4 Benefits of Using Hashtags

All over the Internet, people use hashtags to find information and hold conversations. They are even used as language in face-to-face conversations! They have so many uses to help readers find your content and spread your brand name.

Take the #HipmunkCityLove hashtag as an example. Hipmunk, a travel-booking and review site, uses hashtags to spread the love about various cities, including Cancun in the city reviews I wrote for them. Not only does the hashtag spread the word about Hipmunk, but it also allows travelers to share insider information about cities and learn about places they want to visit. To get in on the hashtag game, learn about these four benefits.

Spreading Brand Name

Image via Flickr by melenita2012

Image via Flickr by melenita2012

Like word-of-mouth marketing, social media gives you an amazing opportunity to spread your brand  further than you normally can. Hashtags that catch the eye are a great way to do this. Branded hashtags have immediate business recognition, but are not shared as widely unless the marketing message behind it is really engaging.

If you use a hashtag that supports a conversation related to your business without your name in it, you have a better chance of spreading it. Without a direct reference to your brand, however, people may not associate your business with it. If you start an active conversational strategy where you are commenting and sharing every positive use of the hashtag, people will more easily associate your brand with the hashtag.

Starting a Conversation

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Via Flickr by mikecogh

When you create a hashtag, you are starting a specific conversation about a topic related to your business or industry. People love chatting on social and sharing media in relation to hashtags. If the conversation you are trying to start is interesting enough, people will happily join in.

A precaution: make the hashtag specific so people cannot make any negative commentary. The label #McDStories is an example of a hijacked hashtag. McDonald’s wanted people to share their awesome experiences at McDonald’s. Instead, the audiences used the hashtag as permission to complain about their bad experiences.

Convert Customers and Increase Sales

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Via Flickr by mikecogh

If you have a product you sell, you can create a hashtag around it. This works great if it is a new, anxiously anticipated item, or a very popular product. Encourage people to take photos of themselves using the product and share the images with the hashtag. To incite more interest, offer a prize or reward for the best picture or most creative use of your product. This media sharing will greatly improve your brand reach, converting new customers who want to try your product, and increasing sales.

Positive Customer Service

Via Flickr by cogdogblog

Via Flickr by cogdogblog

When you start and participate in the hashtag conversation, it acts as customer service. People who enjoy your conversation will remember your contributions, creating positive feelings about your brand. This positivity will stick, giving your audience great customer service before they even buy!

The benefits of using hashtags are enormous. Not participating actually puts your business at a disadvantage. Even if you simply join hashtag conversations without creating your own, you need to get in the conversation.

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Hashtag Etiquette on Twitter

Hashtags are the keywords of Twitter. They are so effective that other social platforms and digital spaces are implementing them. That being said, there is an absolutely wrong way to use hashtags for a business’ reputation and perception online. The same way Google has SEO guidelines and algorithms to prevent keyword stuffing, your business needs to do a self-check on how you are using hashtags on social.

Via Flickr by  James Mitchell

Via Flickr by James Mitchell

Businesses want their Tweets to be seen, so they often make the mistake of stuffing their posts with as many hashtags (or keywords) as possible. An example:

Buy our product! #product #anothernameforproduct #industry #relatedindustry #relatedindustry #relatedindustry #companyname

Yes, hashtags can be helpful in getting your content exposure. Too many hashtags turns users off. When you hashtag stuff, you become:

  • a spam email
  • a flyer shoved in their fact at an event
  • a blind telemarketing call,
  • a pop-up ad

Fix It Tip: Stick to 1-3 hashtags at most for each Tweet.

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Alright, you‘ve got it, 1-3 hashtags! You start sending out Tweets that look like this:

Buy our product! #product #industry #companyname

But you don’t see any improvement in engagement or reach. One reason for a lack of engagement in the above example is the hashtag placement. Social is about having a conversation, and sticking hashtags at the end still gives off a distinct advertising feel.

Fix It Tip: Place hashtags naturally into the conversation, such as:

Buy our #product – it improves #industry. #companyname

As you may have noticed in that example, it is okay to put a hashtag at the end of a Tweet as a statement point. But the majority of hashtags should be placed naturally in the Tweet.

