Anyone who is a pop culture enthusiast or an avid fan of scrolling through YouTube videos has probably seen Justin Timberlake’s sketch on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show satirizing the overuse of hashtags. Yes. Hashtags, when used frivolously can be a major annoyance. Exhibit A: Raise your hand if any of you have ever come across an Instagram post that included the following:
#girl #boy #smile #yolo #sky #cool #yolohard #funny #sun #bored #love #likeme #BA #coolbeans #youonlylivelifeonce #forrealz #imcool #wehere #imaboss #ftw #awesomeness #hashtagforlikes #hashtagforfollowers #hashtagtillicanthashtagnomore
The truth is, when used the way they are intended, hashtags are an incredibly helpful tool to navigate your way through the ever changing, ever evolving world of social media–especially with your business. According to Twitter, hashtags are “…used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.” Since then, hashtags have been implemented in other forms of social media and started a burgeoning trend all on its own, being used by many both in their personal and professional lives. Here are a few tips we’ve come up with on how to use them to your advantage:
#TipOne: Customize it!
On Instagram, hashtags can be used to organize your images, much like a photo album. With this tool, you can then upload consecutive photos on Instagram and include a clear, distinguishable hashtag to categorize all your photos to a corresponding event. For example, post pictures of a recent office party on your official company Instagram by using the hashtag #tailwindofficeparty. All pictures from the event will be organized in a neat “album” and ready for your viewing with an easy search. Helpful tip: make sure the hashtag you create hasn’t already been used. You can search it on the hashtag search bar to see if it brings up any result. If not, your hashtag is unique and ready for use.
#TipTwo: Search it!
Hashtags can be your equivalent of a Google Image search on Instagram. As of December 2013, Instagram has over a 150 million users. With an average of 55 million images a day, you can be sure to find a any subject matter on Instagram. Example? Ladies, if you are feeling particularly randy and absolutely need a reminder of the sheer awesome-ness of Ryan Gosling’s abs, you can search #ryangosling on the Instagram hashtag search bar and bask in all his perfectly chiseled physique. Guys, looking for Kate Upton’s Sports Illustrated cover? Easy. You can find images of #kateupton’s cover in a myriad of filters using the hashtag search bar. As a business, you can also use this option to scope out your competitors or research new ideas in your area of expertise.
#TipThree: Make it topical!
Want to start a topical conversation or read up on someone else’s views on a particular subject? Twitter and even Facebook can connect all posts/discussions/debates using hashtag. Search #politics on Twitter to see what is trending in the world of government affairs. Type #fashion to view the latest fads. Most users know by now that Facebook recently included hashtags to “…turn topics and phrases into clickable links in your posts on your personal Timeline or Page.” This allow users to search posts about topics they’re interested in.
This function is also helpful to businesses, as professionals often use Twitter as a forum to discuss market trends with others in their industry. By encouraging dialogue with other business users, you not only increase your networking opportunities, you also get to build your brand in the process.
#TipFour: Instant reviews!
The same way users find topical conversations through hashtags, you can also use them to get reviews on restaurants and services, as well as movie or even music reviews. Disgruntled customers often take to Twitter or even Facebook, warning others about their bad experience in a tweet or a status update. Additionally, users will more than likely tweet about how one-dimensional and repetitive the new Jason Statham movie is or gab on and on about how they can’t get the new Miley track out of their heads.
From a business point of view, this function is a great way to receive instant feedback from customers about your services. By doing so, you get a candid, no-holds-barred review of what went well, things that need to be improved and tips to change your approach for your clientele. It is important to note that when responding to dissatisfied customers on any form of social media using a company account, it is very important to respond in a calm manner to avoid coming across indignant or offended. The way you handle your interaction with your critics will heavily influence the way customers respond to your business or brand, so avoid being snippy because you will lose them.
#TipFive: Get Social!
If all else fails, hashtags are also a great way to connect with people! It is widely known that the best way to get more Twitter followers is by following others. What better way to get connected with someone with the same interests as you than to follow someone who tweets about the things you like? By reading the trending topics, you are opening yourself to millions of people from all over the world, all bound together in a global network of cultural exchanges. This certainly brings the world a lot closer!
So readers, can you offer any other suggestions on how to use hashtags? We’d love to hear your opinion![sc:signup-form]