Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Use Hashtags on Twitter

I had  a conversation with a small business owner the other day about how using the proper hashtags is essential on Twitter.  They immediately looked at me like I was crazy and asked, "um...what's a hashtag?"  That's when I realized that I needed to get the word out on what it was and how to use it properly.  Here is Twitter's definition:

Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

An example of a hashtag would be #socialmedia.  If I were to end a tweet with that hashtag, it would appear when someone did a search for "social media" using the Twitter search tool. Here are 3 ways you build your business brand with Twitter.

1. Get exposure beyond your followers:  One of my favorite things about Twitter is that someone does not have to be my follower to read one of my tweets (unlike Facebook).  If they do a search for a certain topic that I am writing about and use that hashtag (see #socialmedia example above), then they will see my tweet.  This is gold for any industry.  If you were in the health and fitness industry, it would makes since to use hashtags like #health and #fitness or #nutrition.  People that search for those topics would be exposed to your content. This is a great way to build your follower base as well as you are attracting people that are already looking for your niche.

2. Brand yourself or business:  A good way to subtly remind your followers what your brand is all about is to use the same or similar hashtags with each tweet.  Be sure to use tools likes to ensure that people are actually searching for the words that you use.  If you were a Pilates instructor in Plano, you could end your tweets with #pilates or #plano.  I do not recommend using multiple hashtags.  It can be overwhelming as people are going through their feed.

3. Be a part of the trend: When a particular topic or hashtag is "trending" it means that more people are talking about these subjects or topics than anything else.  It's great to get exposure in that kind of traffic.  You can find the trending topics on the left hand side of Twitter under "trends" on a computer or on the "discover" tab at the bottom on the mobile app.  Don't force the issue, but it's good to come up with a tweet to match a trending topic.  For example, as I type, #tweatyourweakness is trending.  Let's say I owned a bakery.  An opportunistic tweet could be, "bananas foster cheesecake #tweatyourweakness". Now the thousands of people that are in that trending conversation will be exposed to your brand and tweet.  Make sure the trending topic is relevant to your business.  No one likes the old bait and switch routine.

Here's a quick video to summarize:

Marketing is all about maximizing our exposure.  Hashtags, if used correctly, can double, triple or even quadruple the amount of people outside of your followers that you can reach with just one tweet.  I hope this helps make some sense of the little # sign in getting more exposure for you and your business.  Feel free to comment below and happy tweeting!  If you do comment, be sure to leave your Twitter handle so I can follow you.  Mine is @marketwithmario.

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