Over a couple of days I had been testing the use of hashtags and their unexpected results using different social platforms. My goal was to drive traffic from those social media platforms to one of my websites to increase it’s popularity.
What had happened was totally unexpected, I had literally increased traffic from next to nothing to over a couple thousand new and unique visitors.
Like most that use and experiment with social media platforms to increase the visibility of their websites or product, I examine what tactics work and where it comes from. What I had discovered was that most of that new traffic was from the use of hashtags.
I was absolutely thrilled, so I dug in deeper to research examine the proper use of hashtags. This post is the result of that investigation.
####What is a Hashtag?
[hash-tag] Digital Technology
- (on social-networking websites) a word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it:
The hashtag #sandiegofire was used to help coordinate an emergency response to the fire.
- a hash mark used in this way.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), hashtagged, hashtagging.
- to add a hashtag to (a word, topic, or message): Someone on Twitter just hashtagged the film festival.
####Simply digested, it means to add the number symbol or hashtag: # in front a single word or non-spaced phrase.
Social medial platforms use hashtags widely as a form of meta tag because they can be conveniently used to group together similar content. By the use of effective hashtags it can be used to allow users to quickly find content or related information on a particular subject or topic.
In 2007 Twitter first started using Hashtags, then the other social media platforms followed along. Twitter.com currently hyperlinks all hashtags to allow its users to simply click on the hashtags to use them more effectively.
Have you seen the Hashtag video on YouTube with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake?
###Benefits of using hashtags
Why do they matter and what are the good and bad of hashtags?
Do hashtags really matter?
They matter because they have become part of the way we communicate. For less than a decade Twitter hashtags have been around. They have gained in popularity so fast that no self respecting Internet Marketer could resist not using them.
Steve Cooper wrote on Forbes.com
“As ridiculous as hashtags might seem to marketing veterans who remember a time before Twitter and Facebook, the younger generation and potential customers/clients don’t. To them, using hashtags is as natural and common as typing their query into the search box.”
Creating content and promoting engagement about that content is how Internet Marketers build businesses. Hashtags can assist you to organize and group your content in to categories. Hashtags can be used to brand yourself or product. Hashtags also can be used to engage your customers in conversation about your content, brand or products.
Hashtags can be a fantastic tool for Internet Marketers if they are used properly.
They should be used to find or talk about your content, brand or products easily. They also can be used to spread your marketing campaign over many Social Media platforms and receive feedback from your customers. Hashtags can also be used to establish yourself as an expert in your focused area.
In the same token though they can be a detriment to your content, brand or product if used inappropriately. Researching is key, but using poor hashtags can backfire on your campaign. Remember once you create your hashtag, you lose control over it and how it is used. Monitor that hashtag for negative publicity or poor content. Do not over use hashtags, just as bad as not using them at all. They will be regarded as spam if used too much.
###Why free traffic is the best for beginning marketers
If you’re just starting out and trying to establish yourself as an Internet marketer, I definitely recommend using the free sites with hashtags.
There are more than two billion active Social Media accounts world wide. Social media has grown to be the way we communicate and connect with each other. This platform allows us to share our information and opinions on a world wide level.
You need to have a Social Media presence in order for you to compete with your peers. At the same time you can use this presence to generate income at the same time.
Using free traffic to advertise and keep your cost down is where the true benefits lie. Why would you not want to earn income and attract new customers with out having to spend money.
These techniques that you use on Social Media to brand yourself and your products are the same techniques that would be used later when you pay to have the advertising done for you.
Using free traffic from Social Media is a low cost way to grow your business.
###An Overview of websites where you can use hashtags
What are some other Social Media websites that utilize hashtags?
Twitter: The first social media platform to use hashtags, you can see whats currently trending if you look on the left of the page.
Facebook: Probably the largest of all the social media platforms. By clicking on the hashtag it will take you to a page displaying all posts related to that hashtag.
Instagram: A very popular photo sharing website. You use hashtags on the photos posted. Clicking on the hashtag will display other photos as well.
Google+: The main difference with Google+ is that it automatically adds hashtags to relevant content. Remember you can opt out of this feature.
Tumblr: It is a micro blogging website. When you create a post on that social media platform you can add tags. Tumblr will convert these tags to hashtags for you.
Pinterest: You can only click on the tags in the description of the photos and they are not search-able.
YouTube: Hashtags are more prevalent in the video descriptions and can be used to find similar content.
Vine: This website is owned by Twitter. Hashtags are commonly used here and can be search upon.
LinkedIn: Experimented with hashtags for a while before giving it up.
There are many more Social Media websites out there, other than the ones listed above that use hashtags as part of their services.
###How to discover highly targeted hashtags
There are several tools that can help:
Hashatit : Free! Allows you to search any hashtag and then breaks it down in to Social Media Platforms.
Findgram : Free! You can search hashtags and user names on Instagram. This is important as it allows you to see what hashtags others are using in your focus of interest.
