As clichéd as it may sound, hashtag marketing is both an art and a science. It's an art because the hashtags you come up with need to be creative, engaging, and interface with other inbound marketing channels. It's also a science in that research has shown that excessively long hashtags or an excessive amount of hashtags in a single Tweet can sabotage your best intentions.
With that in mind, we'd like to pass along seven ways to be a hashtag marketing artist and scientist (or, in other words, an expert.)
1. Identify your goals and choose wisely. There are a lot of silly yet fun hashtags on Twitter, for example. Does your brand want to be associated with these kinds of topics? Conversely, are you trying to educate your audience? If it’s expertise building you're looking for — which, by the way, is critical from an inbound marketing perspective — then embrace serious and informative hashtags. For example, if you're an auto dealer, #AutoMarketing is a great repository of marketing ideas and tips for the auto industry and dealerships.
2. Remember: engagement is the goal. Make sure your hashtags are used within a proper context with the aim of generating engagement and conversation with followers. After all, if the content is unrelated to the hashtag, followers will know it and lose interest. Worse yet, if this becomes a recurring pattern, Twitter may even suspend your account. (It's called spam.)
3. Contextualize your hashtag. Your hashtag shouldn't be floating around in the ether, but instead, be thematically linked to a larger promotion or to other social media channels. If you're a solar firm having an "end of summer sale," integrate your hashtag marketing into a larger strategy that includes a possible Facebook page, blog posts, or a standalone URL.
4. Embrace the power of restraint. In other words, less is more. Readers rightfully view a tweet with 9 hashtags to be spam-like. Don't just take our word for it. A report by Salesforce found that tweets with one or two hashtags receive 21% higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags.)
5. Keep the hashtag itself brief. In a similar vein, if your hashtag itself is long, it will reduce the amount of space Twitter followers have to comment since the platform, of course, only allows room for 140 characters.
6. Don't reinvent the wheel... By the time you finish reading this sentence, 5,350 new hashtags will have been created on Twitter. OK, we made that up, but hopefully you get the point. There are already tons of useful hashtags already out there and there's no need to duplicate your efforts. But before you piggyback on another hashtag, do your research. Who are the types of people who read those hashtags? Are people contributing good and serious content or just spam?
7...but don't hijack sensitive hashtags. It's a fine line here, but sometimes piggybacking — intentionally or otherwise — on another hashtag can backfire. For example, the baked goods company Entenmann’s used the hashtag #notguilty to promote their low-calorie food options, at the same time that #notguilty was already trending in the wake of the controversial Casey Anthony “Not Guilty” murder verdict. Yikes. Someone didn't do their homework.
What do you think? Has your brand successfully embraced hashtag marketing? What techniques have proven particularly effective? What did we neglect to mention?