Hashtags are one of those things that just about everyone has a strong opinion about, whether positive or negative. There are people who fill each and every post with so many hashtags that their messages are barely recognizable as English. Others eschew hashtags completely, deploring their use. And then there are the Jimmy Fallons and Justin Timberlakes of the hashtag world, who laugh about their love-hate relationship with them.
But hashtags can definitely serve a purpose in any social media marketing strategy. The trick is knowing when and how to use them. Use them too much, and you risk looking spammy. But not using them at all means you’re missing out on marketing opportunities galore. The key is balance and moderation.
In order to demonstrate the wide variety of ways in which you can take advantage of hashtags to promote your business online, we’ve put together a list of 23 ways to use a hashtag.
1. Managing a conference: It’s a lot easier to get the word out about a conference you’re organizing if you’re able to refer attendees to a special hashtag they can use to search for updates and information.
2. Following a conference: For that matter, if you’re the one attending a conference, and you’d like to let your audience know, using the conference hashtag in your posts and tweets is a great way to get the message across.
3. Managing and following any event: And it doesn’t have to be a conference – from concerts to parties, and from huge conventions to more intimate seminars, if you’re putting on an event or attending one, hashtags are an ideal way to send and receive communications.
4. Emergencies: From coordinating relief efforts on a large scale, to simply letting the world know you’re closed due to extreme weather or some other mishap, hashtags are perfect for getting the word out during emergencies.
5. Themes: Want to classify your social media marketing tweets or posts by theme? Hashtags are like the Dewey Decimal system, except a lot less annoying.
6. Irony: Twitter users are famed for their often snarky attitude, so why not use that to your advantage and pile on some hashtag irony and sarcasm?
7. Humor: Sometimes, a hashtag makes the perfect punchline. In fact, they work so well as jokes that they’re becoming mainstream in regular conversation now. And humor goes a long way when it comes to marketing.
8. In real life: Speaking of hashtags in conversation, here you go. You don’t have to restrict your use of hashtags to social media posts. You can use them in emails, on your website, in ads or in commercials.
9. For greater visibility: Piggybacking on an already popular hashtag is one way of getting more visibility for your brand. But you can also promote a hashtag during a commercial or in a print ad, for example, to drive more people to your online networks.
10. Contests: Running an online contest? Have people enter by including your custom hashtag in their posts.
11. Campaigns: If you’ve got a marketing campaign in the works, you can leverage custom hashtags to promote it.
12. Holidays: Take advantage of holiday-themed hashtags to move onto people’s radar during these festive times of year.
13. To promote webinars or podcasts: Just as with an in-person event, webinars and podcasts can also be promoted using hashtags.
14. To connect your brand with a certain topic: If you’d like your brand to pop up whenever people search for a certain subject, stick relevant hashtags in your posts, and you will!
15. To find out about competitors: Now the shoe’s on the other foot. You can also search for hashtags you’d like to be connected with, in order to see which of your competitors have beaten you to it.
16. Memes: Memes get a ton of traction, and have the potential to go viral. Create your own hashtag meme, or let customers chime in with their own versions.
17. To give context: Hashtags are the perfect way to give context to an image or a quote without having to provide a long explanation.
18. To join in shared experiences: How often have you tuned in to an awards show or a big TV event…and then immediately checked Twitter to see what people were saying about it, via hashtag? Everybody does it, so get your company in on the fun, too.
19. Following online discussions: If there’s an online discussion going on that your company should really be involved in, adding those hashtags to your posts are the way to do it.
20. Creating a conversation: Don’t see an existing conversation you want to get in on? Create your own! That way you’ll get the benefit of being seen as a leader, as well.
21. Offer an incentive to tweet or post. Get your customers talking about you online by offering them a reason to use your hashtags. Promise a discount after a certain number of tweets using your hashtag, for example.
22. Industry Targeting: Want to make sure that people in a certain industry notice your posts and tweets? Give a shout-out to their industry via hashtag.
23. Current events: Everyone looks for information on current events using hashtags, so why not comment on what’s going on to get some added exposure? Just be sure to only comment on positive news, or to simply offer condolences in a tragedy – trying to make a profit off of others’ misfortune is not only wrong, it’ll produce a backlash more quickly than you can imagine.
So there you have it! 23 ways to use hashtags in your social media marketing strategy. Did we miss any that you’ve had success with in the past? Let us know about them in the comments section below!