Scroll through any one of your social media feeds and you’re guaranteed to see hashtags. It may seem like hashtags are a (sometimes unintelligible) language of their own, but they actually have a useful function in marketing. Hashtags serve as links to re-route viewers to information on a certain topic. These topics can be as simple as “#Food” or “#Friday”, or they can be more specific and pertain to a particular event, product, person, or place. This isn’t something only kids are using anymore; companies are utilizing the symbol to promote their work and to help their social posts reach wider audiences. And while B2C brands were quicker to jump on the hashtag bandwagon, plenty of B2B brands are now using them with great results.
What is a Hashtag? (Yes, It is the ‘#’ Key)
A hashtag is when the pound sign (#) is attached to a word or phrase as a way to emphasize the message and link to other posts that have similar content. It’s a simple yet genius way of connecting information online through the tap or click of a tagged section of text, and it works. On Twitter, for example, tweets with hashtags get twice as much engagement and 55% more retweets. Using hashtags can help people find your content in two main ways: by searching for tagged keywords on social platforms or by clicking on hashtags within similar posts.
How to Hashtag the Right Way
Join the existing conversation. Using your social feeds to discuss current events in your industry and beyond and tagging posts with the appropriate hashtags is a great way to create relevant content that your target audience can easily find. Share content that adds to the conversation, especially when you’ve got a unique perspective given your industry experience, and you’ll be more likely to get engagement on your post. Take a look at what your target audience is posting and which hashtags they’re already using to get ideas for posts that will resonate.
In this Facebook post, Salesforce joins in on a larger environmental conversation and promotes their work to reduce plastic in the oceans.
Use specific but familiar words and phrases. Help your audience find you by using industry terms that they’re likely to search or surf on social media. You want to be specific enough that your content is linked to posts that are discussing the same thing but not so specific that people can’t find your posts easily.
Hashtags such as #aviation, #engineeringmarvel, and #innovationthatexcites add color to this post for GE’s followers while also making it easy to find for Instagram users who have an interest in engineering or aviation.
Keep it short. Hashtags can be made up of as many words as you want, but keep in mind that they don’t include any spaces. For this reason, don’t hashtag a phrase with too many words, as this may get messy and viewers might not comprehend the overall message of your post.
Promote an event. Tagging words pertaining to an upcoming event is a great way to raise awareness that you’ll be there and connect with attendees pre-show. People can easily click on tags to find more information or register. Then, continue using the hashtag during the event to drive traffic to your booth.
Make it catchy. Think of hashtags as a sort of slogan and choose something that will catch the viewer’s attention and stick with them.
Be authentic. Use your hashtags to spotlight your business's vision and voice. Social media is the perfect place to let your brand’s personality shine — and even to be a little more playful or experimental with your content than you might in a print or email campaign.
In this LinkedIn post, Intel emphasizes their mission to help “build a better world” with emerging technologies.
Understand the Hashtag Customs of the Platforms You Use
It’s important to keep in mind that each social platform works slightly differently and caters to different target audiences. As a general rule of thumb:
Use fewer hashtags in Twitter posts. (Remember that tweets are limited to 280 characters, so you don’t have much room for your content anyway.)
On Facebook, feel free to use as many hashtags as you’d like, but keep in mind that it’s not as common to “hashtag surf” on Facebook as it is on Twitter and Instagram.
Instagram is where hashtags come in really handy, as the platform’s Explore tab organizes images in large part based on hashtags. Use as many as you’d like, just know that posts with long lists of hashtags (think 10 or more) can start to look spammy.
LinkedIn is the perfect place for you to connect with other businesses, as it is there for networking. Use hashtags relevant to your content, but treat it like Facebook and avoid cramming too many hashtags in one post, as this can look unprofessional.
It’s hard to believe that such a simple symbol can have so much power in marketing, yet here we are using it in almost everything we post on social media. This discovery tool is a marketer’s dream — an easy way to connect with your target audience by simply tagging a word in your post. Do you have more best practices for B2B hashtags? Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to share your thoughts.
Header photo by Elena Koycheva
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