This blog appeared earlier on DutchCowboys.nl
We already saw it last month in the video of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon: hashtags are not for the normal conversation. But following Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr, Google+ hashtags since May and Facebook since June. And Google will soon also show hashtags results from Google plus in the search results in the Netherlands. (now only in US and Canada from 25 September) Why does every social network throw itself into hashtags?
Used no less than during the last Super Bowl in America half of all advertisers hashtags, in combination with Twitter. The Super Bowl is a world-class event, and it is extremely interesting for advertisers to attract the online conversation. No wonder that Google+ and Facebook soon followed.
Recently compared Josh Grau from Twitter the hashtag with the former campfire, where you tell stories to each other. This comparison is not entirely true: you talk to friends and acquaintances at a campfire rather than to strangers. The hashtag ensures communication about common interests with new people. Hashtags are social ties: people with the same interest, or present at the same event, watching the same program, find each other with a simple click. It is that kind of interaction and involvement that companies look for online with their audience. As a company active on social media, the question is therefore: is it already time for a hashtag strategy?
Hashtags give companies and brands opportunities to facilitate an online conversation, claim a domain and even lead the conversation. Before you start using a new hashtag: investigate whether it is already in use. This way you prevent painful events such as #notguilty. And think carefully before you have hashtags like #susanalbumparty or #Cairo used. It can also happen that an event with the same abbreviation as your event starts soon.
Why would anyone use your hashtag? Without good reason it is just like a wink in the dark: the other does not see it and does not wink back. Do not use general hashtags: they are empty and have no motivation or humor. They convey no emotion and therefore no call to action. Consistently use specific hashtags to create a lasting conversation. In this way you connect your company or brand to a subject that is wider than your company, in a way that is much more sustainable than a campaign.
Keep hashtags relevant and legible. Ask yourself: what is my added value? For example, if you are a hairdresser, give tips and answer questions on your own hashtag: #question Hairdresser # Hairdresser Question #Kappertje. Too many hashtags in a tweet or post are simply ignored, so two or less is really enough. Preferably as part of a sentence. Keep your hashtags short and of course do not use spaces, they will break your hashtag.
You can reward the use of a hashtag, such as Domino's pizza with #letsdolunch on Twitter. Every tweet with this hashtag reduced the price for a standard pizza by 1 cent. Within 2 hours the price plummeted from £ 15.99 to £ 7.74.
Starbucks created extra buzz for their "Treat Receipt" promotion with #Treatreceipt on Facebook and Google+. Customers who showed a receipt in the afternoon for a purchase that morning received a discount. They responded to the warm weather of July with 1TP3 Theatwave.
And currently Heineken uses the combination of #openyourworld and #stad to address people worldwide on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr. (but not on Google+).
Keywords of social media
Hashtags are the keywords of social media on which you will be liked. You only encourage use with relevance and added value. You can respond to existing hashtags, but do it smart. The online conversation that arises puts your brand or company in the spotlight. Now that all social networks support hashtags, it's time for a hashtag strategy. Certainly if Google is also going to put hashtag results of Google+ in the top right of the search results in the Netherlands.
Useful tools to follow Hashtags are:
http://hashonomy.com is a handy hashtag tool but only for Twitter;
http://tagboard.com shows results from different media;
Hoot Suite shows searches on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Use #hashtag strategy to share your insights.