Hashtags Open Virtual Doors
If you are a lover of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Tumblr, by now you have surely seen how hashtags help people discover what others are saying about all sorts of topics: breaking news, sporting events, media events, entertainment – you name it! But have you used it to your advantage? Users on these social media platforms assign the hash character (or number sign)
# in front of a word or phrase (no spaces), and place it either before or after the text, so that others searching for that precise topic will view the messages that have been tagged with it. The social buzz gets stronger, particularly when the topics are those that entice other users to join in.
Entertaining and educational online opportunities integrate hashtags as a tracking strategy. “Twitter parties,” for example offer forums for like-minded people to engage in scheduled live chats in which enthusiasts can tune in to real-time discussions and enter to win prizes, and at the same time either build a greater following/awareness or help others drive engagement. Using curated questions and informational tidbits, hosts keep guests engaged and participating, which can bring in people from anywhere (hence, new subscribers)! Other platforms, as well, have unique algorithms that attempt to identify events or topics talked about in high frequency (“trending”) such as Facebook posts about the #GoldenGlobes! Because who doesn’t want to follow what people are saying or wearing (or exposing!) and pipe in with their two cents?
Join in the conversation!
A popular pastime is sharing images, with a brief message (or link) and a few hashtags. Many like to share their fun meals on Foursquare and use a popular hashtag such as #itswhatsfordinner. When contests, campaigns and challenges, media promos invite users to share photos, links and thoughts, they can very successfully generate “earned media,” and in doing so attract the precise audience in their target niche! Brands love seeing their names online, paired with buzz-worthy praises, generating a “virtual army”,!
Some online enthusiasts go batty with hashtags as to gain optimal exposure (you have seen the photos that assign 50 hashtags to the posts), but there is also some strategy that comes to play, in that campaigns want to keep their hashtags to a minimum. Tracking just who and when people spread the buzz and the use the analytics of their honed-in discussions offers media marketers a leg up when directing eyeballs to new content; it’s user-generated marketing at its finest!
Follow event hashtags.
If you are planning on attending a conference or other large event, you’ll for sure want to use one of its pre-assigned hashtags, and in addition search out the hashtags for your favorite keynotes and break-out events or parties that are associated with it. For example, you might want to follow the feeds discussing the MC of the event, but also be a spectator or even a participant in a breakout session discussion! In such a case, you can use two or more hashtags. An app such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to help you engage in multiple conversations.
Become virtually connected!
Once you have experienced being “in the room” and included in conversations regarding things that draw you in organically – beware – you might get “#HashtagFever”. For whatever reason you are unable attend a virtual event in person, you still have time afterward to see what all the buzz was by searching it at your own convenience. Whether you want to participate in a particular brand campaign or read about a current event, new app, phone feature, or live event, get to know the #hashtag – coming to a screen near you!