Hashtags are crucial to branding your company in the social media space. Once you know how to use hashtags to build your brand, you can engage your audience, increase your follower count and drive people to your product from every social media site. In this article we explain how to Use Hashtags to Build Your Brand.
Take Time to Research Your Hashtag
It’s tempting to want to cash in on an already-popular hashtag. But you’ll just be diluting the value of your hashtag.
Canon introduced the hashtag #BringIt in one of its recent ad campaigns.
Of course, #BringIt is popular slang and it’s also a show on Lifetime. So you can imagine being Canon’s social media manager and sifting through thousands of #BringIt hashtags to find those that are specifically related to your brand.
As of this writing, out of the last 100 tweets using the hashtag #BringIt, only 5 were related to Canon. Three out of those 100 tweets using #BringIt were from Lifetime promoting a new season of the show Bring It, four were from Beach Body’s official Twitter account for the P90X exercise DVDs, two were from Bounty paper towels and the rest were from people using #BringIt as slang.
Take time to research your hashtags. You want to choose a hashtag that’s going to allow you to measure its results, easily see what your audience has to say and interact with them for your branding efforts to be successful.
Develop Your Branded Hashtag
Now that you’ve studied what’s out there, you’ve probably crossed some ideas off your list while discovering gaps you can fill with your own hashtag.
You want to choose something memorable that’s not going to compete with other hashtags so now you’re ready to further develop your branded hashtag.
For example, if you’re creating a hashtag for a local newspaper in Texas, #TexasNews is too broad of a hashtag. Think of your tagline, your company’s direction and how you brand your coverage. Let’s say your local audience knows your tagline as “Your Texas News Source.” You can develop a hashtag that ties in with how you’ve already been branding yourself. #TXNewsSource could be the right hashtag for you.
You always want to choose a hashtag that has substance. If you don’t, you’ll end up being the only one using your hashtag, which defeats its purpose.
Type Out Your Hashtag
The visual look of your hashtag is another key element to consider. Take our example above and test out the variations:
Type your hashtag in all lowercase letters, all uppercase and uppers and lowers. You will easily be able to tell which one stands out, is easy to read and will make your hashtag memorable for your audience. You want them to type your hashtags in their posts too so it needs to be something they remember.
Make Your Hashtag Unique to You
You want your hashtag to stand out, but you’re competing with a clutter of hashtags. Do some digging to find a hashtag that has minimal overlap, if any.
CNBC did this when the network added Shark Tank reruns to its schedule in early 2014. The show is still airing new episodes on competitor ABC, which uses the hashtag #SharkTank. CNBC wanted a unique hashtag to promote its back-to-back airings on Tuesday night so the network came up with #SharkTankTuesdays.
Don’t Make Your Hashtag Too Long
Make sure your hashtag isn’t too long. This is particularly important for your Twitter users. You want them to use your hashtag and retweet your posts. If your hashtag is #WeAreYourNumberOneNewsSource, you’ve already cut into 29 characters of their 140 character tweet.
Between your headline, link and anything they want to comment on, every character counts. You don’t want to send your Twitter audience into edit mode because the first characters they’re going to cut to make their message fit will be your hashtag if it’s too long.
Use Your Hashtag Everywhere
You want your hashtag to become synonymous with your company. Your hashtag is useless if you’re the only one using it.
Hashtags build your brand if you use them everywhere. Use your hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and anywhere else you have a social media presence. But also use them in your email signatures, on your website, on your business cards, on-air, in print and even on your company cars. Own your hashtag and you will become the media company known for that hashtag.
If you don’t use your hashtag with every post, you should be coming pretty close to hitting the 100% use mark. Your hashtag won’t be successful if you’re not consistently putting it up with just about every tweet or post.
Take a look at KitKat. The company chose #HaveAbreak as its hashtag to go along with its “Have a Break, Have a Kit-Kit” tag line. Check out KitKat on Twitter and you’ll find almost every tweet includes the #HaveAbreak hashtag.
Develop Special Coverage Hashtags
Your media company undoubtedly has times when you have opportunities to attract and engage your audience with special coverage hashtags. You don’t want to diminish the power of your hashtags. You want to use them to build upon the brand and establish your product as an authority both online and off.
Hashtags can amp up your coverage for these special events and news stories. Include election night, high school football and stories that have long-term buzz attached to them, such as a controversial feud between city officials. Be very selective when deciding upon these special coverage hashtags. Not every story deserves its own hashtag. Most can fall under the umbrella of your main hashtag, which is #TXNewsSource in our example.
Think of your hashtags as advertising and use these special coverage hashtags as if you were paying for them. Burger King uses #BeYourWay to go along with its “Be Your Way” slogan. However, when the company released its new Satisfries french fry option, the company introduced the #Satisfried hashtag. BK continues to brand #BeYourWay but with a new product release there’s room for #Satisfried too.
Think of your hashtags for special coverage the same way. You don’t want a hashtag for every news story, but some are more buzzworthy than others.
Capitalize on Trending Hashtags
If you’re not seeing trending hashtags, you’re missing out on a way to introduce people to your hashtag. That doesn’t mean you chime in on the trending hashtag just to promote your own, though. The same social networking rules for media pros still apply.
Your goal is to choose a trending hashtag that you can provide value to in your own posts. Do you have a local angle to a national story that’s trending? Promote it.
If #NFLdraft is trending on Twitter and you’ve got an interview with a top prospect, promote it:
Will he be a first round #NFLdraft pick? We’ve got the Elijah Wardley interview everyone’s talking about tonight. http://bit.ly… #TXNewsSource
Use Hashtags to Interact with Your Audience
Hashtags shouldn’t be used for a one-sided conversation. Interact with your audience using your hashtags.
The show MasterChef does an excellent job of utilizing hashtags to engage the audience. With each segment, MasterChef features a hashtag related to what you’re seeing. In a challenge to whip up a box of donuts, MasterChef put the hashtag #BoxOfDonuts on the screen to drive people to talk about the challenge through social media.
Of course, MasterChef has millions of people watching. If only a fraction of the audience uses the hashtag for that segment, that’s still thousands of interactions.
On a smaller scale, when someone uses your hashtag and makes a comment, interact where appropriate and re-use your hashtag again to reinforce your brand. This is where it’s important to have a social media policy in place since your employees will be interacting with your audience.
Track Your Hashtag
You’ve made all of these efforts to build your brand through hashtags. How do you know if it’s working?
There are many tools available for you to start tracking your hashtags. From tracking your Instagram hashtags to your Twitter hashtags, you’ll be able to see detailed data, bar graphs and other hashtags people use in conjunction with your own.
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Nicholas H. Parker is an experienced business coach and marketing manager. He also writes articles at Buy Essay Club to share his knowledge with others. He is highly interested in the web design sphere.