You see it all the time. A company or a person posts a Tweet or an Instagram post that links to a piece of content, followed by a dozen (or unbelievably, sometimes more) hashtags. If you’re at all like me there might have been a point where you wondered — “What is that really doing for them?”
Most of the time, the answer is simply: nothing. However, that isn’t meant to be a statement on the effectiveness of hashtags in general. Hashtag usage can be extremely rewarding, but only when it’s done in a smart way. Forward-thinking social sellers, digital marketers and social media managers can benefit from the audience and awareness growth that hashtag marketing brings to the table.
In this article, we’ll explain what hashtags are, why they work with audiences, and we’ll cover some of the typical strategies used in hashtag marketing to grow the reach of social updates.
Why Do Hashtags Work?
When Twitter first debuted hashtags, I’m not certain that they fully understood the magnitude of what they created and the widespread uses their feature would receive. The feature still acts as it did when it was first launched, although Twitter has bolstered up the systems around it to make hashtags easier to engage with. The feature was so popular that it was eventually adopted by other social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn — making it a key feature in the social marketing world.
Initially, hashtags were created for content tagging. When you share a piece of content, you can tag it with a relevant #hashtag, which will make it easier for people to search for this keyword on the respective platform. That is still true today, despite the ballooning number of ways that users use them.
Today, hashtags help users in a few key ways:
Studies have shown that Tweets and Facebook posts that include 1-2 hashtags typically receive more engagement than those with zero or those with 3 or more.
Hashtags work because they are helpful. Social networks are inherently very messy. There is a lot of noise, with thousands of users sharing their thoughts on different topics any given second. Hashtags help us to break through that noise and find our niche and the conversation we’re interested in. They give us a way to easily discuss the topics that are important to use and find that island of community in the sea of social networking.
Now let’s dive into the different hashtag marketing strategies that are most commonly used to grow the reach and presence of a social post or topic. In each section, I’ll provide examples of popular brands using each method to get the gears turning on how you might be able to integrate hashtag marketing into your own business.
Types of Hashtags to Use
Using hashtags isn’t enough. If you aren’t smart in the way that you use them, you’ll see no more engagement than your typical hashtag spammer does. Finding smart and effective ways to use hashtags will not only expand the reach of your social posts but will help to improve your brand awareness overall as you consistently appear in specific industry-related hashtags.
In this section, we’ll cover the different types of popular hashtag marketing strategies we see continually delivering results to brands.
Trending hashtags are perhaps the most common hashtag marketing strategy and arguably the most impactful when done well. The trending hashtags that show up on Twitter and Facebook drive a lot of eyeballs to the posts that perform well and use those hashtags. For most companies, the trending hashtags will rarely align with their business or service, but keeping a close eye on them can yield creative opportunities to tie your brand to a current trending topic.
The brand exposure can be astronomical if you are in the right place at the right time. This can’t be shown any more clearly than during news events that trend, when news publications often have the most popular Tweets in the category.
Let’s look at an example.
Do you remember the Pokemon Go craze? Pokemon Go was a Pokemon mobile game that allowed players to catch Pokemons out in the real world using a GPS system. The game was a huge hit and had brought in more than $1.8 billion in sales by Summer 2018, just two years after its release.
The game was trending on every social network. That fact was not lost on Warby Parker, a prescription eyeglasses company. While their business may seem wholly unrelated to the Pokemon Go trend, they found a simple way to make the most of the hashtag and use it to their advantage:
Nothing earth-shattering in terms of engagement, but a simple post with a few digitally-added Pokemon in their office with some of the employees caught a small wave on the trending #PokemonGo hashtag and got them noticed. This example is great because it shows a fun side of their team that customers don’t usually get to see as well.
Community hashtags can be a great way to connect with a very specific audience. Some might say that they are another version of branded hashtags because many influential brands have communities that pop up around them.
Using our earlier example, a quick search of the #JustinBieber hashtag pulls up a long list of fans celebrating the person and the music and a few voicing their dislike as well:
It comes as no surprise. People are always sharing their opinions on Twitter. Let’s look at a brand example. Nike is a company with a lot of fans. At any given time, there are dozens of loyal supporters discussing Nike products, advertisements, and news on Twitter.
These brands see genuine communities grow around their brand and products. Often, brands will use their own name as a hashtag in an attempt to get a sort of social media community growing around their brand. While this strategy will only work for companies that have passionate and loyal customers, it can be a great way to help people find information about your company regardless.