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Let’s keep improving the Tweet! Even with the fix it tip, the Tweet is still obviously advertising because of its wording. Here is a real life of example of what you are doing when you directly ask people to buy stuff on social. Two friends are talking in a coffee shop and you interrupt them to show off your superamazingawesomelifechanging product. The friends will be annoyed and will never buy from you. Multiply that example by millions and that is what you are doing on social when you directly advertise.

Fix It Tip: Inject some empathy into that Tweet! Instead of using hashtags as keywords to gain customers, think of them as tools to help the customer find the product they need to make their life easier. An example:

This #industrytask makes your life difficult. Try #product to get back to easy work and easier living. #companyname

You may have noticed the trending hashtags on Twitter. You know they are popular and want to use them to get exposure. DiGiorno Pizza thought the same with their Tweet.

digiorno-pizza

Here is the problem – the #WhyIStayed campaign was about domestic violence and having real women explain why they stayed in abusive relationships.

pizzafail

Fix It Tip: Always. Research. Hashtags. This is a good example of why you need to. The trending hashtags are a conversation. You can’t jump in without knowing what it’s about. Another real life example – let’s say you are at a party and you overhear someone talking about peanuts. Excited, you jump into their conversation, raving about this awesome peanut-centric recipe you have, only to find out they were talking about how one person’s cousin just died from a peanut allergy. Not only is that immensely awkward, but you became “that guy.” Don’t do it on social! DiGiorno Pizza feels so awkward about their fail that they haven’t been on Twitter since (which is a whole other social media mistake, but that is for a different post entirely).

It is a good idea to research any hashtag you want to use. Find out:

  • what it actually means
  • who is using it
  • how are they using it
  • how often it is being used
Via Flickr by cogdogblog

Via Flickr by cogdogblog

Lastly, I will tackle the Shakespearean question: To use or not to use branded hashtags? A simple branded hashtag you put at the end of every Tweet (ie: #companyname) is a good idea. You can even have branded hashtags for campaigns or special things your brand does that sets you apart from the competition. Just don’t use all of them all the time.

Bonus Hashtag Tips: Since hashtags are on multiple platforms, you may be wondering, “How in the world do I use them everywhere else?” Here is a quick cheat sheet:

Via Flickr by clasesdeperismo

Via Flickr by clasesdeperismo

  • Facebook: I don’t believe you should use them at all, but that is a personal choice. If you want to use hashtags on Facebook, I would stick to one at the end of a post.
  • Instagram: More hashtags are okay on Instagram. Try 3-5 in a post and make them more personal and less trendy. Hashtags are a way of conversing on Instagram rather than to find images.
  • Pinterest: Preferably, hover around 2-4 per post. Often Pinterest users don’t care about hashtag content in a post, they just want the information on the Pin. If you want to use more you can, but I stand by the fact that keyword stuffing on any platform makes your brand look scammy and unprofessional.
  • Tumblr: Use as many hashtags as you want since they are nondescript. However, your brand will win the favor of the difficult Tumblr audience if you research the crap out of popular Tumblr hashtags to understand the platform’s unique conversation.
  • Google+: Since not everyone uses Google+ for audience expansion, there is not much etiquette on hashtags (besides keyword stuffing). Stick to 2-4 hashtags, either throughout the post or at the end.
  • LinkedIn: No hashtags on LinkedIn. Come on, people, LinkedIn is a classy professional place. Using hashtags is the equivalent of wearing sweatpants to a merger meeting.

Should You Add Tumblr to Your Brand’s Marketing Plan?

Just under a year ago, Tumblr announced the premiere of native ads on the Tumblr mobile platform. Made to blend in with posts, these ads caused many brands to flock to Tumblr. Whether or not it was successful for all these brands depends on their content strategy. On Tumblr, there are a few things your brand needs to do to become successful.

Via Flickr scottjacksonx

Via Flickr scottjacksonx

Get Users Involved

The users on Tumblr love being on the site. You need to get them involved with your brand so they love sharing your content. For example, Club Monaco runs campaigns asking Tumblr users to model their clothing and share it on the platform. This makes users participate, reblog, and fall in love with the brand.

