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How to hashtag effectively for your business

‘Hashtagging’ is taking the social media world by storm and is a form of a metadata tag. It all started in 2006 when Twitter was launched. Since then, social media such as Facebook and Instagram, have jumped on the tagging band wagon. It’s important to get hashtagging right, as it’s a very effective way of driving potential new customers to your company’s social media channels, and to also retain relationships with existing customers. The ultimate aim of social media for business is to firstly engage, then try and drive them to your site, where you can then hopefully turn the lead into a sale.

Hashtags works by grouping messages together under the same ‘hashtag’. Users can then search for the hashtag online and see what shows up. Hashtags are used on Twitter to formulate ‘what’s trending’.
In reality, any business, in any industry can use the same set of rules with hashtagging.
Here are some of the ways to improve your reach/followers with hashtagging;
1. Plan a schedule of what popular events are coming up For example, x-Factor or the World Cup. Find out what the hashtag is and engage with users, this is an opportunity to be amusing and light-hearted, but don’t take it too far.
2. Realise that Twitter user activity comes in peaks and troughs. Generally, between 6pm-10pm is when social media sees the most amount of traffic. Post questions and use a hashtag at that time of day to achieve maximum results. If you can’t keep up, you could use a service such as Hoot Suite to post on your behalf and you schedule the tweets to suit you.
3. Remember that it’s social media, not selling media. As mentioned in point one, there are an abundance of real-time events to speak about. If you try and hashtag with the purpose of cold/hard selling, then you may want to think again.
4. Create your own hashtags, and then try to get a lot of users using the hashtag. An obvious way to generate a flow of traffic on a hashtag is to offer an incentive, for example, ‘Think of a name for our new company mascot’, then use a hashtag #NameOurTeddy
5. Lastly, don’t forget to check what people are hashtagging to the company itself and respond to your customers to make them feel acknowledged. People may hashtag various different things to your company, so make sure to keep a sharp eye out.

Some of the most common mistakes with ‘hashtagging’ to avoid are:
1. Using a space in between words – this will not work. This is correct – #DavidCameron this isn’t – #David Cameron
2. Thinking you only should engage with content in your own industry. If your business is a construction company, there is no reason why you can’t get involved in the hashtag conversation for the x-Factor.
3. Over-hashtagging words – by this I mean a tweet such as: “What a #great day at the #office lots of #new #clients to come. #Happy
4. Using the @ in the wrong place, combined with a hashtag. As mentioned, if you put @ as the first word in a tweet, you’re severely limiting your reach. You want your hashtag to be visible

It’s so important to remember when using Twitter, that if you are trying to mention somebody, with the @ facility, you have to try and built a tweet that allows you to start the sentence and then add the @ in. If you type in “@GiraffeSM has some great content.” – only you and the recipient will see the tweet, whereas, if you tweet: “I’m so impressed with @GiraffeSM content – check it out”, then all of your followers will be able to see the tweet.
It’s important to remember that a hashtag alone won’t make your social media channel fool proof, but it’s a ridiculously easy way to get more engagement with your users. Just to back up a previous point, ‘IT’S SOCIAL MEDIA, NOT SALES MEDIA’ – Sales will naturally come with effective social media engagement, you don’t need to be an aggressive seller on social media, it puts people off.
It will be very difficult for a company to get something trending, as it tends to only be users with huge activity that can do this, but hashtagging is imperative, as people can still find content that you want to be grouped together for your company. As mentioned, if you engage on other hashtags that have nothing to do with your business, you’ll be visible to new potential customers as well. Keep calm and carry on hashtagging!

By Content Assistant –  David Edward Rose – @davidrose88

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