One example of a smaller company using this hashtag marketing strategy comes from West Elm, a furniture and home decor company. They tag all of their Instagram photos with the #MyWestElm hashtag and ask that their followers to do the same when sharing pictures of their furniture.
This allows the company to showcase a variety of styles in their products and provides would-be customers with social proof that their products are loved and appreciated by their customers.
While the West Elm example highlights a long-term branding approach to social media, there are shorter, more focused ways to use hashtag marketing to grow your social presence. Campaign hashtags are used as part of a social media marketing campaign or contest. They typically have a start and end date — however long the company will be running a particular campaign.
Some of the common types of hashtag campaigns that we see having success socially typically promote things like:
While marketing hashtag campaigns have a limited lifespan, they can make a big splash in a short amount of time when they connect with your audience.
Events make for a great opportunity for hashtag marketing. They have a built-in audience of attendees, those that wish they could attend, and the rest of us that are on the outside looking in, wondering what all of the fuss is about.
For example, posting updates about popular industry conferences can be a great way to not only schedule some interesting coffee meetups during the conference, but it can help your brand to gain more visibility throughout.
Here’s a good example of using a conference hashtag to bolster brand content:
Once Pubcon had wrapped up, the company published a detailed wrap-up of the event. Then, they promoted this content on Twitter and other social networks using hashtags that were associated with the event.
Do you know what a Twitter chat is? A Twitter chat is essentially a public discussion that organizes itself by hashtag. Let’s say a teacher’s union wanted to take a day to discussion teaching salaries in the US. They might choose to do this under a hashtag like #TeachingPayChat or something similar. Not only does this approach help chat participants to find discussions to take part in, but it increases the visibility of the cause to users outside of their group that normally wouldn’t participate.
Here’s a an example of a few Tweets from a Twitter chat called #BlogChat:
In other words, a Twitter chat is simply a way for people (and brands) to have somewhat organized discussions around a popular topic. If you are able to find a Twitter chat that closely aligns with your brand or product, it can be a powerful opportunity to get your product in front of an ideal audience.
If you want to find Twitter chats (scheduled ones, anyway), I recommend keeping a close eye on the TweetReports Twitter Chat Schedule page.
Content Description Hashtags
Simple, but often effective. Simply tagging your updates with useful hashtags that describe your content can be an effective way to increase their visibility. For instance, if I were to promote this post on social media, I might use a content descriptor hashtag like #SocialMediaMarketing or #HashtagMarketing. This will help searchers who are interested in content around those subjects to find my post.
There are many companies that keep a close watch on hashtags that are related to their industry. They use it to find brand partners, customers, and answer questions for authority building. Appearing in content description hashtags can be a solid way to network and find like-minded companies to partner with.
Product or Service Hashtags
If you have a company that offers multiple products or services, hashtags can draw attention to the different sides of your brand. This is incredibly helpful when your products have different audiences.
These hashtags can help consumers to perform research on a product. Sifting through your catalogue can be difficult if you have a large range of products and services. A product or service hashtag makes it simple for consumers to find information about that product.
Take a look at this example from GoPro, while promoting their GoProPlus:
If you hadn’t guessed already — the elephant ends up kicking the camera and damaging it. This is a fun and lighthearted way to promote new selling points for their Go Pro Plus line. The post did very well, receiving more than a whopping 100,000 likes and 600+ comments.
Hashtag Marketing ToolsNow that we’ve covered popular hashtag marketing strategies, we have to recommend a few tools that will make your life a whole lot easier. These tools will help you generate, track, and research hashtags for your social media marketing campaigns:
Use Hashtag Marketing to Grow Your Social Reach
Smart hashtag usage isn’t about spamming as many hashtags as you can into each update. It’s about finding smart, strategic ways to get your social media updates in front of your ideal audience. The strategies in this article should help you to get the gears turning on how you can implement effective hashtag strategies into your own social media presence.
What do you think? If you’ve used hashtags in a unique way or have questions about hashtag marketing, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!
In today’s digital world, social media engagement is essential to a business’s success. Through social selling, SocialSellinator help you find prospects, drive inbound leads, build relationships and grow recognition for your brand. Our passion ensures that our clients utilize social media to its fullest potential. Our journey began with managing social media accounts only in Silicon Valley. But, to see how we stack up to competitors in our industry worldwide, we’ve joined Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews platform.
