Hashtags: love them, hate them…or have no idea what they are. The fact is that today, hashtags are all over the place – on social media, in commercials and even in colloquial speech. If you are confused by the use of hashtags or don’t think they are relevant to your social media marketing strategy, this one’s for you.

What Are Hashtags, Anyway?

The hashtag craze really took off back in 2007 when Twitter began using the pound symbol to tag or label groups. Today, hashtags are used on other popular social media sites as well, like Instagram and Facebook. Social media sites let users search for specific hashtags or view other posts that used the same hashtag as a post they are interested in. Individuals and businesses alike have found many effective uses for this once humble symbol.

How is the Use of Hashtags Important to Your Franchise?

Attention hashtag novices: using hashtags strategically can truly be an effective way to improve your social media marketing. How? Hashtags are a completely free way to increase your audience reach online. Using relevant and popular hashtags can help get more people to see your brand and, potentially, use your franchise. You can also use hashtags to promote specials, events and new campaigns. For example, we recently used the hashtag #mvpsub to promote Planet Sub’s March Madness social media campaign.

Tips on using hashtags

Using Hashtags Effectively

Do Your Research

It’s a mistake to simply pick a hashtag phrase and publish it with a social media post before doing any research. You should always perform a simple search before using a new hashtag phrase to find out what other people are already using it for. A hashtag that seems completely relevant and appropriate for what you want to post may already have been used for something completely different, and possibly very inappropriate. Doing a little research will keep you from making an embarrassing hashtag faux pas.

Additionally, you should do research to find a hashtag that is trending and see if you can use that to your advantage. There’s no point in using a hashtag in a post if no one will see it.

Keep Hashtags Short & Sweet

Don’t #usehashtagsforeverysingleword. Long-winded hashtags and using hashtags on too many words per post is annoying and it won’t help your business. A good rule of thumb is to use hashtags for only one or two words per post. While a smart use of hashtags can double engagement on your posts, using more than two hashtags in one post tends to drop engagement by 17%.

Use Them to Your Advantage

Use hashtags to promote a #contest or #sweepstakes, either franchise-wide or for a specific location. You may be able to attract a wider range of consumers who are already searching for contests or sweepstakes to enter online. You can also use a trending hashtag to help bring attention to your business, or use a completely unique hashtag in a marketing campaign. Take Coca Cola’s #ShareaCoke campaign as a successful example of hashtags done right.

So, How Will You #Hashtag?

When done right, using hashtags can transform your social media marketing strategy. Call the online marketing experts at TTP today to get started.