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Hashtag Marketing: How to Leverage Trending Topics

DATE PUBLISHED: May 19, 2015

If you're unconvinced about the business value of hashtag marketing, look no further than this cool infographic from the Huffington Post. As you'll quickly see, the benefits are obvious. By updating like-minded followers on a specific topic in real-time, brands can:

  • drive brand recognition
  • expand the reach of an advertising campaign
  • impact custom loyalty

But like most things in life, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. Excessive hashtagging drives people crazy. And hashtagging inappropriate or irrelevant events not only wastes time, but it can devalue your brand and alienate your followersTherefore, we'd like to talk a bit about how to effectively leverage one of the more straight-forward elements of hashtag marketing: trending topics.

The Good (and Bad) News About Trending Topics

Marketing around trending topics presents a kind of catch-22 situation. On the one hand, the fact that a topic is trending suggests that you'll reach people who are interested in that topic. On the other hand, the more popular the topic, the more it will be tagged, and the more likely your Tweet will get lost in the shuffle. Nonetheless, it's a risk worth taking. And with that as a caveat, a good first step is to...

  • Brainstorm Topics

Take some time to make a list of trending topics that are relevant to your brand and buyer personas. If you're a solar provider, for example, odds are your followers won't be too interested in, say, the NBA playoffs. However, if you're a sporting goods retail outlet, that would be a great topic — ANY playoff would be a good topic, yes?

  • Research Trending Topics

If there's one problem with the aforementioned brainstorming exercise, it's this: while the activity may surface some popular trending topics, it may also reveal some topics that no one cares about. Therefore, spend most of your time researching the topics that are relevant and can generate the most bang for your buck. For more information on how to research trending topics on Twitter, click here. Once you see the hashtag you like, simply insert the symbol (#) before the keywords or phrase in question. Presto!

Keep It Simple

As previously noted, excessive tagging can cost you. Twitter, for example, recommends no more than two hash tags per tweet, and if Twitter says so, that's good enough for us. What this means, however, is that you'll have to be selective in your tagging. Research indicates that hashtags that are easy to remember generate more engagement than those that are complicated. Therefore select your trending topics with an eye towards simple, short hashtags.

Make the Connection

You may feel tempted to tag a trending topic without making a clear connection to your brand because, well, it's a trending topic, and that alone should be sufficient, right? Wrong. Over time, followers will see it for what it is: a gimmicky shortcut that can erode your brand. Furthermore, though you may find the trending topic to be intuitively relevant to your brand, your followers may feel otherwise. So go the extra step and contextualize the topic in your tweet.

What do you think? Has your brand experimented with hashtag marketing? Has it proved successful? Any other tips you'd like to add?


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