How to Use Hashtags to Attract New Customers and Followers

With several billion monthly active users on social media, attracting customers is the name of the game for any business. The dog-eat-dog nature of the business world today means that business owners need to up their game. Getting new customers is becoming more difficult due to the amount of competition out there.

One of the latest ways to reach new customers is using hashtags. People as individuals are already using hashtags on social media to attract followers and connect with new people. Businesses are increasingly using hashtags to connect with prospective clients. This is part of the shrinking global community the world of social media has created.

Here are some steps businesses can take to use hashtags to their advantage:

1. Determine The Right Hashtags

All the hashtags in the world won’t help to attract new clients if they don’t trend. Coming up with the right hashtags isn’t a random process. A lot of forethought needs to go into finding the hashtag that will be a money maker.

What are the characteristics of a good hashtag?

  1. A unique hashtag: A business hashtag should capture the central essence of a business. The hashtag need not necessarily be the name of the business. Choosing something that’s product-related can trend more than the business name. Using a brand name can tank the trend instead of boosting it.

    A brand name that doesn’t specifically allude to the product or service being sold won’t generate much interest. For example, the hashtag #BondBrothers won’t be as effective as #YummyCookies. Customers won’t identify with the name of the organization as much as they will with the name of the product.

  2. Avoid double meanings: People see and read hashtags differently. A business needs to make sure the hashtag can only be read one way. As an example, #meandice can be read as ‘me and ice’ or ‘mean dice.’ The writer of the hashtag should run it past a couple of people to make sure there are no double meanings.

  3. Make a point and move on: The longer a hashtag is, the harder it is to read. A one-or-two-word hashtag will make a far bigger impact than a long sentence. People are scanning when they go on social media. Eyes will flit past something that’s too hard for the brain to decode in a hurry.

  4. Investigate the hashtag: Before launching the hashtag, run it through some social media searches. Make sure no other business is using the same hashtag. Otherwise, the hashtag will get lost in the other organization’s social media feed. Thorough research ahead of time will prevent such a scenario.

  5. Check the meaning: If a hashtag is already in use, make sure it doesn’t have other meanings. This rule applies to any hashtag. Often, words span languages. The meanings they have in these different languages can be very different. A word that means something positive in one language may be offensive in another. Bear in mind that customers from an international base are being sought.

  6. Use on multiple platforms: Decide on a hashtag and make sure it can be used across different platforms. There’s no point in having to come up with different hashtags for various social media platforms. Consistency and conformity across platforms are the keys to getting a hashtag trending.

How to Use Hashtags

2. Determine The Aim of Using the Hashtag

Hashtags are used across social media for different reasons. Before starting to use one, a business needs to delve into the intention of using a hashtag.

  1. Getting the business trending: Using the business, brand, or product name in the hashtag can get the business trending on social media. This attracts new customers when they see their contacts following, liking, or sharing the posts that include the hashtag.

    This is the first step in creating a social media marketing footprint. It should never be undertaken lightly as the hashtag might determine the success or failure of a business.

  2. Create a call to action: A call to action is a great hashtag that gets a lot of people talking on social media. Think about the groundswell of activity the hashtag #MeToo generated. While not associated with a business, the hashtag has shown the effectiveness of using social media to call society to action.

    A business can create a call to action by associating with a worthy cause, charity, or community organization. For a fashion retailer, a hashtag like #NoFur can be very powerful.

  3. Join in a conversation that customers are already involved with: Trending hashtags can be added to the posts shared by a business to attract attention to something potential customers are currently discussing on social media. Using an existing hashtag allows the business to take full advantage of a concept that’s already out there.

    Generating meaningful conversation around an existing hashtag allows the business to reach more people and gain more customers.

  4. Create a controversy: Generating a debate is a good way to get the business and brand in the public eye. Being politically correct won’t necessarily get people talking. Creating some controversy isn’t a bad thing. The level of controversy shouldn’t go to the extent of offending a lot of people.

    The aim of using a controversial hashtag is to provoke thought and meaningful conversation.

