What is a #Hashtag And Why Twitter is Important To Your Business
Hashtags are an important way for builders, landscapers, architects and interior designers to reach an audience by narrowing the billions of people using social media down to just those prospects who are interested in your services.
Let’s take a look at the history and use of hashtag’s within social media sites as a marketing tool for your business.
First, The History of Hashtags on Twitter
Hashtag’s, in some form, have been around since the early days of the Internet. They were first used to label groups or a general topic within the IRC networks. The first “official” use of the term hashtag was in a blog post written about Twitter in 2007. The hashtag’s popularity tracks closely with the rise in popularity of Twitter.
Twitter began to hyperlink all hashtags in 2009. Hyperlinking allowed the first true search parameter for trending topics on the microblog. Today, while the hashtag is still king on Twitter more social networking sites like Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and Facebook are adopting the hashtag protocol.
What Exactly is a Hashtag and How is it Used?
A hashtag is a pound sign or number symbol that's used in combination with a word or phrase to search a topic or gather Twitter users around a single idea. Twitter’s functionality as a marketing tool revolves around the use and understanding of the hashtag. In recent years, Twitter use has exploded. It has been around only seven years, and it’s already surpassing the fabulous mark of over 500 million tweets per day! Hashtags are one way to get your built environment services noticed on Twitter. When posting on Twitter always include a hashtag. Start with commonly searched terms like #Architecture #InteriorDesign #KitchenRemodel #Houzz.
So what exactly is a hashtag? The simplest explanation is that a hashtag sets up a public discussion group on Twitter. Using the #hashtag symbol followed by a descriptive word or combination of words and symbols will link to a page displaying all other tweets that include the same tag. To put it even more simply, if you tweet, “I love #Houzz, you can now click on #Houzz and see everyone else who tweeted using the hashtag #Houzz.
Hashtags are helpful as a marketing tool on many different levels. First, it’s an easy way to search out topics of interest and become involved in specific discussions about that subject. Hashtags also increase the likelihood that your message will be retweeted or forwarded by others to their social networks, increasing your message’s reach.
As a brand development tool, hashtags are outstanding. They allow you to establish reliability for your messages and give readers an opportunity to find you and see your trail of information. Hashtags are a great way to organize content. For example, during an event, say a trade show, tweet up or conference, a unique hashtag allows people attending a forum to actively discuss your event in real time. If you were speaking on Green Building at the Boston Society of Architects event Architects Boston Expo as an example, you might include a hashtag on your slides like #ABX-GreenBuild. Creating and promoting a unique hashtag is a powerful marketing tool.
Hashtag Best Practices
Hashtag use is easy to abuse. Overuse or incorrect use can make your tags meaningless. So how do you effectively use the hashtag as a promotional and marketing tool? Here are a few tips:
- Keep It Simple – Use terms that are simple and descriptive. If you’re promoting an event called “Harvest Days” make your hashtag, #harvestdays. Make it easy for your guests to find and engage with your event and with each other.
- Use Restraint! – Twitter is all about quality, not quantity. Try to limit your use to one or two descriptive tags when promoting your brand or event. Overuse can come off as spammy and intrusive, the exact opposite of what you’re looking for when initiating a social media marketing push.
- Do Your Research – Hashtags are most effective when they are unique. Before you commit, go to the sites you’re planning to promote on and type in your hashtag to see if it’s already being used. If you’re sharing a descriptive tag with another group, it may negatively impact your ability to accurately track its usage. If you’re using a hashtag to promote an event, make sure it’s truly unique so you can be sure that any conversations being shown are solely yours.
While Twitter is still the predominant platform for using hashtags, other sites have adopted the format. Be smart and know how the site you are using treats hashtag usage. Like Twitter, some sites have strict character limits. That means the longer your hashtag, the fewer characters available for your message.
Also, not all sites treat hashtags favorably. Facebook, for example, has not worked out all of the bugs within the site. Hashtags can have virtually no impact on the ability to find and organize your message. In some instances on Facebook, using hashtag can have a negative effect on your post so for now, it’s best to avoid using them. Research and keep up to date with your information.
Understanding hashtags and how to use them can increase the effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts. Try creating one for your next event or product launch and you’ll get more interest, buzz and sales for your effort!
About Michael Conway
I'm the owner and strategist at Means-of-Production. My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one marketing tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition.