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social media how toDo you include hashtags in your social media posts?

Want more traction from your hashtag campaigns?

Adding hashtags to your campaigns can drive engagement with fans and followers, as well as attract new and prospective customers.

In this article I’ll share four ways to improve reach and engagement with hashtags.

Why Hashtags Matter

Since social media is social, it’s important to participate in conversations on a variety of topics.

improve engagement with hashtags

Discover four ways to improve engagement with hashtags.

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However, the virtual world does not give us body language cues, and it may be difficult to keep track of everything that’s going on. This is especially important when it comes to interacting with hundreds or even thousands of people on social media. Instead of pleasant and engaging conversation, all you hear is noise.

Hashtags help cut through all the noise. They connect your business with your audience and put it at the heart of conversations on social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Facebook.

#1: Align Hashtags With Your Brand

Use a hashtag that aligns with your brand to reinforce the message your social, digital and traditional marketing send to your customers.

Kit-Kat, the company behind the popular chocolate snack, does this particularly well. They use the hashtag #mybreak, which is in concert with their wider branding message, “Have a break, have a Kit-Kat.”

kitkat tweet

Kit-Kat’s #mybreak hashtag goes with the company’s branding.

Kit-Kat’s social media team reinforces the use of #mybreak. They favorite and retweet the social media posts of customers who use the hashtag.

kitkat customer tweet

Kit-Kat customers have embraced the #mybreak hashtag. Their social team favorites and retweets those who use it.

This engagement not only helps develop the relationship between Kit-Kat and their customers, but also more broadly extends the reach of the hashtag and Kit-Kat’s branding.

#2: Choose Hashtags Carefully

In social media and in life, there’s always the chance things won’t work out exactly as planned. Your hashtag could possibly be hijacked, either by another brand or by activists with an axe to grind.

Kit-Kat’s #mybreak hashtag is unlikely to get hijacked. It’s on-brand, and there’s not a lot of online activism aimed at chocolate-wrapped wafers.

When airline Qantas launched the hashtag #QantasLuxury, they hoped their business and first-class flyers would post about their dream luxury experience. Instead, the hashtag was hijacked by the far larger group of disgruntled Qantas passengers who fly economy class.

qantas hashtag response

While Qantas airlines intended their business- and first-class customers to reply to the #QantasLuxury hashtag, economy passengers used it to tweet complaints instead.

Give each hashtag strong consideration before deploying it in a tweet or a post. Reflect with your team and colleagues, and ask advice from friends active on social networks about potential hashtags.

While you can consider best-case scenarios (like Qantas envisioned), also be sure to consider potential worst-case situations. Choose a hashtag with the least risk of hijacking, so you can avoid a potential social media crisis.

#3: Take Your Hashtag Offline

Don’t limit your business hashtags to only social media. It’s important to use them as part of a wider branding strategy that includes offline and traditional media.

For Coca-Cola’s 2015 Super Bowl campaign, the company launched the related hashtag #MakeItHappy. The hashtag populated the company’s social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Plus, it appeared in television and print advertising, as well as in earned media online.

coca-cola hashtag billboard

Just as Coca-Cola did, incorporate hashtags in print and commercial marketing, as well as in social media campaigns.

Increase traction for your hashtag by using it away from your social networks.

Small businesses can make it easy for their customers to share positive reviews and social comments about their experiences by encouraging the use of a hashtag.

If you have a brick-and-mortar location, make sure your hashtag is displayed prominently near the point of sale, on your promotional flyers, print ads and every receipt. Online businesses should create clickable hashtags, encourage visitors toclick to tweettext including the hashtag and prominently display the hashtag on the company home page.

Whether it’s a physical or a digital business, the advice is the same. To gain hashtag traction and develop your brand, take your hashtag offline (or at least off of your social networks and onto your website). It can have real benefits for your business.

#4: Introduce Variety With Hashtags

While your brand or business name might not change, if you want to remain effective and relevant, the hashtags you use in your business must.

Social media conversations happen in real time, and what’s trending today is likely to be forgotten tomorrow. While having a consistent hashtag for your business is a way to keep continuity in your branding, it’s also important to assess and refresh your hashtags on a regular basis to maintain the interest of your followers.

IKEA USA’s Twitter feed is a great example of how to keep the hashtag balance. Some of the account’s hashtags are standard company branding, such as #IKEA and #IKEAFamily. These help the company engage with followers about core brand issues.

ikeausa ikeafamily tweet

IKEA reuses certain hashtags, like #IKEAFAMILY, for branding and consistency.