Tagboard : Provides you with a more detailed view when you search for hashtags. A ton of great information here, on if the tag was positive or negative or even neutral.
Hashtagify : (One of my favorite websites) This site provides a visual representation of the hashtag and it’s top influencers.
When researching hashtags, begin with one hashtag that you think would be relevant to your website or product. When you see the other posts that are displayed you will definitely see other hashtags that you can research as well. Keep doing this until you discover all the hashtags that are the most effective ones to use.
###How to use hashtags (tips)
You should have a clear understanding of what hashtags are now and where to find them, let’s look at how to use them.
We’ll look at a four of the major platforms to show you what you can do to make use of them in the best way possible.
Is the Grandfather of hashtags and is currently the best place to leverage them.
- Ensure that you engage yourself with your industry and focus area conversations. Most new marketers find it hard to establish themselves as experts. Make sure that you follow your related industries leaders and use their similar hashtags to participate in their conversations. Especially on hot topics!!
- Brand yourself by creating your own hashtag. This hashtag should include your brand name. You need to pick something that conveys your brand, that will spark or initiate a conversation and sharing. In the same token though make sure that the hashtag is not something that could be used against you in a negative manner.
- Use hashtags to promote your contests and promotions. Who doesn’t love something free! Run a giveaway , combine it with a trending topic in your focus of interest.
- When you are at one of your industry events tweet live from that event. Most events have special hashtags setup so that people attending and others can follow along in the event.
- Take part in Twitter Chats. Use these chats to establish yourself as an expert and network with others in your industry. Remember social media is about being social so if you don’t see a twitter chat that appeals to you, start your own!
The use of hashtags is not as fashionable as they are on other social media platforms, but it does not mean that you shouldn’t use them either.
- Ensure that you take part in on-line traditions like #tgif (Thank god its Friday). Being part of the community is a fantastic way to get the word out about your website or product.
- Use hashtags sparingly on Facebook. Hashtags are not used as much like on Twitter and Instagram. Used only to influence a larger conversion on a relevant subject.
- Use a hashtag that has been working for you across all your platforms. In this way your product or brand is strengthened.
- If you’re a local business, make sure that you use the name of your city as a hashtag. This allows your local customers to find you.
Hashtags are probably more important on Instagram than they are on Twitter. Hashtags are the only way to get your content noticed on Instagram.
- Make sure that you use popular and relevant hashtags to ensure that your content is seen by larger groups of audiences.
- Ensure that you re-share your photos on Facebook, the hashtags that you used will carry over, ensuring that your content spreads faster.
- Use only relevant hashtags for your business, website or product. Using a well used hashtag that has nothing to do with your focus will not help you in the slightest.
- Use hashtags to promote a photo contest. Post a picture of someone using your product and asking for caption suggestions for hashtags. Winner gets a gift or something.
- Make use of your SEO keywords and be creative, an example might be that people may not search for #tires but they may search for #chevrolet .
Is a picture driven social platform, Hashtags are extremely important to help it’s users to find the info you post.
- Make a special hashtag to promote your new website or product. Then create a board for them and encourage people to share it.
- You can not hashtag the name of your board, your account description or name. You can use them in the description of your pins though.
- Mix unique and general hashtags to draw the most attention to your pins.
- 2 to 3 hashtags at the most, studies have discovered any more decreases engagement.
- Make a special board for your user created content. Encourage your users or customers to pin photos of themselves using your product and pin them here.
###How to track your hashtags
When you have begun to use hashtags in the promotion of your website or product you must track the hashtags that you used. Monitoring their performance is the key to a successful campaign using hashtags.
Using custom or unique hashtags can be tracked simply by searching for that hashtag on your social media platforms to evaluate their effectiveness.
If you are looking for detailed analysis, you’ll need to use a site like: Hashtracking
This website offers:
- Hashtag analytics
- Real-time analysis
- Embeddable info-graphics
- Lists of contributors
- Influencer analysis
They offer a 30 day free trial if you would like to try out their services. During your free trial you can try out all of the different features to verify your success.
Remember if you find a particular hashtag is not performing well, then drop it like a bad habit. You need to analyze hashtag performance to evaluate it’s effectiveness.
###Here are a few hashtag tips that are applicable for every platform.
- Keep your hashtags short and sweet. If they’re too long they will be more difficult for people to remember.
- Think of a hashtag as a conversation, not a just a label. They are used to keep people talking about your product and your brand.
- Display hashtags at media events and conferences. If you’re going to a trade show and have a hashtag that’s been performing well for you, make it part of your display and encourage people who visit your booth to use it.
- Monitor relevant conversations. Keep track of popular hashtags in your industry and follow the conversation. This can be a great way to keep abreast of what’s happening.
- Encourage and make use of user-generated content. Hashtags are a great way to get customers to participate in a conversation about your brand, and re-posting positive things people say about you is terrific advertising – and best of all it’s free!