AKRON (Jan. 6, 2014) — #IDoNotKnowHowToUse #ConfusedbyHashtags #WhatAmIDoing
Does this sound like you? No worries, I am here to help.
Hashtags are being used across the board on social media, but they differ slightly depending on the site. I want to break down how hashtags operate on the different sites and then also give you some quick hits about how to use them.
Before we get into that, let's touch on why it is important. Hashtags can be used for a lot of different reasons, but mainly they're used to extend your reach to help with your engagement on whatever site you are on. This can be used by simply using a trending hashtag—one that is popular and used often on a site—because anyone that would be looking up that topic could see your post.
Generally speaking, when you click on a hashtag, you will be re-routed to a different page that will populate all the posts that use the hashtag. That way you can see the posts that are similar context to yours.
One thing to think about even if your business decides not to use hashtags. People are using them on these various social media sites, so even if you aren't using them, you should still know people may be using them about your business.
An UBERVU Hashtags report said, "You should monitor hashtags related to your brand and even just your brand name."
Now let's get into how these connecting tools can be used on different social media sites.
Twitter is where #hashtagging all began. According to a Mashable.com article, "Twitter hashtags are mainly used to denote specific topics of conversation; the 'Trends' sidebar of your Twitter feed curates a list of hashtags you might be interested in, based on your tweets."
The UBERVU Hashtags report explains that another way that people are using Twitter and hashtags are by holding Twitter chats.
"Perhaps you set aside a certain time every week to answer direct questions from followers," the report said. "Or maybe you host a chat that discusses the latest happenings in your industry…."
These chats can help engage your audience. A great way to reach out to your customers is to hold these types of chats if they have questions, for instance, about car care or any of the services you provide. If this is something you think you would do repeatedly, than you can even add your personalized hashtag to your Twitter profile so your followers can check back on anything that has been asked—and answered—in the past.
Facebook did not jump on the hashtagging bandwagon until June 2013, well after most of the other sites had adopted the connection mechanism. The big thing to note about how Facebook differs from Twitter in regards to hashtagging is that many people on Facebook have privacy settings set up. The UBERVU Hashtags report states, "While the majority of Twitter accounts are public (only 12 percent of accounts are protected), the opposite is true on Facebook (only 28 percent of accounts are completely public.)
This means that hashtagging efforts on Facebook may not produce the same results if people are participating with you on the hashtag because their privacy settings may alter what people can see when searching the hashtag.
Instagram is picking up its business presence, especially with larger companies. For a smaller dealership, you can still be active on the site because we are learning that social media is going to become even more visual in 2014. The first step here, really with any of the sites, is to use #yourcompany and see if anything pops up. If you are a national brand, there may be something already started. If you are a smaller dealership and there is nothing, you can use it yourself with different photos or campaigns you want to run.
Google+ works in the same way as the other sites, however, it will also auto generate relevant hashtags. This is something other sites, as of now, are not doing. So if you are posting on Google+ and not using hashtags, the site is making them for you. This does not mean that you cannot use your own hashtags; just that Google+ will add some to it.
Hashtagging has the same basic principle on Pinterest as the other sites, but it is a little different. The UBERVU Hashtags report explains that on Pinterest, clicking the hashtag will display other pins with the hashtags, but also pull up pins with the same word or phrase in the description. This means, if someone is doing a lot of pinning but not using hashtags, you should still be able to pull up their pins by using the hashtags you want to search for.
This is kind of the "trick question" of hashtags because they no longer work on LinkedIn. The UBERVU Hashtags report said that although existing hashtags still appear hyperlinked, when you click on one you will be redirected to a Help Desk page.
Why is this important?
If you are using a social media dashboard, such as HootSuite, to send out mass messages to all of your social media sites, make sure you are not including your messages with hashtags to LinkedIn. With that in mind, remember LinkedIn is designed as a business site, so there is information you would post to Facebook and Twitter that are more "fun" that you shouldn't be sending to LinkedIn anyway.
Playing around with hashtags can improve your visibility. It is also a great way to get campaigns going throughout different social media sites by using the same hashtag throughout.
When you are using hashtags, you don't want to use too many in one post. The idea is to get people interacting with them—so if you have five hashtags in one tweet, that can be overwhelming.
Here are some other helpful hints:
- No spaces or punctuation in hashtags, it will break it apart.
- Using capital letters for the different words of the hashtag can help people see what you are trying to write.
- You can use numbers and letters in the hashtag.
Check out The Beginner's Guide to the Hashtag for more guidance.
Hashtagging is a great way to easily increase visibility for your business. Want to start by utilizing some trending hashtags? Check out http://www.hashtags.org that lists current hashtags and some other helpful discussions.