Hashtags: Join in the Conversation

You’ve probably seen them, or have at least heard of them, but you may not be sure what they do or how they work: HASHTAGS.

What are hashtags? They are those pound signs you see in front of words or phrases on social media sites such as #bestdayever or #SuperBowl. They started on Twitter, and now they are everywhere including Facebook, Instagram and Google+. You likely have seen them on TV shows or ads where they have been incorporated into marketing campaigns in order to get people talking about the show or ad on social media.

They may annoy the heck out of you if you are friends with that person that hashtags their entire day. Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake recently tackled this issue:

But if you are the savvy social media businessperson that we know you are, then you know hashtags are a great way to connect people to your brand and you’re ready to put those hashtags to use in a productive way. How? Join in the conversation. Or start a conversation of your own.

Hashtags allow social media users to see who is talking about a specific topic. This topic may be as casual as pumpkin lattes in the fall or as newsworthy as the presidential election. The topics you will want to join conversations about will depend on your business and your target market. If you are marketing an apple orchard in Upstate NY, you might be interested in conversations featuring hashtags such as #ILoveNY or #fall or #applepicking. Or you could add a hashtag to a post of your own, inviting people who are interested in your topic to find, and join, the conversation: The weather is beautiful today and the #applepicking is at its wonderful peak!

Twitter gives you some help in identifying trending topics as well. When you login to Twitter, on the left-hand side is a box titled “Trends”. These are topics that are hot on Twitter and that you may consider joining in the conversation about.

Hashtags are a very useful tool for connecting with people (and businesses) that are talking about and interested in a common topic. Use this to your advantage and get your business involved in conversations relevant to what your business does and what your target market cares about.

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