Friday, 5 August 2011

How do you use #hashtags on Twitter for Business?

We do have a tendency to focus on facebook when speaking about Social Media here at Souper News. With good reason too, as having an active usership of over 750 million, it's the undisputed king of Social Media. This means that when a business is looking for a target audience in Social Media, the chances are they'll find the largest on facebook.

But facebook isn't the be all and end all. There's a multitude of Social Media platforms out there and sometimes it's appropriate to branch off from facebook and incorporate more into the marketing mix. If a company, for instance, has some real characters among it's staff, videos may be able to exploit and get that across more than a photo or written word. If that's the case, then Youtube is the place to be.

More than any other platform though, we recommend and use twitter, combined with facebook, in Social Media marketing strategies. Again, it's got a huge usership, but it's more how it's used that's the key. Social Media has always had an element of being something of a virtual version of word of mouth, traditionally regarded as on of the best ways a business can be promoted. Twitter distils this and keeps it simple, making it the focus and in doing so, replicating real world word of mouth more fully than any other platform.

Twitter is simply great at getting the word out. With the right followers and specifically targeting users with influence and good followings of their own, an interesting marketing message can really catch fire and spread far and wide. Though barely any different in essence from a status update on facebook, the lack of 'noise' from the myriad of other things one can usually do on other platforms, means a tweet can go so much further.

If that tweet contains the same keyword as many others posted at that time, say the name of a celebrity in the News, then that keyword may 'trend'. This means that it will be displayed as trending on the twitter home page, as well as various associated apps. Users may then click on the trends and see all the related tweets.

Hashtags (preceding a word with '#', i.e. '#eskimosoup') take this further, by converting the keyword to a link in the actual tweet, going through to a page displaying all the tweets containing that term. Recently, with the Murdoch scandal in the News, '#hackgate' became popular, so anyone interested could click on that hashtag and see every tweet containing the term.

So how can this be useful to Business?

As I always say with Social Media and often with the Internet in general, they're still young and are only just beginning to explore their potential, so many ways may yet be to come. Below though, are a few top tips from us about using hashtags on twitter. It's by no means exhaustive. We may know more, but sorry, we're not telling. If we did that, everybody would be as good as us! ;-)

Watch the Trends - By definition, trends are popular. If a hashtag is trending it means thousands, if not millions, of people are writing and reading them right now. If you can drop your message in there, by adding the hashtag to your tweet, that's a huge audience.

Trending where? - If you're an online business with e-commerce trading internationally to everywhere covered by twitter, it doesn't matter. Otherwise, it does. If your market is the UK, hashtags containing 'UK' are an obvious indicator, as are those with city names, though they might have a narrower reach. Words specific to UK news could also be right.

... and I'll leave it there.

'What?! Only two top tips! Where's the usual ten I find everywhere else?', I might hear you cry.

Oh ok, we'll have some more next week, looking at how relevance is key in using twitter hashtags and how best to create your own.

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