#Hashtag…By now, you have heard the phrase. Although most people have heard of it, they do not understand its origin or why hashtags are important. Hashtags are here to stay and even small business can utilize them for conversation, marketing and growth.

The Beginnings

Long before hashtags existed, the “#” symbol was referred to as the “pound sign” or “number sign.” Its history goes back to the 1960s. In 2007, the symbol was first introduced on Twitter. Now, more than 20 websites support hashtagging. The tool has expanded to websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more.

How do hashtags function? Basically, insert the “#” character in front of chosen text string. The hashtag can be placed anywhere in a tweet or post. Sites like Twitter will create a link to all posts containing that text string. In a way, it indexes all the posts to one page. It’s a way to create conversations or promote an action. It has marketing potential to promote a product or service, which will create expansion for your small business.

All About the Strategy 

As easy as it is to throw out a hashtag in a tweet or Facebook post, using them should be carefully executed. In other words, small businesses, like any company, need a strategy.

Thankfully, there are a few helpful tools available. For instance, there is hashtagify.me. This search engine is helpful for selecting hashtags for social media marketing campaigns.

With a free account, you can access tutorials on hashtagging as well as an encyclopedia of hashtags. Each hashtag contains an explanation, so you do not use something already in use. Hashtagify.me is best used for finding a hashtag relevant to your small business.

Additionally, there is hashtags.org. This website assists businesses both big and small. It is one-part search engine and one-part teaching tool. Hashtags.org gives users basic tips on etiquette and how to make them a part of your social media strategy.

Then, there is Tagboard. Businesses can search utilize this website to seek the popularity of hashtags. This website creates a visual collection of posts associated with a particular hashtag.

Now, What?

You’re probably now asking yourself, but now, what? Once your research is done, you can effectively utilize hashtags into your business marketing strategy.

Firstly, be relevant! According an infographic by the Huffington Post, “a fitting tag can help drive brand recognition, boost the reach of an advertising campaign and positively impact customer loyalty.

#Tips

  • Choose ONE hashtag for your small business.
  • Do not use more than two hashtags per tweet or post.
  • Be obvious, choose a hashtag that is both easily remembered, simple and action-based. Don’t use something too long!
  • Make use of user-generated content by reposting it on your social media networks and website (BUT make sure you have permission).
  • Run a contest or offer a discount or deal for consumers using a certain hashtag.
  • Participate in small business Twitter chats.
  • Join the conversation of things happening in the world. Own a dress shop? Ask your followers whose dress they like at the Oscars.