Using hashtags to extend your reach on social media [Editors note: *Originally written in 2015, this post was updated in 2021]
I’ve delivered about three or four social media training courses recently, from formal corporate training in London to informal 1-2-1 Skype training with website clients. And certain tips keep coming up. And the more I talk about them and delve into more advanced uses for them, the more I can see how powerful some of these strategies are. I’m talking about hashtags #ofcourse
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is a way of connecting with others around a topic. The best example is to show you “Trending Topics” in Twitter. A sort of leaderboard of the most popular hashtags of the moment.
Hashtags can be used for events, people, religious festivals, online contests. In fact, you can hashtag just about anything. Here’s an example from Instagram. The “Discovery” feature (magnifying glass icon) shows you the top posts and tags. Here’s some examples of localised hashtags…
Using hashtags for prospecting
Now here’s where it gets exciting. When you join a conversation based on a hashtag, such as if we jumped into the #givingtuesday discussion above (or maybe #TipTuesday if you’re a small business owner with useful tips to share), you’re now connecting with a community based around a topic, regardless of whether you’re connected to those people or not. So, on Twitter, if you join in the #hertshour chat on a Monday evening, you’ll chat with other local businesses whether you follow them or they follow you. Can you see the potential of using hashtags?
Using Hashtags To Extend Your Reach On Social Media
Hashtags are a great way to “ride the wave” and find out what the popular topics of the day are. If you’re clever, and can relate these to your business in some way, you’ll get in front of a much wider audience than you would if you were limited to your followers and connections.
How To Find Trending Hashtags
In addition to using the inbuilt Instagram and Twitter trends (and LinkedIn now has a feature to find the most used hashtags too) there are hashtag directories.
One example is Twubs. On Twubs you can search for popular hashtags, register a hashtag and find relevant twitter chats.
Twitter chats are based around a hashtag. For example, I love #hertshour for local Hertfordshire businesses where we chat (network!) on Twitter for an hour. And there are twitter chats for #weddinghour, #divorcehour, #caninehour, and many, many more. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and build your following.
My go to Hashtag tool is Hashtagify.me.
On hashtagify.me you can find the most popular, trending hashtags, based on a keyword search. And, as you can see from the image above, find related popular hashtags. The bigger the bauble the more popular the hashtag. *Note, you can only do a few searches a day for free now (boo!) *
For example, I was researching London Marathon hashtags for a client. We’d used the obvious ones like #londonmarathon but would have missed the most popular one #VLM (Virgin London Marathon) and #VLM2015. Not obvious if you’re not in the know! And another one that came up was #running (a bit more obvious that one!)
Further Hashtag Reading
So I hope this has inspired you to follow hashtag trends, and use hashtags to expand your marketing reach. How are you using hashtags to market your business? Hop over to the MMSpark Facebook page and leave a comment on your use of hashtags.