Using Hashtags in Social Media: A How-To Guide

Mila Araujo
Mila Araujo Director, Ogilvy Insurance

Posted on September 30th 2013

Using Hashtags in Social Media: A How-To Guide

Hashtags are used on all social networks now, becoming a critical way to communicate and link information everywhere from Pinterest to Facebook and Twitter. Hashtags are the key to discovering, communicating and sharing.

Let’s have a conversation about hashtags and demystify what they're all about and how to use them once and for all. Your business activity and personal activity will become far more efficient as a result.

The main problem with hashtags

The number one thing I hear from people when I finally get them signed up and on Twitter is, “I don’t understand everything that's going on, what is all that stuff with the # – I can’t follow what you’re talking about”.

This awesome and funny video below is a classic example of what people think about hashtags. In a word – a bunch of nonsense. It’s a mistake to underestimate or avoid hashtags because you think it is just a bunch of hipster jargon.

Hashtag explanation made easy:

Let’s face it, hashtags are throwing (business) people off. The best way I can explain a hashtag is that it is a critical way of grouping information together, almost like a file folder.

If you opened your filing cabinet and wanted to find everything about Dogs, you would click on #Dogs. But the search results might be too large. So, you might then want to create a new hashtag or find one in use that specifies the type of dog, for example #JRT , #JackRussell, or even #Puppy. The cool thing about hashtags is that you can combine them, so if you put all of the above in one tweet, or post on facebook, you will be indexed in with the related items in all three categories.

How do you use a hashtag for business?

hashtags and google plus

When you click on a hashtag on Google Plus you find all items and people related to the hashtag! Try it out!

  1. First, you need to identify where your posts or subject fits in. Chances are there is already a hashtag being used for your area of communication.
  2. Find someone who is already active in your field, and then see what hashtags they are using.
  3. If you see one you like, click on it. A new list will open in your Twitter, or Facebook or Google+ that will only include all posts with the given hashtag.
  4. Look at the other hashtags being used as well.
  5. Create a list for yourself of Hashtags that you would be a part of, and start using them.

Why are hashtags important?

The beauty of a hashtag is that it brings you into the communication lines of people you don’t know.

When you post without hashtags, you access the people you already know.

VS.Learn how to use hashtags

Benefits when you post with hashtags:

 

  • You make your information searchable by anyone
  • You appear in the stream of the hashtag in question
  • You meet new people
  • You find new resources
  • You discover new opportunities
  • You help people keep track of your relevant posts

    hashtags

  • Build an audience and community

 

Cut through the clutter

Hashtags also help people sort through a series of posts to zoom in on what is important to them. For example, if you go to my instagram page, you will find photos of Soccer, food, scenery, business. Let’s say you only care about pictures of my puppy. Well, you’ll click on the custom hashtag and you will just see the results from the photos I tagged with my custom hashtag. Custom hashtags make it easy for people to get through all the junk out there. Whether it be on one page, or throughout the social networks.social media hashtags

In business for example, I  can create a hashtag for insurance, but what will make it easier for people looking to save money on home insurance is if tag a series of posts #Home #Insurance #savings or #homesavings combined with #insurance. Starting to see the possibilities?

hashtags and conversation

Building conversation and linking similar topics or items of interest together with a hashtag.

Number one rule for hashtags & brands: Be consistent.

Sometimes you can use a hashtag, and then no one else uses it. So you can get discouraged and think, I won’t use this anymore. Don’t do that. If your hashtag is well thought out, and you want it to stick keep using it. Everything takes time. Be patient, keep posting items with your hashtag.

Introduce others to your hashtag by sharing their posts using your hashtag.

For example, lets say you find an article that is hashtagged and it is in an area that your own readers (or prospective readers) would find interesting

  1. Share the post keeping the original hashhtags and originators identity (dont delete the source – thats poor etiquette) – In the example below the source is @GingerConsult and the Source hashtag is #BeALeader
  2. Add on your hashtags.

People who find the article interesting in the original group (in the example below: BeALeader) may also notice the additional hashtags added, and click through to see what’s goign on there. They may not check out the other hashtags at first, but eventually if they see the hashtags often enough they will investigate. If they like what they find, or want to contribute to those “files” if we can still continue to relate to my file cabinet example above, then they may adopt the hashtags. Don’t give up, be consistent, share the hashtag with valuable and relevent information and people will start to join you in your “Hashtag community”

Hashtags to access and participate in chats and communitiesadvertising and hashtags

Once you start to understand hashtags and how clicking on a hashtag can bring you to a series of related articles, you will also be able to click through and join in conversation about the articles or other topics. Many organizations and communities are using hashtags to have live conversations, Q&A periods or even consistant 24 chat on a subject. Usually the organization or group will have their own hashtag. Some conversations are scheduled weekly at the same time, and others happen around the clock. Check out this article here for more info on tweet chats.

Using hashtags for fun and nonsense may be good for business

In the screen shot here, you see how David’s Tea started a conversation hashtagging a picture with #Teapotblowing resulting conversation and other items become linked as others participate. The top post is the last one, where I also link in a new app called Definer, which is also really cool, where you can define new words and phrases, as you want to.

I linked them into it using a hashtag, while still maintaining the original hashtag – expanding the potential reach of the original idea and bringing more people into the conversation. In this same picture you see how another user hashtagged their entry for a teapotblowing contest. Suddenly David’s Tea takes their own personalized hashtag and turns it into a movement. If a hashtag is interesting it will generate activity and perhaps a following and new community. build community with hashtags

Hashtags look funny but they have strong business value.

Next time you see a hashtag, I hope that having read this article helps take the oddity of it all and makes you realize that there is great opportunity for learning, connecting and reaching new people and communities. The hashtag is pretty cool. What do you think?

How are you using hashtags?

Do you think you are ready to give them a try?

The post Using Hashtags in Social Media is Good for Your Business : A How To Guide appeared first on Perspectives.

Mila Araujo

Mila Araujo

Director, Ogilvy Insurance

Mila Araujo is a Social Business Strategist, Speaker and Director at a financial services firm in Montreal, Quebec. Mila has a diverse background in management, public relations, non-profit, and events. In her previous roles, Mila organized international conferences on health care, as well as programs to promote health for seniors and children in partnership with the Government of Canada. In 2009, she worked with Modica Communications on the development of the Centre for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility, part of the Canadian government's Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. Mila is a contributing author for several online sites, including “12 Most”, Business2Community, “Winning at the Insurance Gamble”, "Grow" and  her own blog "Perspectives". Mila’s lived in Los Angeles, Paris, and Hawaii, and calls Montreal home. Mila is an active member of the social media community and is the Producer of #140 Conference Montreal ( #140MTL).

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Comments

juliedawn_
Posted on October 2nd 2013 at 7:35AM

Thanks for the article. I do usually use hashtags to express emotion like #excited #fun #happy. And I use hashtags (#) in my tweets relating to a specific group and etc,.

Francoise
Posted on October 4th 2013 at 1:57PM

Love hashtags!  They keep me sane. There is so much content out on the social media platforms and #'s are so useful in filtering conversations that apply to my interests. Thanks for sharing!  #SmallBiz

Stacie Walker
Posted on October 8th 2013 at 5:08AM

Hi Mila,

Excellent article on the proper use of hashtags. Yes, they are extremely valuable for businesses. Keep up the awesome content!

To Your Success,

Stacie Walker

Woman in Leadership Founder