The # symbol, or hashtag, is a way of drawing attention to a keyword in a tweet. There are four main reasons you might want to use them for your business:
1) They’re useful for spreading your message beyond your Twitter following. Many Twitter users use social media management packages like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage their twitter activity. Within these packages you can set up streams to follow keywords of interest. I follow #exeter and #socialmedia so people using these hashtags would appear in my stream, even if I don’t follow them. You can view popular hashtags and see how heavily used they are by typing them into www.hashtags.org.
2) They allow people to join in a conversation using an event hashtag (ie #london2012 #closingceremony). Lots of events/tvshows/radioshows use a hashtag. This allows people to send in their thoughts, opinions or questions to be answered by a presenter/panel, or to join in the conversation or follow info about the event by monitoring the hashtag in a keyword search stream. If your business is running an event you can make up a hashtag (check it’s not in use already) and then publicise it beforehand and encourage people to use it during the event.
3) They help to draw attention to keywords or concepts in your tweet. This can be strategic or just good fun! Drawing attention to a keyword or concept could be using #exeter or #socialmedia to hope you’ll get wider coverage for your tweet or you could highlight the main thrust of your tweet by adding a hashtag like #beattheheat to ‘Did you know our coffee shop also sells delicious thirst quenching iced coffee too? #beattheheat’.
4) You can make up a hashtag and encourage people to use it (to raise your business profile or an issue relevant to your business). A great example of a recent hashtag success story was the campaign to get Nottingham trending using the hashtag #nottinghamrocks. Set up by some social media savvy Tweeters, they spread the word and got the hashtag trending worldwide for a few hours, the result being it massively raised their profile as social media experts as well as creating some togetherness and feel-good factor for Nottingham Tweeters. Other ideas may or may not get people jumping on the bandwagon but you can have fun trying!
So there’s a variety of ways you can use a hashtag to promote your business on Twitter. I hope you found it useful. Let me know any success stories.
Marie Leverett (Social Media Manager)