Twitter bird tweeting hashtags

This month, Hashtags were finally brought to Facebook. This is great news!  

Hashtags are very useful, and you can use them to:

  • search for your target audiences and content topics
  • increase your audience
  • aim your posts at a particular audience
  • make your own posts easy to organize and find (internal organization)
  • easily find and participate in conversations
  • search for information

So what is a Hashtag anyway?

A hashtag is the number symbol – # – placed in front of a word, like this:  #hashtag.  It was first used as a tool for Twitter – when people wanted to find information or participate in a topical conversation, they would search for terms using the hashtag or make posts containing hashtags on key words. Hashtags are now used in many places, including Google+ and now, finally, Facebook.

To show you an example, here is a Tweet I sent out today:

Today’s #TGIF #Business #Networking #Hangout is #mobileapps #marketing w/guest @StrozKnows http://youtu.be/zmoMp73vB4U  / http://bit.ly/12JZ875 

I used a lot of Hashtags here!  Keywords were TGIF, Business, Networking, Hangout, mobileapps, and marketing. When people search for those words, my tweet will be in the results feed.  The more of those terms they search for together, the better off I am. If they search only #business, there may be so many results that mine will be very far down.  But if they further refine their search, and search for #business #mobileapps #marketing, my tweet will still show up in this now narrowed down list of results. So using those multiple hashtags is an advantage.

More examples of how to use Hashtags

Let’s show some examples so you can really get this whole hashtags thing down and start using them to benefit your business!

Ok let’s say your business is a flower shop.  Who might some of your target audiences be?  Well, women are often the recipient of flower deliveries on special occasions like mother’s day, valentine’s day, anniversaries, etc.  Patients in hospitals also are big recipients of flowers.

So who is doing the sending?  Sons and daughters, husbands, fathers, friends and family. Now keep in mind this is just a brief example, I’m not going into depth for identifying flower shop audiences – there are many more than those I listed, but for the purposes of these examples I’m sticking to simple.

Now what might you do to reach those audiences, or speak to those topics?  Here are some examples of keywords to search, and how they might be useful:

#husbands – find orgs and groups that are made up by and speak to men, find out what people are saying about husbands, find wives tweeting about their husbands. You could follow these people and join in conversations about husbands where you could offer solutions. You might then put out a tweet like:  #husbands, are your #wives #mad at you? Nothing says I’m #sorry like a dozen red #roses, on sale today at (your web site).

#wives – men talking about wives will use this and you want to reach the men. Post anecdotes about wives, post customer quotes. Ask your customers to give you their Twitter name and then Tweet them asking how their spouse liked the flowers, to get great customer quotes in return –  My #wife loved the #flower #bouquet, thank you #FlowerShop for making her happy with me!

#flowers – find flower lovers!  Post pics of flowers, post fun facts about flowers, post flower care tips, etc. – stuff that flower lovers would want to know, that would encourage them to follow you, thus building up your audience of flower lovers.

#hospital, #patient – speak to people who have loved ones who are in the hospital –  Is your loved one in the #hospital? #Cheer them up w/#Flowers. Mention this Tweet for 20% #discount thru Friday 8/9.

#BDFSA – that stands for Best Damn Flower Shop Around – this is an example of a made up hashtag term that you could use to mark your posts.  Some examples of why to do this include:

Internal organization – make your posts easy to find later:  I host a show called the TGIF Business Networking Hangout. When I make posts to promote an upcoming episode, I might tag it with #TGIFBNH. This is a term not likely to be used by others, so if I then search for #TGIFBNH, I will see a results page full of my posts marked with #TGIFBNH. So you can use hashtags for internal organization. Check out this post to see how I used Hashtags on Google+.

Internal organization – promotions: You are running an internal contest with your employees next month to encourage them to promote your store with their tweets. Give each employee a different hashtag code that they can pass on in their tweets. Have the customers use that code to get a discount on their order, or a free flower, or some other incentive. Now you have a way to track the contest – at the end of the month, you’ll see which employee’s code was used the most.  This provides incentive for employees to promote your biz and provides incentive for customers by giving them a discount.

Contest promotion: Create a contest tracked with a special hashtag code. Here’s an example:  #Flower #Trivia #Contest! Who can name this flower? First correct reply wins! Use #BDFSATrivia to participate! 

I just did a search for #contest over on Twitter – click here to take a look at the results and see how others are using hashtags to promote a business or awareness building contest.

These are just a few examples of how to use Hashtags. I used Tweets as my examples, but you can also use them in Google+ and Facebook on posts not limited by character counts. In Google+ I search for #palmsprings, #palmdesert, and other local area cities to find people to add to my CV Locals circle. Then I can notify that circle whenever I’m doing a local presentation or workshop. So that’s a great example of building a target audience!  Now I can start doing the same on Facebook. Woot!