How Hashtags Can Help Your Small Business

Marketing your small business online requires a solid social media strategy, and part of a successful social media strategy must include a Twitter account.

While there are many different varieties of social media, Twitter is a must for any small business. The sheer number of Twitter accounts means that a small business can acquire a potential barrelful of followers. And through hashtags, a small business can go from a few hundred followers to reaching millions via the viral aspect of Twitter hashtags.

What is a Hashtag?

A hashtag is like a keyword. On Twitter, a keyword can be found by using the hashtag mark “#” in front of the word. For instance, if you were writing about eco-friendly marketing strategies and wanted the keyword “Green Marketing”, simply create it in hashtag form, #GreenMarketing. This makes the keyword searchable topic on Twitter and can be found and read by potentially millions of Twitter searchers.

How does a small business utilize hashtags in a Twitter social media strategy? Here are a few tips:

Keep up with Hashtag Trends

It is important to know what hashtags are trending on Twitter. Before you can make good use of a potential hashtag, you must know if it is a popular topic.

However, since Twitter is a giant worldwide database of hashtags, how do you know what is trending at any given time, or even if a certain keyword is of interest? Luckily, there are 3rd party websites that are aimed at providing hashtag data. Here are a few of the more popular ones.

  • WhatTheTrend.com – Here you’ll find data on what hashtags are trending right now on Twitter.
  • Hashtags.org – This site can give you categorized list of trending hashtag topics.
  • Twubs.com – This helps people connect on certain aggregated popular topics.
  • Tagal.us – This resource can help define vague or other hashtag phrases.

Choose Strategic Hashtags for Your Niche Products/Services

With your hashtag intel, you have the tools to choose the trending words and phrases that work with your products. However, you should avoid using general hashtags. Consider the strategy of avoiding utilizing general and overused keywords on your website. Search engines find too many other websites with general keywords, and your search results get lost in the millions of results.

Much like an SEO website strategy, choose hashtags that are relevant to your business, but are not so general that it would be futile to try and compete against larger and more prominent tweeters.

Create Your Own Hashtags

Why not create your own hashtags? You use hashtags to build your company’s reputation on Twitter and establish trends of your own. To decide on a hashtag, you must consider something that is memorable. Remember to keep it short. Phrases are usable, but only if they are short enough to include with a 140 character tweet.

With your hashtag chosen, start using it. Promote it frequently, and encourage your followers to use your hashtag and re-tweet as well. You could even encourage followers to use your hashtag to win a random contest for a gift certificate.

Respond To Your Hashtags

Don’t make the mistake of starting a hashtag trend and ignoring it. Be sure you monitor your hashtag retweets and usage. Make use of the hashtag trending site mentioned above. A favorable response to others can help keep followers loyal and add new ones to your roster.

Hashtag At Conferences and Events

Keep your Twitter followers abreast of where you are right now and why it’s important. For instance, if you are a small brewpub owner and are at a local ale festival in Portland, you might post frequent tweets with the hashtag #Portlandalefestival.

Or similarly, if you are at a popular conference show, you can demonstrate your presence. A popular trending event may be the #ConsumerElectronicsShow, or just #CES to fit a 140 character tweet.

The proper use of hashtags on Twitter can be beneficial to your small business. The viral aspect of hastags could even get your small business known around the world. But be sure you choose them wisely and use them sparingly.