In addition, tweets using the hashtag #IKEACatalog speak directly to the company’s famous annual catalog.

ikeausa ikeacatalog tweet

IKEA uses the #IKEACatalog hashtag to call attention to tweets referencing it.

However, IKEA USA mixes things up with a range of other hashtags to keep their social conversations fresh and interesting.

The IKEA USA Twitter feed regularly uses the hashtags #creative, #organized and #DIY to help connect their products with their audience. The company also uses temporal hashtags like #MotivationMonday, and gets involved in trending topics like #NationalEmojiDay and #NationalIceCreamDay.

ikeausa motivationmonday tweet

IKEA also uses trending and timely hashtags, such as #MotivationMonday, to increase visibility and connect with their audience.

The key is balance. Keep some core hashtags that don’t change to maintain your brand’s continuity. Plus, regularly incorporate new hashtags into your marketing campaigns to keep things fresh and stay on top of trending topics.

Conclusion

Hashtags are more than just markers for your tweets or a way to join a wider conversation. They’re identifiers for your company branding that help you cut through the noise, curate conversations and engage your followers.

What do you think? Do you use hashtags in your marketing? What campaigns have been more successful? Share your experience and thoughts in the comments.

how to improve engagement with hashtags

Four tips for improving engagement with hashtags.

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  • Karun Bholewasi

    Please let me know why people can’t tag my page in their posts

  • Karun Bholewasi

    Please let me know why people can’t tag my page in their posts

  • David Jackson

    Maybe they haven’t liked your page?

  • David Jackson

    Maybe they haven’t liked your page?

  • David Jackson

    That’s some great insight Dylan! Definitely got some points there to take into consideration.

  • David Jackson

    That’s some great insight Dylan! Definitely got some points there to take into consideration.

  • Thanks, David. 🙂

  • Thanks, David. 🙂

  • It’s important not to confuse tagging a person or page with hashtags. The former will send a notification to the user or page owner that they’ve been mentioned, while a hashtag may go unnoticed unless it is being actively tracked.

  • It’s important not to confuse tagging a person or page with hashtags. The former will send a notification to the user or page owner that they’ve been mentioned, while a hashtag may go unnoticed unless it is being actively tracked.

  • You’re right, David – this could also be a reason the tagging doesn’t work as expected.

  • You’re right, David – this could also be a reason the tagging doesn’t work as expected.

  • I’m quite surprised that this post got 1,300 shares on Twitter. What is new and useful here? This is beginner stuff, kiddie table fare. Challenge me.

    Oh well, I guess we know from Kevan Lee’s October 1 Buffer Social post that 500,000 of the 1 million tweets he analyzed had no hashtags.

    Guess a lot of people are clueless about this.

  • Thank you for posting this great article Dylan! Taken some pointers on using hashtags. Hashtags on social media really help boost your audiences and a big help when promoting your business.

  • Thank you for posting this great article Dylan! Taken some pointers on using hashtags. Hashtags on social media really help boost your audiences and a big help when promoting your business.

  • Gail Kraker

    Someone here complained about this being beginner stuff. For me it’s just the opposite. I really don’t understand the basics of using hashtags. What exactly do they do for us or our customers? I wish someone would explain it all for hashtag dummies.

  • Gail Kraker

    Someone here complained about this being beginner stuff. For me it’s just the opposite. I really don’t understand the basics of using hashtags. What exactly do they do for us or our customers? I wish someone would explain it all for hashtag dummies.

  • Karun Bholewasi

    They liked but can’t tag my page.

  • Karun Bholewasi

    They liked but can’t tag my page.

  • What’s the consensus on using hashtags on Pinterest? They seemed more relevant in the past, but less so now that Pinterest’s search tool has become more robust. I’m curious what others think.

  • What’s the consensus on using hashtags on Pinterest? They seemed more relevant in the past, but less so now that Pinterest’s search tool has become more robust. I’m curious what others think.

  • You know the old saying: “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.” Even with the most basic concepts, it’s good to hear perspectives from different experts. You never know what kernel of information you might find.

  • You know the old saying: “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.” Even with the most basic concepts, it’s good to hear perspectives from different experts. You never know what kernel of information you might find.

  • I think there is still value to using hashtags on Pinterest, in particular for brands that are seeking to keep all of their social networks on the same page. A cross-network effort (say Twitter + Facebook + Pinterest + Instagram) with a common hashtag can work well.

  • I think there is still value to using hashtags on Pinterest, in particular for brands that are seeking to keep all of their social networks on the same page. A cross-network effort (say Twitter + Facebook + Pinterest + Instagram) with a common hashtag can work well.