Based in Washington, D.C., Clutch offers a database of information to prospective buyers that are in search of a business partner. They evaluate companies in various industries based on certain qualifications: industry expertise, social media presence, and former client projects. We’ve stacked up well in Clutch’s analysis, and we’re proud to announce that we’ve ranked on their list of the best graphic designers in 2019.
What we’re most proud of, though, is our client reviews. A completely unique aspect to their platform, Clutch actually conducts telephone interviews with our former clients to hear how well our work has served them. The positive feedback so far has been humbling, and we’re really excited to share the first review we have on our profile:
We strive to make our process intuitive and unique for each of our clients’ needs, so we’re glad to hear our process has been achieving results that make our partners proud to work with us.
Clutch has two sister websites, The Manifest and Visual Objects, and we’ve achieved high positions on both of them. The Manifest, where we list as a top social media agency in San Jose, is a collection of industry reports, how-to lists, and agency rankings. Visual Objects, where we place as one of the top digital marketing agencies, offers visual compilations of past projects for each company on the site. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be featured so favorably on these third-party platforms, and we’re eager to see how the online visibility boosts our own brand recognition in the new year.
We’re grateful to our friends at Clutch for including us in their research, to our former clients for taking the time to share their reviews, and to all who have helped our company grow. We hope to continue providing excellent customer service and delivering social media campaigns that get our partners closer to their goals. Feel free to reach out to us today to get started on a new project!
It would be nice if B2B customers showed up fully-informed and ready to buy. Most of the time, that simply isn’t the case. Customers require some nurturing and education on their way to making a big investment in their business in buying your product or services.
The process of walking the customer through that nurturing process takes place during what is known as a “sales funnel.” A sales funnel is the way that customers move through the process of becoming aware of your product, to ultimately buying it. These funnels cover a wide range of conversations, channels, and metrics that you use to evaluate how efficiently you walk customers through that process. According to Salesforce, 68% of companies have not identified or attempted to measure their sales funnel.
But — social media doesn’t exactly lend itself well to a traditional sales funnel. The process of engaging with prospects is different than it would be if they found you through a Google search or advertisement. While the “social media marketing funnel” does share similarities to a traditional funnel, there are some key differences:
What Does a Traditional Sales Funnel Look Like?
Traditional sales funnels all have the same basic set of steps and flow. While the actual actions may differ slightly from one company to another, they still walk the prospect through a series of steps that lead toward them not only purchasing your product but becoming an advocate of your solution:
No matter what kind of product you are offering or what tasks are included in this process, the same basic formula applies to nearly every transaction you make. Prospects learn about your solution, develop an interest, engage with your brand, and buy your product. In addition, consulting companies like McKinsey have developed more refined approaches to the traditional funnel. In particular, I like the consumer decision journey by David Court, Dave Elzinga, Susan Mulder, and Ole Jørgen Vetvik, which is less linear and more complex. It reflects a multiude of influences and decision-points that a buyer/prospect is exposed to.
How Can That Be Applied to Social Media?
When it comes to a social media marketing funnel, the actual stages don’t change. However, the tasks associated with a social media marketing funnel will be unique to that channel, and may even have differences based on the platform that you are using.
Here is an example of how you can fill out a social media marketing funnel with tasks that align closely with a traditional sales funnel:
As you can see, this social media marketing funnel applies specific actions to different stages of the funnel. In the beginning, when prospects are building awareness of your product, they view and follow your business on social media. That eventually leads to more overt engagement in the way of mentions and direct messages. It shows how persistence throughout the process of familiarizing yourself with a prospect pays off. 44% of salespeople give up after just one rejection, but success in social selling relies on a constant stream of interactions to build familiarity. Giving up after just one rejection would result in a lot of lost sales for most successful social sellers.
The conversations help to set the stage of the sale and nurture your prospects through the buying process while they develop familiarity with your company and product. A 2018 survey by Hubspot revealed that only 69% of marketers feel their top priority should be converting leads into customers.
Keep it Natural with Social Selling
At its core, social selling attempts to simulate a traditional sales funnel in a social media setting. The process of building awareness, then engaging with and educating prospects are core to the prime tenants of effective social selling strategy.
Social media selling relies on a more natural, conversational process than developing sales through other channels. By mirroring a traditional sales funnel and mapping out the different tasks and associated with each phase, you can help yourself to better understand your own selling processes and optimize them as time goes on.
