Using Hashtags in your Marketing Plan

Are hashtags part of your annual marketing plan? Have you ever even considered doing something more proactive with them than just using your normal ones? If you spend any time preparing for holidays, seasons and events, then you should actively market with hashtags.

[stextbox id="black"]In case you missed the memo, a hashtag is a set of characters used to organize content in social media. Typically a hashtag starts with the pound sign (#) and is followed by some characters. Since common English words don’t start with a pound sign, using a hashtag means you can easily search for content that contains that unique phrase. Both on Twitter and Instagram, for instance, you can click on the hashtag and find everything else using that tag.[/stextbox]

Since hashtags organize content, wouldn’t it be great to have your content available to people searching for your niche hashtags?

Think outside the tweet

One of the great things about the connected internet is having the ability to feed content to your tweet stream. Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, YouTube videos, blog posts, email blasts, Foursquare check-ins, presentation slides. . . the list of ways to integrate your social media activities is long.

The key to effective hashtag marketing is making sure to use the hashtag in the appropriate place prior to publishing and sharing your content. If your blog posts feed directly to Twitter make sure your hashtags are in the title when you press “publish”. (You can always delete them right after that).

Sharing things like Instagram pics and blog posts with your Twitter stream keeps it active, encourages engagement and moves your audience from one platform to the next, which is a great strategy. Actively using hashtags means you get those benefits PLUS a whole new audience.

Hashtags and your Marketing Plan

Hashtags are used frequently at all kinds of events like SavvyBlogging, NewMediaExpo and the Tapping World Summit. There are events going on all the time, and likely events in your niche. The key is to add those tags to your marketing calendar noting the event time and subsequent 4 weeks of intense use before and after.

For instance the Savvy Blogging Summit is in October. That means interest and use of the #SBSummit hashtag will really take off in September and likely taper at Thanksgiving. Knowing that you’ll be able to connect with other bloggers at that time, put time into your schedule to check that hashtag and connect with the Savvy Bloggers.

Adding notes into your calendar with regards to the events that are going on at different times of the year will keep you in the conversation.  It’s hard to monitor everything all the time, so knowing when to focus on Hashtag A vs Hashtag B will make you much more efficient in your networking time.

Googling “Hashtag Directory” will get you three or four sites that actually aggregate some of the top hashtags. Research your keywords and see what comes up. Also search Twitter for your keywords and see what hashtags show up in the tweets. Doing a little research you’ll find a bunch of events, organizations and communities you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

I searched for wine and came up with about 100 different wine related hashtags. #winemaking #terroirvinto #ohiowineries and a bunch of small ones like #gwa that didn’t mean anything till I did a bit more research. I ended up finding different wine festivals all over the world, wine tasting groups, and regional winery associations among others. Adding those to the calendar I’ll be able to be part of more global conversation around wine.

Isn’t this just hashtag spam?

Like anything online, if you abuse it you’ll be a spammer. But used wisely you can be a welcome addition to the hashtag community. For instance if you visit Chicago and take photos of Chicago’s coolest architecture, then post the Instagram pics with the #architecture hashtag, you would likely be quite welcome to the community.

Suppose you make a fancy Oreo Cheesecake dessert which you then write about on your blog, pin it and then share the pin with Twitter using the #oreolover hashtag. Again, quite welcome. In both instances you become an asset to the community, not a leach. And in both instances you expose a new audience to two of your social media profiles.

Small group and event hashtags are a bit different because the community members likely know each other quite well. But the nice thing about them is the members themselves will likely be great, new Twitter friends. The closer to your niche you can find the hashtags, the more likely you’ll be able to enter into new, fun conversations. And meeting the new people is often reward enough. You don’t necessarily need to use the hashtag for quite some time.  You don’t want to be a hashtag hijacker, just a better friend to the community.

Spam is encroaching on a hashtag without being wanted. So take note to get to know the people using the hashtags. Retweet their tweets, use the hashtag when you address them. Basically do what you can to add value to the community. In the end you’ll be a better blogger and more in tune with what’s going on around you.

If you want to get better at planning your business activities throughout the year, check out our Marketing Calendar Blueprint – we won’t let you down.