  5. Joining industry discussions: As more businesses than ever before are using social media, there are a lot of forums and groups based on their industries. A hashtag that creates a discussion between businesses in the same industry can lead to contracts and new clients as well.

    Offering meaningful posts that show knowledge about the industry will bring the organization to the attention of others.

  6. Engage with competitors: A bit of healthy competition with business rivals is never a bad thing. Using hashtags to get the attention of competitors gives the business access to the opposition’s client base. This is an opportunity to market the brand or products to new groups of potential clients.

    Be wary of attacking or defaming the organization’s competitors. Such actions can cause the failure of a social media marketing strategy.

3. How to Start Contemplating What the Right Hashtag Will Be

Given the number of factors to consider, it might sound like too daunting a task. There’s the risk of it all going wrong so perhaps it’s better not to try. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is help at hand and tools to use to narrow down the choices and make the best one.

  1. Webstagram: For businesses looking to use trending hashtags to draw attention to the product or service offered, Webstagram is essential. Anyone can visit Webstagram to see the hashtags trending on Instagram. Adding one of these hashtags to a post will generate attention.

    Choose the hashtag wisely. First, make sure the hashtag is relatable to the business. Second, bear in mind that trending hashtags change all the time. The soundest advice is to keep visiting the site to make sure that posts include up-to-date hashtags.

  2. Hootsuite: At Hootsuite, there are different tools for a social media content marketer to refer to. One of them is finding and filtering posts by location and hashtag. This allows the business to see what people are saying about the hashtags posted.

  3. Tagboard: Tagboard tracks relevant hashtags to allow businesses to collect public social media information. The tool tracks different social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Visit Tagboard to see what the service offers.

  4. TweetBinder: TweetBinder allows a business to collect information about its followers and the performance of posts by generating a Twitter analytics report. Entering hashtags will show how they are trending on Twitter. Such feedback can help a social media content marketer know if the approach is working or if it’s time to implement changes. A lot of heavy hitters from different industries use TweetBinder. Visit TweetBinder for more information.

  5. Hashtagify.me: On Hashtagify, users can search for hashtags and trends to make sure the correct selections are made. There are plenty of statistics online to help a social media content marketer to make wise decisions about hashtags. The site offers ways to analyze the world of social media marketing and make the most of it.

4. The Final Decision on a Hashtag

Upon doing the necessary research and deciding on the purpose of the hashtag, the time has come to make it a reality. Bear in mind that a post isn’t limited to one hashtag. Using multiple hashtags is a common practice. The secret is not to use too many. A lengthy list of hashtags could frustrate followers and cause them to disengage.

Look at some examples of the types of hashtags a business marketer should think about employing in social media posts:

  1. The action hashtag: This hashtag encourages followers to buy the product or service being offered. Think along the lines of #BuyOrganic, #BeDebtFree, or #LoseWeight as examples.

  2. The promotional hashtag: This hashtag is designed to highlight to potential clients and customers that the business is conducting a promotion. Examples of such hashtags would be #BlackFriday, #YearEndSale, or #PricedToGo.

  3. The boastful hashtag: Showing off the success of the business is a good way to attract customers. Potential clients like to see that an organization is accomplishing goals. Think of using hashtags like #Winning, #TargetReached, or #TopRated.

  4. The descriptive hashtag: Each business sits in a certain niche. To get the attention of potential customers, a hashtag giving a description of what clients can expect is useful. Those searching social media for something specific will enter a keyword. A hashtag that includes certain keywords will generate interest. For example, use hashtags like #bookkeeping, #FreelanceWriter, and #ComputerRepair to get good search results.

  5. The geographic hashtag: A descriptive hashtag is often served best when accompanied by a geographic reference. A lot of users search for a certain product or service they can access locally. Including a location will identify the business as being suited to their needs. Try to include the geographic reference in the descriptive hashtag like this: #HoustonBaker, #ChicagoSecurity, or #MiamiEventsOrganizer.

  6. The resonating hashtag: Existing and potential customers and clients like to feel that an organization understands them. This includes relating to their everyday experiences. Such hashtags are an excellent way of injecting a little humor into posts. Examples include #ThatMomentYouRealize, #BlueMonday, or #BestDayEver.