Link to Your Website

While both are photo-centric websites, Pinterest got ahead of Tumblr with the ability to link back to a webpage in photos. This made tutorials and shopping a lot easier. Brands on Tumblr need to add a link back to their website where the product is displayed. Tumblr users will be grateful and you will receive more hits and conversions.

Via Flickr hm7hm7

Via Flickr hm7hm7

Put Bloggers in Control

You need to take the Tumblr users and let them control your brand. This platform is unique in the fact that posts go viral very often and easily. This can happen when you follow how Tumblr users interact and apply it to your brand. When you speak the Tumblr language, you put your brand in the hands of users and will get more exposure.

If your brand cannot meet these requirements, then you need to consider other platforms instead.

The Importance of Tumblr for Brand Awareness

Tumblr is an often overlooked platform when businesses implement a social media plan. However, Tumblr is perfect for brand strategy. It is a very visual platform that lets users share anything and everything, from text, quotes, pictures, video, links, music, and the popular GIFs. If your brand has a high visual element, consider adding Tumblr to your marketing plan.

Tumblr is different from traditional blogging platforms. Short form content gets more interaction and engagement from users than long form content. Businesses who put their brands on Tumblr have ultimate creativity, utilizing photos, images, memes, GIFs, and more to spread their brand.

  • Tumblr is an easy way to spread your brand since content is quickly shared to get thousands of views in just one day.
  • Brands with lots of content can use Tumblr to highlight their best images.
  • Brands without a lot of content can share things that spread their brand awareness without needing original content.
  • Tumblr can be used to tease new products, promote a sale, give a behind the scenes look at their business, or tell their story to an engaged audience.
  • There are more than 1,300 themes on Tumblr, allowing complete customization and a variety of looks that can match your brand.

Because it is such a unique platform, you need to decide if your brand is ready for Tumblr. There are three important aspects of the site that you need to understand before starting a Tumblr campaign for brand awareness.

Via Flickr Wickerfurniture

Via Flickr Wickerfurniture

Creators

Tumblr is growing rapidly, thanks in part to brands ignoring the platform. There are over 107 million blogs and over 50 billion blog posts. Every day, over 70 million new blog posts are created. How creative the content is grows every day as well. While users do post text as if they were posting a status on Facebook, the text is usually a strange thought or a new way of thinking which reblogged by thousands of users. Users create artwork and videos every day to put on Tumblr. Fandoms of popular books, movies, and television shows are a very popular audience on the site. If your brand is highly visual, you can get ahead of the competition and put your brand on Tumblr while it is still appreciated by the users.

Via Yahoo! News UK's Tumblr

Via Yahoo! News UK’s Tumblr

The GIF

Tumblr has made the GIF popular again. Essentially, a GIF is like a five second snip from a video, slowed down without sound. GIF creation has become an art form in itself, inspiring the creation of other short video forms like Vine. GIFs are usually funny or an accurate depiction of how the user thinks or feels.

Many posts on Tumblr are a series of unrelated GIFs that express the emotion of a certain situation, usually humorous. GIFs are also used to capture moments of user’s favorite movies, TV shows, or interviews that their favorite celebrity did. Users add text overlay to the GIFs so people know what is being said, since there is no volume. Sometimes, users replace what is actually said with something much funnier.

How Your Mother Met Me

Television

Some of television’s most passionate fans flock to Twitter to express their love for the show with creative artwork, GIFs, videos, and commentary. In fact, major networks are missing out on an opportunity to directly market to their biggest fans. Popular shows on Tumblr include How I Met Your Mother, Supernatural, and Glee. All of these shows are on different networks, giving huge marketing potential of television. If you are thinking of putting your brand on Tumblr, join in on TV show conversations to get more loyal followers. Only do this if it relates to your brand.

If you think your brand can achieve these three aspects of Twitter in your posts, then Tumblr is a marketing goldmine waiting for you. The platform is perfect for brands geared at a younger generation or brands whose personality is humorous. They are also perfect for brands with a lot of visual content, such as Calvin Klein, who only post photos of models wearing their underwear to increase brand awareness only. Make sure to do your research before implementing a marketing strategy. Only certain brands can achieve notoriety on Tumblr, but the ones that do are very successful, like GQ and ModCloth.

