Pity the Fool Who Ignores Mr. T's Hashtag Tips
The hashtag (or as people over the age of 40 call it - "the number or pound sign button on a land-line telephone") was designed to be a type of label or metadata tag that social networking users could use to find messages with specific themes or subjects quickly. It's a bit like "tagging" someone in a photo on Facebook. If you take a selfie with Jan, from Accounting, you add a tag containing her name to the image, so that she can log into her computer that night and undoubtedly find it. When employed correctly by businesses, it's also not just a perfect way to pay attention to the conversations your real customers are having on social media - it also lets you effortlessly steer the conversation to your advantage.
What Is a Hashtag, Anyway?
Think of a hashtag as a keyword designed to be instantly searchable. If you're Mr. T and send a new tweet about that fancy new gold chain you just bought, you might include the hashtag at the end of your message, "#FancyNewChain." That way, anyone on Twitter who may not know you're Mr. T (at which point, they should be pitied thoroughly and vigorously), but has an interest in fancy new chains, can still find and enjoy your message.
For example, if your business is about to launch a new spring promotion, you might want to create a hashtag like "#SpringSavings" and attach it to every message that you send out. When that message gets retweeted, more instances of that #SpringSavings hashtag keep popping up across many sites like Twitter. The more eyeballs there are on #SpringSavings, the more opportunities exist for your business because it is organically 'spreading the word' about your sale. You can also click on that hashtag (or search for it) and see every message to which it has been attached, which allows you to get an indication of the audience's reaction. You can reach back out directly to the potential brand advocates and/or buyers, and start a conversation.
Hashtagging Tips, or: "If it's good enough for Mr. T, it's good enough for Me!"
Paying attention to hashtags on social networking sites like Twitter is also a great way to learn about breaking news items, as they happen. If you are Mr. T logging on Twitter, and you happen to see that #TheMasters is trending, you will most likely think to yourself "I love golf! I had better see what other people are saying!"
"In many ways, hashtagging is the perfect way to cut through all the noise on social media sites and to find the topics that you are passionate about," said Mr. T, both calmly and thoughtfully. "I love clicking on new hashtags that interest me to not only find out more about topics I love, but to discover new and exciting things to see, too - all without having to wade through my main feed to find them."
For a business, this means that your social outreach efforts can get even more timely and relevant. If you see a lot of people talking about a hashtag that is relevant to your audience, you can interject by using it yourself. Then, individuals who search for the first hashtag will see messages from your business, allowing you to get in on a scorching and timely conversation that was already taking place and leverage it to your advantage.