What is a hashtag ('#')? and how do we use them for social marketing?
What is a hashtag ('#')?
Hashtags ('#') are now added to posts across most social networking websites, by individuals and companies alike. The # proceeds relevant keywords to the post being published. Take this example I gave a Dog walker friend of mine to use when uploading a couple of photo's:
Out this morning #dogwalking in #raynespark. Here's Mikey and Milly, they're such #cutedogs and #funnydogs. Get in touch if you need a #dogwalker
Each of the hashtags will link to a page that has a list of posts including it. So #raynespark will link to a page, or better said feed, with a list of all the posts including it. People click on these hashtags to navigate and find related content. The post being published will also appear on that page.
When we say the post being published we're referring to tweets, status updates, Facebook shares and any other piece of content that you may publish in the public domain.
Using #'s for social marketing.
Marketing is all about getting in front of the people looking to buy what you're selling. If nobody knows about your business, you'll obviously sell nothing. When we say social marketing we refer to getting in front of your audience through social networking platforms. Often leveraging real world relationships.
People click on hashtags everyday to find other related content to the post they are viewing. By adding relevant #'s you'll be displayed in those feeds and your post will no longer be all by itself relying solely on your followers.
Of course this can also lead to increasing your volume of followers too.
What #'s should I be using?
The answer to this requires research. Personally I like to look at the feed of the #'s to see if my posts suit the #.
If it looks suitable, there are some tools available online for you to look deeper into it. Like with keyword research, you want to be using ones where the readers may actually be in the market for what you're selling.
One such free tool is Topsy. They have every Tweet since 2006 when most people hadn't even heard of them. With Topsy you can quickly see how busy the # is. So if your content fits the #, people looking at the # are looking to buy what you have and it has lots of activity - you could be onto a winner.
You'll also want to know if many people are actually looking at the # feed, for that there is TweetReach.
If you'd like some # inspiration you can use Hashtagify. You enter the Hashtag you have in mind and they will show the related #'s.