29 Mar 2016, 10:39 — 7 min read
Hashtags are ‘in’ these days. People who use it are cool, interesting and up-to-date. At least, this is what they think. We often come across different posts on social media sites, especially Facebook and Instagram, like ‘#sister #wedding #goodtimes #best #friends #forever’ which really doesn’t make any sense. The problem is, people don’t know how and why to use hashtags. Honestly, the people on Twitter, also known as the ‘tweeples’ or ‘tweeps’ are the ones who really know how to use hashtags. The most asked questions are: Why are hashtags important and why should you use them? But the most important question is: How you can you use hashtags for your career and business growth?
As more and more companies are getting involved with social media and are using that space to reach a larger audience, proper marketing (in this case, apt usage of hashtags) can help your business develop, grow and above all, reach the target audience.
There is a whole lot of difference between the quality and quantity of your audience when you choose to use hashtags. Using hashtags will lead to a focused and a larger audience. This is because, when you don’t use hashtags, your followers are the only people who see your photographs, but when you use proper hashtags, it is easier for everyone to find you when they are searching for something you do. Say, for instance, you are a wedding photographer, who owns a Facebook page and an Instagram account and you use them to promote your business. If you have hashtagged all your beach wedding photographs with a correct hashtag ‘#beachwedding’ it would be easier for them to find you. All they have to do is search for ‘#beachwedding’ and they can see all the beach wedding photographs from different wedding photographer all together and compare and contrast the work. This helps them to find their perfect fit and makes it easier to find you. On the contrary, if you have not hashtagged your photographs people will never find you despite your good work and efforts.
Organise & Categorise
A few years ago, when everything was on paper, (and not as digitised as it is today) people would categorise things and keep all the similar things together at one place. Now, that everything is on our computers, phones and social media accounts, it is difficult to keep everything together in one place. Enter hashtags and the (online) world is organised again. Let’s continue with the example of the wedding photographer, say someone is planning a beach wedding, and they are looking for some experienced photographer. Using the correct kind of hashtags will help you find a category of photographs at once so that you can revisit the ideas that you earlier had or take them as an inspiration to make them better. What is important to learn here is which words to hashtag and where to use them. We think the best method to do that, is to write a sentence and hashtag the important words, for example, ‘#Sunset at #Udaipur the #CityOfLakes’ or “The #BeautifulBride at #Mandu #Destinationwedding’.
Remember, that there is no point in hashtagging words like ‘at’, ‘the’, ‘on’ etc, because neither you nor anyone else looks up those words. Though it might sound obvious, many people have committed this grave mistake in the past.
There is a huge misconception that only photographers can use photos and hashtags to attract audience and generate traffic. The fact is, no matter who you are, what you do, where your business is located and how small it is, social media marketing and hashtags will help your business grow by attracting traffic. Let’s say that you are a beauty blogger, who reviews beauty products, shares makeup ideas, guides people to dress up better, etc. You can actually benefit a lot out of social media with some proper hashtags. If you have come up with a brilliant hairstyle or a great way to drape a scarf or have reviewed the latest eyeshadow palette in the market, only posting a photograph on a social media site won’t lead you anywhere. But if you hashtag it with ‘#Springhairstyle’, ‘#scrafdrapping’ or ‘#beautyproductreview’ you will attract more relevant traffic to your posts. Another great advantage of using hashtags is that once the audience has reached your post, they often checkout your other work, if they are interested in similar posts. And thus, you win yourself a new subscriber, which means more views and even more shares.
We often hear that it is easier to reach the top, what is difficult is to stay at the top. You have become a pro hashtagger now and have attracted enough traffic to your business, what next? Now, it is important that you keep your audience interested and keep your posts unique so that it is easier to find you in an ocean of posts. For this purpose, you should create unique and business specific hashtags.
Say you are a travel blogger, who takes trips around the world and narrate interesting stories from your journey on your blog, share what people should do when they visit different parts of the world and what they can pass. You should make a hashtag that is dedicated to your business, which has, may be, your company’s, or your blog’s name in the hashtag.
Mix & Match
Once you have attracted enough traffic, have a large number of audience and have started using unique hashtags, to set yourself apart from the general trend, don’t stop using the hashtags that brought you here, i.e. the general hashtags. Of course, business specific hashtags will get you dedicated audience, but the general hashtags will keep you in the game. There are still people in the world, who don’t know you and might be interested in your work, but they won’t find you because they don’t know that you exist. Yes, you and your business have grown now and you have a large audience, but having more audience never hurts, rather it marginally adds to your revenue. Now, if you are a food blogger, who helps people find the perfect restaurant for the choice of their cuisine in different cities, using the general hashtags like ‘#Bombayfoodie’ along with your unique hashtag like ‘#Ivysfavouriteflavours’ will help you to reach a larger audience.
All in all, hashtagging is easy, it's fun and above all is a time-tested method to attract an audience to your posts on social media, and more audience often leads to a better-growing business. If you are new to hashtagging but want to benefit most out of it, look for the hashtags that are already being commonly used to get into the stream, make a note of all the relevant hashtags and use them as much as you can.
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By Varun Bhagat