How Tumblr Improves SEO Ranks – Part 2

NOTE: After this post, Tumblr will now be on Thursdays with YouTube and Vine will be on Saturdays with Instagram.

Tumblr is a unique way to blog and offers many other marketing benefits over other social media platforms. It is a creative way to express your brand and can cause a new group of fun and loyal clients. Tumblr can also be a great way to improve your SEO ranks. This can be done many ways, including special Tumblr titles, URLs, and keywords.

Via Flickr buyalex

Via Flickr buyalex

Promote Yourself and Improve Visibility

While Tumblr is not optimized for business, there are still many promotional elements that you can use. The option for followers to reblog your content allows your brand to be shared and viewed by many different people across several platforms. There is also a Like option which adds notes to your posts, increasing the visibility of your Tumblr blog.

Drive Traffic to Tumblr Posts

Proper use of keyword in the tag section, reblogging, and Likes all increase the visibility of your posts. This drives more traffic to the posts and your blog. When people want to share the post across different platforms, they have to go to your blog in order to share the permanent link of the post. This further increases your brand awareness.

Discover Great Content

Tumblr is crafted in order for users to find great new content. They incorporate hashtags along with keywords when people are searching for content, meaning you do not need to have a ton of followers in order for your content to be discovered and reblogged. Great content is discovered and shared many times without having a single follower.

Combine the Power of Facebook and WordPress

What makes Tumblr such a unique platform is the ability to incorporate the best aspects of popular content social media sites, like Facebook and WordPress. Tumblr has the ability to blog, like WordPress, along with the social sharing capabilities of Facebook. Tumblr lets you optimize the blog with a wide variety of content and content sharing features. Even the content you want for your posts have a ton of options for customization.

Check out part one of how Tumblr improves SEO next Thursday! In the meantime, let me know what you think of Tumblr as a social media platform in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

How Tumblr Improves SEO Ranks – Part 1

I have decided to change up my days and their topics a little bit. Thursdays are now about YouTube and Vine Video and Saturdays will now be on Instagram and Tumblr. Let’s put housekeeping away and focus on how you can use Tumblr for your business marketing!

Tumblr is a unique way to blog and offers many other marketing benefits over other social media platforms. It is a creative way to express your brand and can cause a new group of fun and loyal clients. Tumblr can also be a great way to improve your SEO ranks. This can be done many ways, including special Tumblr titles, URLs, and keywords.

Many businesses use Tumblr as a secondary blog that helps increase the brand’s SEO rankings. The links you put on Tumblr through photos, videos, and quotes can be optimized in order to direct traffic to a company’s website. There are three ways you can see improved SEO rankings.

Via Flickr dmhoro

Via Flickr dmhoro

Customize Everything

Tumblr makes it easy to let you customize everything for better SEO rankings. Domain names are one of the things you can customize and integrate. This is important since search engines attribute priority to domain names. This procedure is simple and can be done when setting up an account.

Each post can also have its own custom URL. There is a set a custom URL option under the tag box that improves SEO results. HTML codes can be customized as well, even allowing you to post in the custom format. They are the most search friendly.

Optimize Everything

The alt and title attributes can be optimized so they have a better experience in search engine results. This requires some knowledge of HTML code in order to see those results. Keywords can be added to the post under the tags section. This ensures the blog will appear at the top of results that use those keywords, as long as you have done your research and chosen keywords that work.

Provide “Do Follow” Links in All Your Posts

Links that are added to your Tumblr posts are called do-follow links. They help you increase traffic to your website by sharing these links. Fill out your About section with interesting and inviting content, along with the link to your website. Add this symbol: [x] to the bottom of your posts and add a hyperlink to your website on the x. Most users will click the symbol, since it is known for getting more information not shown in the post.

Check out part two of how Tumblr improves SEO next Thursday! In the meantime, let me know what you think of Tumblr as a social media platform in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!