Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that hashtags are sort of a big deal. You know you need to include them in your social posts to boost your discoverability, and you know all about how people search using hashtags.

But do you know how to maximise their effectiveness in your marketing?

How do hashtags work?

A hashtag is basically just a metadata tag that is used to categorise content. It is used all across social media platforms to make it easy for users to find content about specific topics or ideas.

Here’s an example of hashtags in action on our Twitter page:

As you can see, we’ve used some hashtags that relate to the content of the tweet (#Radio, #LiveAdvertising, #Media), some trending hashtags relating to the context of the tweet (#StayHome, #LockdownMzansi, #WednesdayWisdom), as well as one of our own, branded hashtags (#SkeemaMediaUpdate).

These types of hashtags can be leveraged by brands, ensuring they get maximum exposure. They can also be used to drive long-term traffic and encourage backlinks. But that’s not all they can do.

Here are three types of hashtags you can use for your marketing:

1. Identify trending hashtags

Capitalising on trending hashtags is one of the simplest ways to get your content in front of consumers’ eyes. Just like other types of viral content, trending hashtags are fast-moving, often short-lived and rather unpredictable.

Making the most of these hashtags requires keeping a close eye on the conversations happening on social media and acting fast when a trend begins to emerge.

When correctly timed, the brand exposure and payoff for participating in trending conversations can be astronomical, and the biggest trending conversations often make headlines in the news. 

However, a poorly-timed attempt at engaging with a trending hashtag can make your brand look far worse than by not engaging at all. Plus, using a trending hashtag without knowing the full story behind it — and the reasons it’s trending — can land you in hot water and make your brand look tone deaf.

Engaging in trending conversations is the quickest way to make your brand look contemporary and ‘in the know’ But, if this is a space you want to play in on a regular basis, you’ve got your work cut out for you! One wrong move can be disastrous (and remember — Twitter keeps receipts!).

2. Use unique brand and campaign hashtags

Brand and campaign-specific hashtags are unique to you, and used specifically to market your brand and promotions.

You can use your company name, tagline or a phrase that relates to you or your campaign for this hashtag. Branded hashtags are usually short, memorable and include the brand name in some form.

Do your research to ensure that your chosen hashtag hasn’t been used by another company as you don’t want users to get confused and accidentally associate other content with your brand.

Your brand or campaign hashtags need to be utilised as your main hashtags on an on-going basis. It should apply to any content you post and act as your fallback hashtag to include in a post when you are unsure of which tags to use.

It is vital to use this hashtag regularly, as the goal is to increase brand awareness through the hashtag and encouraging consumers to use it too.

media update side note: We use #SkeemaMediaUpdate as our main hashtag, which relates to all of our original content and social posts.

3. Create content or community-specific hashtags

These types of hashtags relate directly to the content of your social posts, or the people in your community, and are an easy way to highlight keywords, categorise your content and make it more discoverable. 

Unlike your branded hashtags, these won’t be the same ones used in every post — they have to specifically relate to each particular social post.

By adding these hashtags to your content, you allow people to find your posts while searching the topics related to their interests.

While some people use any hashtags to increase the discoverability of their posts, this can actually have a negative effect on business. For example, if you put out a tweet that was about your incredible new SEO offerings, and you included hashtags like ‘#happiness’, ‘#love’ and ‘#summer’, your brand will immediately be seen as garnering for traffic without offering any real value.

However, if you were to use content-specific hashtags, such as ‘#SEO’, ‘#BrandGrowth’ and ‘#MarketingTools’, you are far more likely to have your content seen by the right kind of people — ones looking for content about those exact topics. You’ll also gain a reputation for offering useful content and have your consumer target on point!

Do you think hashtags are an effective means of marketing on social media? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Hashtags are only one part of a successful social media marketing strategy. Check out these Six tips for writing sales copy that actually sells for more insight.