What does the symbol “#” mean to you? For many of those reading (especially the older generation), that’s a pound sign. You used to use it when responding to automated telephone answering services, but probably not for much else. However, for many younger readers (and probably every person born after 2000), that is a hashtag symbol.
Hashtags have become huge in the social media world, especially on Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags are a fairly simple concept to understand. They serve two purposes: A. They allow social media users to all comment on the same event/topic and B. They allow you to find posts related to that event/topic easily. Occasionally, people also use hashtags as a way to emphasize a certain word or thought in a social media post.
So why does this matter to you? Because hashtags present excellent marketing opportunities. Have you ever watched a sporting event, new episode of a show or other live event and noticed a hashtag on the screen? For example, there was quite a hubbub over the (intentionally) ridiculous TV movie “Sharknado” in 2013, and the hashtag #Sharknado was very popular the night it premiered. If a hashtag gains enough traction, it will begin “trending.” That essentially means it’s popular, not that there’s a bunch of pigeons landing on you (follow the link and you’ll get it).
On a computer, Twitter always presents what’s trending in your area in a little box on the left-hand side of the screen. It looks like this:
If you’re on the mobile Twitter app, you can swipe over to the “Discover” tab to see the trends. You can also change the area to see what’s popular in different places (as you can see, mine is set to the whole Unites States).
Since people are generally curious or kind of nosy (isn’t that what the concept of social media is founded on?), it’s fairly common for them to click on trending hashtags and topics to see what people are saying; sometimes, that’s how people find out about the biggest news stories of the day.
What does this mean for you?
Before your eyes glaze over, let me answer the question I’m sure you’re asking yourself: What does this have to do with me? Well, for marketers, hashtags provide a perfect opportunity to shoehorn your business into the conversation. If you find a hashtag that you can relate to your business or content, then you definitely need to do it.
So the next time you see a trending hashtag, consider if there’s some way to connect it your company, your website or your content. Because you should never miss an opportunity to market your business.