On August 26, 2007 Stowe Boyd labeled the hashtag a "way to help make sense of the noise within Twitter" and changed the way we think of and use the small symbol that has appeared on telephones and napkins for decades.
Twitter revolutionized the way we view these four familiar little lines, and once the hashtag is understood, it can be the a powerful business tool on the web. Hashtags can do wonders for social interaction, feedback and event engagement. Give these six tips a test-run at your next event or conference and see why a well-thought out hashtag can be your business’ trusty sidekick.
1. Measure Campaign Activity
To determine if a marketing campaign is successful or not you need to be able to track measurement, and hashtags add an extra layer to the analytics. A hashtag you use must be distinguished enough so that a company can easily see how many people interacted with it, but specific enough to communicate the idea to those seeing it for the first time.
Let's look at an example:
#WebDesign is descriptive from a topic perspective.
If you are communicating something on this topic and want to engage with people searching for related content this is specific enough. If you are writing a blog post or eBook attach this hashtag when you are socializing the content.
#BetterWebsitesByDesign is descriptive from a specific topic/event/piece of content perspective.
This is a hash tag we used during a recent @DUO event we hosted. We live tweeted during the event and used this hashtag to distribute content specific to the event. The more specific a hashtag the easier it is to communicate with a very narrow community.
2. Mid-Event Monitoring
Events are often a primary part of a marketing campaign and are ideal for generating a descriptive hashtag (see example above). Encouraging attendees to tweet the designated hashtag throughout an event allows for real-time feedback on a speech, panel, atmosphere and even the refreshments. Professionals are eager to share what they’ve learned at a conference or meet-up and are quick to tweet about it. Adding a hashtag option to these nuggets of wisdom can work to accomplish two goals.
First, it provides assurance that a specific aspect of the event resonated with that person enough to make them want to share it with all of their followers. Organizers can instantly see if that person was pleased, or disappointed, with what occurred.
Second, it opens up the opportunity for other event-goers (or even those not at the event) to take something away and communicate it. Social proof begins to take place if even a single person shares a quote or lesson.
3. Supplement Event Surveys
In addition to providing immediate feedback, hashtags can aid in gathering post-event feedback. Shortly after the event concludes, request feedback with a hashtag. Asking attendees immediately after it’s over can provide the most thorough feedback because it’s fresh in the visitor’s mind. Use online feedback in conjunction with a normal event survey to get the best possible feel for how successful (or unsuccessful) the event was.
Note: Post-event feedback tweets should not stray too long after its conclusion. Anything beyond 24 hours may be too late and result in lower (or no) responses.
4. Address Concerns and Questions
Create a hashtag specifically for comments, concerns or questions that can be used before the event takes place. Rather than relying on traditional methods of phoning or emailing a company to get an answer, create a hashtag and encourage event registrants to engage on social channels. Utilizing the hashtag can improve user experience and may yield higher interaction rates. Why?
It’s not invasive and can be accomplished in seconds.
A social media user can scroll through hours of information, so it’s important to freely offer opportunities to interact without interrupting. Create a hashtag and place it in the event description space so users can quickly respond without leaving what they’re doing. Something as simple as #AskMyCompany is sufficient enough to track.
5. Get Followers Involved
Porter Airlines brilliantly engages its followers on Twitter with hashtags like #TravelConfessions. The airline knows that traveling and the experiences people have traveling creates content and stories. The use of the hashtag drives engagement and encourages their customers and followers to share a story or two of their own.
Hashtag creation is not always used for followers to interact with the company, sometimes interacting with each other is wildly successful for a company. The National Hockey League hosted its annual Heritage Classic in March, one of six similar events for the league. It provided the hashtag #HeritageClassic so fans could interact with each other before, during and after the event.
Both Porter Airlines and the NHL had to know their audience to make these hashtags effective. Before any hashtag was tweeted, thoughtful consideration was put into what may (and may not) entice followers to engage.
6. Exposure to Those with Similar Interests
Every business should be sure to share relevant and interesting content with its followers on the web, so create a hashtag to go with it. Perhaps a business specializes in public relations, an industry with massive social interaction and professional connecting. Even a simple topic-focused hashtag like #PR is enough to communicate to users that this company is sharing resources for PR professionals.
Each hashtag provides the opportunity for that company to be exposed to anyone searching those tags. While it may feel generic, some users may be at the beginning of the buying cycle and find that generic search terms suit their needs.
For something so small, the hashtag sure can make a huge impact on a company’s communication. A well-executed hashtag can stimulate buzz and ultimately bring more leads and customers to your business.
Does your company use hashtags? If so, do you have more than one hashtag for more than one purpose?
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