  • Anne Medlin

    What a shitty reply about newbs,are you a newb,because if your not and have this knowledge,why are you reading this Mr Rude and Arrogant.This is why others get such misinformation,Dylan is helping the people who are needing to know this,so just shut up or go hang up Mike Filsaimes ass if your so talented,let us learn in peace! BTW,sorry Mike,just pointing a fact,no offence:) Thanks Dylan.

  • Thanks for this helpful post Dylan. I use a hashtags for my business but I see now from the examples how I can be more creative – and hadn’t considered using them on Pinterest but I’ll do some experimenting.

  • Thanks for this helpful post Dylan. I use a hashtags for my business but I see now from the examples how I can be more creative – and hadn’t considered using them on Pinterest but I’ll do some experimenting.

  • I’m glad it was helpful, Marquita. Experimentation is sometimes the best way to go with social media as the ‘absolute best’ option doesn’t always present itself. Trying different things, analyzing the results, and re-testing is a good way to determine if your strategy is working.

  • I’m glad it was helpful, Marquita. Experimentation is sometimes the best way to go with social media as the ‘absolute best’ option doesn’t always present itself. Trying different things, analyzing the results, and re-testing is a good way to determine if your strategy is working.

  • Victoria Danielli

    Dylan, thanks for sharing this.

    I’ve always loved stories with real case studies. They’re insightful, easy to read and understand — just what I needed on Friday 🙂

    Frankly, I was always skeptical about the hashtags. Now I see a couple of ways to create different groups around my key phrases. So that’s some kind of segmentation, which can lead to personalization!

    Anyway, thanks for the cases, which have given me several cool ideas.

    P.S. It’s funny to read how HUGE brands (e.g. coca-cola, ikea, etc) adopt trends introduced by other companies.

  • Victoria Danielli

    Dylan, thanks for sharing this.

    I’ve always loved stories with real case studies. They’re insightful, easy to read and understand — just what I needed on Friday 🙂

    Frankly, I was always skeptical about the hashtags. Now I see a couple of ways to create different groups around my key phrases. So that’s some kind of segmentation, which can lead to personalization!

    Anyway, thanks for the cases, which have given me several cool ideas.

    P.S. It’s funny to read how HUGE brands (e.g. coca-cola, ikea, etc) adopt trends introduced by other companies.

  • You can get angry, but it’s not going to make this advice any more relevant for me or the countless others that already know this stuff.

    This article helps me not at all. I’ll expect better from this author and this site in the future. If they don’t want to deliver it I’ll look to their competitors.

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  • treb072410

    Great post Dylan.. Thanks for sharing!

  • Grace Duffy

    Absolutely no dumb questions here 🙂 Here are some early post on the basics of using hashtags. Hopefully this helps!
    http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/hashtags/
    http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/six-tips-killer-hashtag-campaign/

  • Gail Kraker

    Oh – thanks so much Grace! That will be a huge help!

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  • Great blog! Dylan. I believe that hashtags will greatly expose your brand to potential customers on those social media platforms who weren’t familiar with your page. I had a lot of success by posting blogs with general hashtags that I know people are following when the content is relevant.

  • Hi guys,

    Can you please explain how using hashtags actually works. My husband refuses to believe there is any value to them and I would LOVE to explain it (prove him wrong) to him, so he will start implementing them for his business.

    Cheers.

    Great post by the way. Love your work.

    Robyn Williams.

  • Hi Robyn,

    Maybe one way to explain it to him is to ask him to think of hashtags as a way to cut through the noise of social media. If Twitter is 300 million people sharing their thoughts on all manner of things, hashtags allow your to filter all of that until you have just the things that interest you. Searching Twitter for the hashtag #starbucks, for example, will allow you to view only the tweets with that hashtag – essentially cutting out all the non-Starbucks related noise. For a consumer, this is valuable as you can search the entire Twitter universe (or Instagram, or elsewhere) for that one specific tag and find relevant tweets.

    For a business, using hashtags means you can be a part of these filtered conversations. While the people who already follow you will get all of your tweets, the people who search for or follow specific hashtags can also see the ones that you have tagged with the appropriate hashtag. If your business chooses the hashtag effectively, you can reach a new audience that is keen to FIND businesses like yours, as well as the people who already know about your business.

    In the end, you won’t be spending any more time crafting your tweets, nor expending any more energy and resources – save of course for determining what sort of tags are going to work best for your business.

  • Thank you that worked. 🙂

  • Taking hashtags offline can be very useful. I love to see hashtags on t-shirts, posters, banners, but also on cups, hats… Those small details will help you expand your marketing and reach audience who’s not originally following your business on social media.