Hashtags are an essential tool for small businesses using Social Media, particularly on Twitter and Instagram.
To literally explain what a hashtag is (just in case), it’s a keyword or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), which can be used to highlight your message or picture to other users.
For small or new businesses in particular, who are looking to build their customer base, hashtags provide a great opportunity to reach people who are looking for something specific.
Let’s say, for example, that you own a small fashion brand and want to tell the world about a new floral dress you’ve added to your collection.
If you just put the picture up with no hashtags in the caption, you’re limited to just your followers seeing it. However, if you add a hashtag like #FloralDress to your post, all of the people scrolling through pictures which contain the #FloralDress hashtag will see it too.
Simple, right? Describing what is in the picture is definitely the most effective and efficient way of reaching the people looking for what you’re offering.
If you wanted to broaden your reach, you could generalise and add some more hashtags like #dress or #floralclothing too.
You may also want to reach fashion journalists and bloggers to get some PR from your post about the new item you’re launching – in which case, you could add #FashionNews or #FashionBloggers to try to reach them.
It’s basically about getting into the mindset of the people you want to target, and adding relevant hashtags that will get your post into their feed so they’ll see it when they’re scrolling.
Twitter is a completely different ball game as you can’t just go #crazy on the #hastags at the end of your post like you can on Instagram as you only have 140 characters to get to the point, so you have to be a bit more savvy and subtle with the hashtag placement. It just looks spammy if every other word in the post is a hashtag – two or three is more than enough.
So, using the above example of the floral dress. You could tweet something along the lines of:
We’ve added this brand new #FloralDress to our #SummerCollection – have a closer look here: <then add a link to where they can buy it>.
The best thing about Twitter is that it tells you which hashtags are currently trending (being used most at the time you’re looking), so you can piggy-back on to them (again, only when relevant – nobody likes a spammer).
So, if one of the trending hashtags was #sunny, for example, you could then post a picture of the dress and incorporate the trending hashtag into your caption, along the lines of:
It’s finally #sunny, which can only mean one thing – #FloralDress time! This one is brand new: <link to the product on your website>
You could even add #fashion to the end of the tweet if you wanted, just to cover off anyone looking at posts relating to fashion as well as #sunny (the popular, general hashtag), and the very relevant #FloralDress one.
Hope that explains the basics and provides some guidance on how to use hashtags. I’ll be writing another post to provide some more tips on how small businesses can make the most of Instagram and Twitter soon, so watch this space or subscribe to my newsletter here.