will show up in the list of search results when a Twitter user searches for your chosen hashtags. Using hashtags as part of your Twitter marketing strategy means that your tweets will be read by a much wider audience.

Choosing your hashtags

When choosing which hashtags to use for your tweets, it’s important to think about your target audience and which search terms they may be using. For example, if your company sells cat food, your target audience may well be cat owners, but they are unlikely to search for hashtags like #catfood. They are far more likely to search for hashtags like #cats and #pets. Ideally, you should use no more than 2-3 hashtags per tweet. Don’t annoy your audience by making every word a hashtag.

Where to put your hashtags

Placement of hashtags is generally best at the end of your tweet. If this is not practical, try to place them at the beginning. Placing hashtags in the middle of your tweets can be distracting and confusing for your audience.

Using “trending” hashtags

Trending hashtags are hashtags that have become extremely popular within the Twitter community. Hashtags “trend” when they are being used, and searched for, by large numbers of people. Trending hashtags are usually short lived, but if you use these hashtags at the right time, your tweets are likely to be seen by thousands of people who you would not usually come into contact with.

Use your Twitter homepage to keep an eye on which hashtags are trending. When you spot a trending hashtag that you think you can contribute to, send out a tweet using the hashtag. Make sure that your tweet is relevant to the topic. Don’t “piggyback” on the success of a trending hashtag by using it to market unrelated content, as this will only serve to annoy Twitter users.

Starting your own trend

Getting a hashtag to “trend” is no easy task. However, if you can come up with an original hashtag, or even resurrect an old favourite, to capture the imagination of a large amount of Twitter users, you can create a huge amount of exposure for your marketing campaign. Choose hashtags that encourage Twitter users to share something about themselves and their lives. For example, hashtags that encourage people to divulge their favourite movie (e.g. #myfavouritemovie) are more likely to garner attention than a simple movie (#movie) hashtag.

Using hashtags to communicate with your customers

Hashtags can also be used as a way to receive feedback from your customers. Choose an individual hashtag that no one else is using and ask your customers to use the hashtag in their communications with you. This can be a good way to answer frequently asked questions, rather than having to reply directly to every single query. Remember to keep track of your hashtags and reply regularly. Desktop clients such as TweetDeck and HootSuite can help you to organise and keep track of your hashtags.

Over to you

Are you tapping into the power of the hashtag? How do you use Twitter Hashtags? Have you been successful? Share your experiences below…

About Omar Kattan
Omar is MD & Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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