  7. The heartstring hashtag: Pulling at the heartstrings of customers and clients to get them involved in social causes shows the humanitarian side of an organization. This appeals directly to many people as it shows the business has a sense of corporate and social responsibility. Examples of such hashtags are #SaveTheRhino, #HurricaneRelief, and #StopDomesticViolence.

  8. The customized hashtag: This hashtag separates a business from others, even those within the same market or industry. Many companies rely on their slogans to create a customized hashtag. Slogan writing is important for conventional marketing. When writing a slogan, marketers are advised to remember that the slogan is now also relevant to social media marketing. The slogan should lend itself to being hashtagged for social media. An example includes the Always brand with its hashtag #LikeAGirl and Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke.

  9. The service hashtag: A lot of consumers want to see that an organization cares about them after the purchase is made. Including hashtags like #help and #support in a post attracts the attention of potential customers as they emphasize after-sales service.

A good post will include up to three of these hashtags. Deciding on which ones to use will depend largely on the nature of the post. Give due consideration not only to what the post is about but also to what the intended message is. These factors will guide the social media content marketer in making the final decision.

5. Technical Aspects of Deriving a Hashtag

Spelling and readability are essential in creating a good hashtag. “Despite the trend toward abbreviations and text speak, good grammar and spelling are important for a good hashtag,” says Ella Watson from essaygeeks.co.uk. “The entire post should be proofread and edited before posting. This includes the hashtag.”

Decide whether to use capital letters at the beginning of each new word in the hashtag. This is not a necessity. The best way to decide which way to go is to look at trending hashtags and competitors’ hashtags.

Make sure that the hashtag features prominently in the post. Most writers choose to put it at the beginning or the end of the post to draw the reader’s attention to it.

6. Monitoring The Hashtag’s Performance

Using the various online tools available, the success of the hashtag should be monitored. Looking at how many times new visitors have liked or shared a post is a good indicator of whether the hashtag is effective. The focus shouldn’t be solely on trying to generate new business. Posts should retain existing customers and keep them loyal.

Some hashtags may need to be tweaked or adjusted. Simply rewording a hashtag can make it more effective. Freshening up posts with new hashtags keeps competitors on their feet and customers wanting more. Trending hashtags are fickle and can change on an hourly basis. Monitoring them is essential to make sure relevant hashtags are being used.

7. Does Your Hashtag Make The Grade?

Keeping hashtags up to date makes posts visible and relevant. A good hashtag needs to get to the heart of the business and promote it. There is a lot of ‘noise’ out there generated by hashtags. Making a hashtag shout louder than the rest is important.

This may take more than one attempt. Being willing to adapt and adjust make for a successful online social media marketing campaign. Accept that hashtags may flop and be ready with something new to try.

8. Prepare for a Response

A good hashtag generates a response. A hashtag that generates no response should be taken on review immediately.

Feedback will not always be positive. Sometimes, a hashtag will cause a negative backlash. This happens often when a provocative, controversial hashtag is used. Not all readers will not take kindly to the hashtags used.

Think about the saying: any publicity is good publicity. This is true to a certain extent. Even if people don’t like the hashtag, talking about it does generate interest and traffic. However, there are times when hashtags can backfire if they push the boundaries too far.

Strive for a balance between opening a potential can of worms but at the same time generating marketing goodwill for the organization. There is no formula for working out the balance. Often, a process of trial and error is all there is to rely upon.

Respond honestly where a response is necessary. Baseless criticism should not be acknowledged. Look out for competitors fishing for information. Respond to positive comments in general. Attend to specific complaints and criticisms with transparency. These qualities tell customers and clients something about the business ethics of the organization.

To Conclude

Good hashtags can make or break a business. There is a lot of help and support out there for novice social media marketers. Make use of the resources for guidance to step into the world of hashtag use with confidence and success.

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One Comment

  1. Hi Jennifer. I’m Jonah from Hashtagify.me. Thanks for introducing us 🙂 It’s great to hear that you find our service useful!

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