If you’re like me, you’re not really a big fan of hashtags. Thinking about it though, I realized hashtags aren’t all bad. It’s really just distressing how they’re used. I’ve already written about that here… So, counter to my last hashtag post, here are 4 ways you can use hashtags for online influence, aka, 4 ways hashtags are actually not terrible.

One. Topics in a Group: Build Community

I’m part of a large group on Facebook. Large, like, there are more than 2,000 members. Just try keeping up with all those posts; I dare you. In order to get to know each other better one woman started these #fivethings questions. Each day, she creates a post inviting you to list #fivethings in the comments. For example: 5 favorite snack foods, 5 favorite movies, 5 things you’re doing today. Include the hashtag in the post and people can search for it each day to respond!

This is a great way to build community online.

Two. Business Analysis

Last year, Nielsen (yes, the TV ratings company that you either love or hate, depending on which shows you watch) changed how they measure ratings. Mainly, they now include Twitter chatter about what’s on TV. The more followers you have, the more influence you have, and therefore the more Nielsen includes your opinion in their rankings.

And what’s a good way to get involved in the conversation? Use the hashtag that so often now shows up in the bottom right corner of your TV screen while you’re watching.

This also allows shows and networks to know how into their show you are. What did you like, and what didn’t you like? If you are pretty ambivalent you probably aren’t talking about it online…but you can analyze what people are talking about in many different ways.

What does that mean for us normal people? Getting involved in the conversation can make a difference, for one. But you can also use this strategy through a business account. Create a hashtag and use it everywhere–how many people are joining in on the conversation, and what do they have to say about you and your products?

Trends

Three. Finding Places to Engage

A great way to expand your reach online is to insert yourself into the conversation.

For example, if your market is in aviation, you can start following people in the industry and hope they follow you back. Wallah! Followers! …that don’t engage and may unfollow in 1-24 business hours.

You can also become part of the conversation on certain topics on social networks. If you’re in aviation, you can hashtag words like aviation, planes, fly, travel, captain, pilot, and any other number of things depending on the post (pick one or two, not 10 please). Your post now shows up when anyone searches for a topic they’re interested in.

Or, search for the hashtag and join in the conversation. I recently made a comment about “my dog” on Twitter, and Purina commented asking how old my “friend” was and wished me a wonderful weekend with him. Well, that probably didn’t happen…but still, now I know Purina has a Twitter account. I went to check out their profile to see if it was something I thought was worth following.

Four. Gaining Attention Through Trends

It’s easy to find out what’s trending on Twitter. They’ve got a whole section on the site and in the app. Same with Instagram. On Facebook you have to see what pops up in your feed, but you can find it.

Make time to check in and see what’s trending. Is there a topic you or your business relates to? If you’re in media, maybe you tweet about the Oscars. Or, when in Sports, join in on the latest big game of the week. Celebrity news, world news, and humor like “#RemoveALetterRuinABand” are also popular trends. People like to search these topics and retweet or share those they find interesting, funny, or meaningful.

A couple final thoughts…

Hashtags on Facebook are weird. There, I said it. Twitter, perfectly normal. Instagram, not too bad. Pinterest and Tumblr…they’re okay. I never use hashtags there. Remember my last hashtag post…don’t suck at them! Be kind to the hashtag…and your friends.

The key to marketing like this is still to give out great content. You can do all of the above and not grow your networks at all. But if you create quality, interesting content…when you join in the conversation, people will take notice of you and decide you’re worth following and engaging with.

What are some ways that you use hashtags?

July 21, 2014

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