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What's the Big Deal With Hashtags?

big deal hashtags

In this age where visibility means survival in business, you can't go wrong with a hashtag. They're elegant, simple and, once you realize how effective they can be to build your brand awareness, you might find yourself wondering how anyone managed to get anything done before this marketing strategy debuted.

The ubiquity of the hashtag is another facet of its success, and this includes physical media. If you're trying to grow your small business, you might be hesitant to cast aside all of your promotional materials, but fortunately, you won't necessarily have to. Not a social media aficionado? No problem. Take a look at the following ways the hashtag can make branding feel effortless, without making any major marketing sacrifices.

Hashtag basics

Also known as the pound sign, this little symbol that looks strikingly similar to a slanted tic-tac-toe board has become a commonly used emblem to denote interest in something on various social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram, and although some platforms may use it differently, the hashtag's core function remains the same - to help people identify with a topic. For instance, if you searched for "Olympics" on Twitter, anyone who has used the hashtag #Olympics somewhere in a tweet will soar to the top of the search results list. 

If it helps, try thinking of this strategy as if it were a streamlined version of keyword tagging. Search engine optimization, for example, typically uses phrases to build relevancy, and hashtags are virtually the same, but are much more obvious.

It helps you engage your audience

What better way to strike up a conversation with your audience than by asking them to contribute to your brand image? Hashtags let you get right to the heart of your ideas, and if you do the work of setting up a string of responses by coming up with the phrase yourself such as #Customer1stCompany, asking your followers to include it in their social media posts will help your ideas germinate across the Web at a rapid-fire rate!

Having trouble reaching out?

Unless you're already enmeshed in a social media strategy, getting the word out about your hashtag can be a tricky affair. This is when it's helpful to take a trip down memory lane. Before the digital revolution, fliers and posters were among the top go-tos for generating publicity. Whatever you could fit onto a 11-by-5-inch sheet of paper worked, and they haven't entirely gone out of style. Before you hit print this time, however, add a hashtag you're trying to promote like #Rocktoberfest2014 to the bottom of the page and ask your followers to use it. Your audience who already know how hashtags work will likely follow your instructions and everyone else will soon follow suit.

Ideas for hashtags

Think back to the last presidential election. Did you notice anything out of the ordinary? Both campaigns periodically flashed hashtags under their news headlines to help voters keep track of their goings-on. You could flip open your Twitter and do a search for #debate, for example, to see people tweeting about their favorite points, generating valuable conversation. With a successful hashtag, you can aim for similar results!

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