Let’s talk about #hashtags. As many of us know, hashtags allow social media users to group key words and phrases so they are easily searchable. But these days, they are so much more; and coming up with a solid hashtag is a crucial element of most successful social media strategies.
Here are some of the ways you can use hashtags take your social media strategy to the next level:
Promote an Event
You can use a hashtag to promote an upcoming event. Share event details using the hashtag, so potential and confirmed attendees can easily see what you’ll have to offer. Ask ticket purchasers to share that they’re attending using the event hashtag, so that their followers will take notice as well. Promote images of past events, when possible, to entice first-time attendees.
Then, use the same hashtag during the event itself so attendees can share their experiences, be it through quotes, anecdotes or photos. This is free (and sometimes even viral) publicity, plus it allows you to review the event from the perspective of your attendees after it’s over.
One great example is goods for goods’ #GalaforGood campaign. Leading up to their annual Gala for Good fundraiser, the organization uses the hashtag to share event details, encouraging their followers to join in the fun and promote the cause. Then, at the gala, attendees are encouraged to share their favorite parts of the evening using the hashtag, providing a fun overview for anyone interested (and fodder for the next year’s campaign!).
Launch a Campaign
Whether you’re launching a new product or fundraiser, you can rally people around your campaign with a great hashtag. Often, people first become interested in a product or an organization because they’re committed to the mission behind it. Hashtags give companies and organizations the opportunity to share their mission in one short, shareable statement that will engage their followers.
Standbuy, a crowdfunding platform for those who have been diagnosed with cancer, launched a fundraiser last year using the hashtag #StandbuyEachother. Not only did they encourage contributors to spread the word about the campaign, but they also used the hashtag to collect stories of gratitude for times that their followers received help in a time of need. Using the hashtag in this way built a positive conversation around the campaign, and strengthened and expanded Standbuy’s community of supporters.
Hashtags can also be used to increase engagement with your target audience and expand your following. One tactic is to ask questions of your followers using a specific hashtag, and encourage them to share their answers using it as well. Another is to simply include your hashtag in posts about a relevant topic, and ask your followers to do the same.
For example, nonprofit organizations that are working to end human trafficking often use hashtags like #endhumantrafficking, #endtrafficking, and #endslavery to rally supporters on social media. Through these hashtags, those who are interested in the issue can engage with organizations that are doing work they believe in, that they may not have known about otherwise. You can learn more about how to get involved in the fight against human trafficking here.
Participate in a Movement
Twitter has emerged as a platform for discussion around major global events and social issues, and those conversations are often centered around hashtags. Hashtags allow people from around the world to easily connect on these topics, sharing their thoughts and opinions.
One incredible example of how a hashtag contributed to such a movement started in summer of 2013, when George Zimmerman was acquitted of shooting Trayvon Martin. In response, hundreds of thousands of individuals participated in the #BlackLivesMatter movement on Twitter, voicing their anger and disappointment in the police force and judicial system. Today, the movement continues, and extends far beyond Twitter.
If you’re interested in using hashtags in this way, here are some other ways that you can spark global discourse through Twitter.
Start or Join a Trending Topic
You can also use hashtags to attract new followers in your day-to-day strategy. The original purpose of hashtags was to organize certain words and phrases so that they are easily searchable to all users. That purpose is still relevant today, and is the basis for many meaningful connections.
If you’re tweeting about a topic that you think others might be talking about as well, do a little bit of research on the hashtags associated with the topic. If it’s something that is currently in the news, it may be an official trending topic – check the list on the left-hand side of your Twitter feed. If not, you can still include relevant hashtags in your tweets to engage others who might be searching for articles or conversation on the same topic. Some of our favorites are #socialimpact, #socent, and #changemakers. Share with us in the comments if you know of a hashtag you think we should follow!
While Twitter and Instagram are the most popular platforms for using hashtags, they are also supported on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and more. Be sure to consider which platforms you’ll be using and how you can integrate your hashtag into your campaign across all of them.
If you’re developing your own hashtag, make it simple, catchy, and unique to ensure effectiveness. A good hashtag is pure gold when it comes to engagement in the fast-paced world of social media, so take the time to be thoughtful about it.