Are you interested in hiring a social media consultant but aren’t exactly sure what qualifications you should be looking for?
Fear not, because it’s easy to get lost when hiring a social media consultant. There are so many of them out there, each of them with a range of experience and expertise that might make them suitable for specific clients. But you don’t care about what a consultant can do for someone else as much as what they can do for you, right?
Trying to decipher which consultant will be the right choice for your business can be tough. When prospective clients come to us at SocialSellinator, there are a few criteria that we look at to determine whether or not we would be a good fit for their business. We encourage all companies that are evaluating social media consultant to evaluate these three traits first and foremost to determine fit:
1) A Track Record Filled with Positive Results
Would you trust a social media consultant that can’t seem to get their own social media ship floating? If they have fewer followers than you (or seem to get very little engagement on the platforms they are active on) that should be a huge red flag, signaling that they might not be the best person to work with.
By that same token, they should be able to provide you with a proven track record of results for their clients as well. There are a million so-called “social media experts” out there claiming that they can generate returns for their clients, but how many of them can actually prove it? So many prospective clients come to us having been burned by other consultants.
Have they been able to drive business results for their clients? How about website traffic originating from social media? Look into their published case studies. Ask for references. Ask about their experience. Make sure that they can deliver what they claim they can and can verifiably prove that they have done the same for other companies.
2) Alignment with Your Business Goals
For you to have an ideal outcome from working with a social media marketing consultant, it is important that both parties have a full understanding of what success from the engagement actually looks like. It’s important that expectations are outlined and in alignment before the engagement begins.
A good social media marketing consultant will be able to recommend different strategies for different goals. For instance — a company that is more interested in baseline sales would be more likely to need a Facebook ads service than a service that will drive organic engagement over an extended period of time. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work unless that one-size fits with your business goals perfectly. Always insist on a custom-tailored strategy.
3) An Understanding of Your Industry
It can’t be overstated how much an understanding of your industry will help a social media marketing consultant to devise a strategy that generates a return. Social media is a crowded field. Specialization gives you a leg up by ensuring that the consultant you choose to work with has a deep understanding of your customers. They should know how the industry works and how their strategy will work to your benefit, based on their experience working with companies similar to yours.
Here at SocialSellinator, we rely heavily on a wide range of different tools to help us manage social selling campaigns for our clients. As you can imagine, it becomes quite a pretty complicated task once you are managing dozens of different social accounts across many brands. In truth, what we do wouldn’t be possible without the suite of tools that we use.
Out of the more than ten different tools that we use to manage these campaigns, each tool varies in terms of importance. There are three tools that stand out above the rest, in fact. These three tools are at the forefront of every strategy that we put together, driving our campaigns and helping us to generate positive ROIs for our clients.
If you are looking to put together a stack of social selling tech that will help you manage your campaigns, connect with your most important clients, and create a reliable social presence that will generate you leads for years to come, I recommend starting with these three social selling tools:
1. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is the best social selling tool available today, bar none. No other tool has access to the huge amount of data that LinkedIn has on their hands. Sales Navigator is a $70 per month subscription that drastically extends the platform’s features to include a number of sales tools that help you to identify prospects, make contact with them, and make connections with your target audience.
Truth be told, social selling wouldn’t be nearly as effective for us without LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It is without a doubt the more powerful tool in our arsenal and helps us identify and reach out to clients who fit our ideal client avatar.
Hootsuite is a powerful tool when it comes to managing a range of social accounts across all of the popular platforms. It makes it easy for us to manage different brands and schedule high-impact social posts across all of our accounts. Additionally, since personal conversations are such a big part of social selling, you can use the platform to manage and monitor your conversations across accounts as well.
The deep analytics offered by HootSuite are great for tracking your efforts and seeing how different tactics are working across different social networking platforms. While there are many options out there for social media management, Hootsuite stands above the rest in my opinion.
3. HubSpot CRM
When you’re engaging in conversations with hundreds of prospects across multiple platforms, managing those relationships can become quite that task. HubSpot CRM is the perfect solution. HubSpot might be known for their inbound marketing software, but their customer relationship management tool is available for free, giving you room to grow if you decide to subscribe to the rest of their tools at a later date. HubSpot CRM is free, simple to use, and contains all of the necessary features for tracking your interactions with prospects while giving yourself room to grow in the future.