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How the hashtag can help you engage with your target audience

As many social media users have seen, hashtags are no longer exclusive to Twitter. They have made their way onto platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. The question many people are asking is why? What’s the point of using hashtags, and do they even matter?

Hashtags are an effective way to organise and discover interesting content. There are hashtags out there for everything, making it easy for social media users to find and follow the content most important to them.

Hashtags can be just as powerful when promoting content for your business. Whether you’re sharing a new blog post or attending a conference, incorporating a hashtag increases the odds of your message being found by the right audience – those who find what you have to say relevant and engaging.

However, when using hashtags for business and thought leadership purposes, there are three best practices to keep in mind:

Avoid using too many hashtags
Don’t feel pressured to overuse the hashtag. No one wants to read a post primarily composed of hashtags. It’s overwhelming for the reader, and your message will become lost. Remember, it’s all about quality, not quantity. As a best practice, try to centralise your message around one hashtag. This will demonstrate to your audience that you know what you’re doing and ensure that your message makes its way to the right readers.

Make them concise
People create hashtags for anything and everything. When using a hashtag, keep it short and simple. Using extremely long hashtags might not be the best way to make sure your posts get a lot of click-throughs. Remember, conversations start around hashtags. Concise hashtags (for example, #marketing or #socialmedia) are easy to follow and invite others to join the conversation.

Research is key
When looking for a strong hashtag to use, remember to ‘listen’ on social media. Look to those you follow online – friends, colleagues, experts and thought leaders – and discover what hashtags are prominently used in their content. Also, take the time to click on the actual hashtag hyperlink to see the other content that falls within that hashtag category. Is it content you find relevant? Do you notice posts similar to what your target audience is looking for? If that’s the case, that hashtag might be right for you. Give it a try and keep track of your click rates once you begin using a new hashtag.

Paul Bearman, Senior Editor, Goldmine Media

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