What’s a “#” in Social Media?

Twitter HashtagsmailFor those who aren’t well versed in social media or are new to the concept of social media marketing, the symbol “#“ is a pound sign, used on the phone to submit a pin or password on a conference call. What if I told you that simple pound sign within your social media content is a doorway to putting your company into conversations with people all over the world?

The “#” is called a hash tag. There are numerous reasons why marketers use hashtags in their social media content strategy and encourage their followers to do so – we will touch on a few of the most common uses.

Many times, brands use hashtags on social media to proactively to track what people are saying about their products or services and give people a way to be apart of a conversation regarding their brand. To provide examples, I will give you some theoretical tweets from a make-believe company “Joe’s Donut Shop.”

Tweet (post on Twitter) from a theoretical person: “I had the best experience at #JoesDonuts today! Get the chocolate glazed donut!”

Facebook post from a theoretical person: “I love waking up and getting some #JoesDonuts with my family.”

Companies can encourage their customers to use the social media hashtag to talk about the brand and its products or services, such as #JoesDonuts. When you go to Twitter, Facebook or Google+ and other channels, you can search the hashtag and see what people around the world are saying while using the same hashtag in their content.

Another tactic on social media with hashtags relates to conversations about a general topic. For example, if your company is running a World Cup promotion, you can use #WorldCup2014 in your tweets. When you search for #WorldCup2014, there will be people talking about the games, the players, the companies involved and even the host country of Brazil. But, if you have relevant content to contribute to the conversation, someone that you may not have expected to reach may see your tweet and become a prospective customer, all because of the use of a hashtag within your content.

Tweet from @JoesDonuts: “We’re excited to offer a #WorldCup2014 promotion at #JoesDonuts, free one dozen donut holes to every customer the day of a @USSoccer game!”

While it may seem farfetched for the sake of a theoretical example, imagine the impact for national brands or companies with websites. Promoting a discount code or special could spark someone’s interest on the other side of the world and affect your bottom line. It doesn’t have to be a major event, it can be something as small as a concert in your small town and a happy hour promotion you are running via social media content to attract business.

Other examples of how you can use hashtags in your social media marketing content strategy is for promotions, question and answer sessions with your company’s CEO or the unveiling of a new product or service. Because they aren’t limited to a specific social media channel, you can track complete digital conversations throughout the world across a wide variety of demographics. Don’t be afraid of the unknown with hashtags, jump right in and get your brand out into the world’s conversation!

Brainstorm some creative aspects of your brand or product or noteworthy experiences that would be interesting and relevant for followers on your social media channels.