by Grace Barone
The pound sign, the tic-tac-toe symbol, the octothorpe. What is this symbol really used for? Hashtags are the secret sauce of social media. They can help small businesses increase their reach and attract new customers online. But with so many hashtags out there, it can be tough to know which ones to use. In this blog, we'll explain the ins and outs of using hashtags and share some of the best hashtags for small businesses.
What are Hashtags?
Unless you're a millennial or gen z, you probably aren't quite sure how hashtags work. They seem like these mythical objects that have to be on a social media post. But using hashtags wrong can be #cringe. Hashtags are used to group relevant topics together and make them easier to find. They also help to connect social media content to a specific topic, event, theme or conversation.
The first time the pound symbol was used as a "hashtag" was on Twitter in 2007. A web marketing specialist suggested using the symbol as a way to group relevant tweets together. The idea of hashtags took off and showed to be incredibly useful for grouping relevant posts.
How to use Hashtags
Next, you need to be aware of some of the basic tips and tricks of using hashtags on your posts. People sometimes don't utilize hashtags correctly when they're first starting to use them. This leads to confusion and frustration as to why they aren't seeing results. The most important rule to follow is making sure the hashtags are relevant to your post. On almost every social media platform you can see what hashtags are trending. The trending hashtags are the topics that are getting the most attention at that time. Many people make the mistake of using these trending topics in hopes to get more exposure. This is not a good strategy.
If #tacotuesday is trending and getting a lot of attention, and you post something about your jewelry shop that has nothing to do with taco Tuesday, your post is not going to get the attention that you're hoping for. The reason for this is, if people are scrolling through the posts connected with a certain hashtag and see something that isn't relevant, they will scroll right past it. Here are some other things to note while picking hashtags;
They always start with # but will not work if there are spaces, any punctuation or other symbols. An example of a hashtag that will not work is something like, #Best Burger Restaurant! "Best" would be the only word that gets connected with the hashtag if there are spaces like this.
Your social media profile must be public. Instagram and Twitter have the option of having a private account. With a private account, only the people that you allow to follow you can see your posts. If you're trying to use hashtags to get more followers or more exposure, you must have a public account. Otherwise, the hashtagged content will not be seen by any non-followers.
You should try and stick to one to two word hashtags. You don't really want to be stringing together 5 or 6 words. Doing that becomes hard to read, they should me short and easy to remember. For example, #locallysourcedhoneyfromrealbees is very hard to read. Instead, try breaking it up #locallysorced #honey #bees. This way you're hitting multiple relevant hashtags, this will maximize your reach. Make sure the hashtags are unique to your business but not too obscure. Those will be hard to find and most likely not be used by other social media users. If there is a hashtag that has more than one word and each word is fairly long, try capitalizing the first letter of each word. #NationalReasturantAssociation is a good example of this.
Amount of Tags
You want to walk the line of having enough hashtags, but not too many. You want to tag all the relevant topics of your post, but not too many to where it looks spammy. As an example, say you own a flower shop. Mothers Day is coming up and the weather is getting nice. You post a picture of a Mothers Day flower arrangement. You'd want to use the hashtags #spring #MothersDay #giftideas #flowers. This hits, the current season, a well known event (Mothers Day), a common search (gift ideas), and your businesses specialty (flowers).
Use Local Hashtags
If you're a small business, you're going to want to use location based hashtags to increase community engagement. Even if your business has multiple locations, they're probably all in one state. If you're looking to market your products on social media you want people that are near your location to see your posts. To do this, you'll want to throw in your location with the hashtags. If you're a restaurant located in Chicago using something like #ChicagoResturants or #ILsmallbusiness is a great idea.
Why Hashtags for Small Businesses are Important
Hashtags can easily be used for almost anything and are a terrific way to find others who share your interests. For instance, if you run a small business, you might utilize hashtags to advertise your goods and services. Additionally, hashtags can be used to spark a discussion or bring attention to a subject. Using hashtags is a terrific method to stay current on news and trends. By using hashtags, you also;
- Increase engagement with your followers
- Build brand awareness with branded hashtags
- Show support for social issues
- Add context to a social media post
- Help your target audience find you
If you want to learn more about how hashtags can help your small business grow on social media, here's a great blog about it.
Branded hashtags are a good idea if you promote it within your business. If you want to create a hashtag with your business name in it, you want to make sure people know about it. The reason for this is, a person that doesn't know about your business will not be looking for your branded hashtag. Once your business is established with loyal customers, then your branded hashtag will be more successful.
Here is a list of hashtags that are beneficial to small businesses social media posts:
Hashtags for Small Businesses
Using Hashtags on your Small Businesses Social Media
Hashtags are a wonderful addition to your businesses social media posts. They can help your social media post grow much quicker than just continually posting with the hopes of reaching more potential customers. If you're looking for more ways to grow your business and gain more customers, visit getvms.com. If you're already a merchant with VMS be sure to tag us and use #getvms.