We’re gonna be real here: when we think of the word hashtag, we sometimes think of a hash brown—or our phone number from 1985.
But who would’ve guessed twenty years ago that so much of our information would be communicated by the pound sign?!
Small business digital marketing strategy can take a lot of forms. But something we’ve found is that many of our clients haven’t tapped into the amazing resource that is the hashtag for small business. You can use it to search for specific discussion topics, draw people to your business, and even brand yourself with a few simple characters. Ready to get started?!
We’re pretty sure that most of our audience is familiar with what a hashtag is. But in case you’re still wondering, it’s simply a symbol (the pound sign) added in front of a word or phrase that makes searching for content easier. Whether you’re trying to get your business found, or you’re searching for something super specific, hashtags for small business just “tag” the things that are of interest to audience groups.
So many people are searching for products and services on social media these days that it seems almost criminal for small businesses not to use hashtags. But like any digital marketing strategy, there’s more to it than just adding a symbol to a word.
When deciding how to tag your posts, you need clearly defined goals. Let’s whittle it down with a few questions:
- Are you trying to start or participate in ongoing digital conversations?
- Do you want your content to be more discoverable?
- Do you want to “brand” a hashtag (make one synonmous with your business, like #teamwaywardkind)?
- Are you creating a promotion or contest with your hashtag?
Of course, there are tons of other questions, but answering these essentials can help you decide how to strategize hashtags for small business.
If you’re creating a branded hashtag, you know that you need a phrase unique to your business, or just use your business name. If you want to get found, you’ll need to do some digital digging for what hashtags are associated with your offerings. Whatever the case, it’s important to know why you’re dropping hashtags.
Now that you’re all intentional about it, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of how to use them.
If you’re trying to get in the conversation and increase audience engagement using hashtags for small business, the first thing you need to do is research. Hootsuite says to start by looking at what hashtags influencers use. Influencers are people that already have a strong presence in your brand’s niche. Check out what hashtags they use and for what posts to get an idea of what your target audience is searching for and talking about.
After seeing what the cool kids are doing, you can get a bit more analytical. Like keyword research tools, there are hashtag research tools. They make it easier to plan your posts, narrow down the most relevant hashtags, receive suggestions for hashtags, and get all the juicy analytics. Yes, this whole hashtag thing can get as detailed and scientific as you want.
Remember, this isn’t about becoming #instafamous—it’s about getting found and having meaningful conversations. It’s about discovering what matters to your audience. And you don’t need to have a million followers to do that—you just need to be curious and diligent.
From a Hashtag to a Conversation
Obviously, we’re big fans of good digital conversations. So we’re all about finding creative ways to start those conversations. If you want to increase audience engagement on your social media platforms, look no further than the humble hashtag for small business.
Let’s say you’re a realtor and you want to start using hashtags on Instagram. Great! But, it’s not as simple as just putting #realtor #realestate #realestateagent. Just like using long-tail keywords for SEO, you need to be specific with your hashtags. Of course, there’s a balance—you still want it to be a hashtag that someone would search. So, maybe don’t use #mostawesomehouseeverforsaleincalifornia. Probably not going to get that one found.
For example, if you’re a realtor in La Jolla, CA, who wants to increase engagement, use #lajollarealtor instead of just #realtor. With this small change, someone searching will get 2,423 results instead of 10,126,099. The chances of someone finding your business among 10 million hashtags is almost zero.
One way to really get the most bang for your hashtag-for-small-business buck is to stay on top of what’s trending. That could be a brand similar to yours, or it could be an event (think weather event, conference, concert, etc.).
If you find that a similar brand is using a hashtag a lot, get in the conversation and start adding it to your posts. Or, consider what’s going on in your neighborhood or region. In 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts tapped into hashtags being used to reference blizzards happening in the Northeast. They saw what was trending and then invited customers to tag Dunkin’ Donuts in their blizzard posts. All from simply noticing what was going on around social media.
By doing this, you show your audience that you’re listening and that you want to engage with them. This makes them feel seen and valued and like they’re a part of your brand—not just on the outside of it.
Not exactly like the letters on the butt of a cow, but similar. You want to tag what’s yours.
These days, many brands are getting the word out by creating their own branded hashtag. Branded hashtags for small business are something like our #letsgetwayward. While it could simply be your brand or business name, you can also make it more actionable while including a branded element (like “Wayward”). You may even have a few branded hashtags that can be used on any social media post.
Once you create your own branded hashtag, you can start adding it to comments, or invite your audience to tag your brand in their posts. Start the trend going, get your name out there, and get people talking about your business.
Not All Hashtags Are Created Equal
Hashtags for small business are useful on all social media platforms, but their efficacy changes from one platform to another.
For example, hashtags are most effective on Twitter and Facebook when limited to 1 or 2 hashtags. But on Instagram, it’s better to use around 10. This all comes down to engagement. Instagram engagement is better with more hashtags, and Twitter is better with fewer.
These are important factors to consider in strategizing hashtag use. On Instagram, you have more opportunities to include relevant hashtags. On Twitter and Facebook, you need to be more discerning and really hone in on the most important hashtags.
And don’t forget about LinkedIn! Hashtags are newer to LinkedIn, but their function is the same—users can search based on keywords and hashtags. But, since LinkedIn caters to a more professional market, you’ll want to create and use hashtags that are more straightforward. That means leaving behind silly nicknames and memes and opting for something a bit more buttoned up.
Not sure about you, but we somehow feel way cooler when we’ve got some hashtags to back up our digital marketing game. But as cool as they are, they also serve an important purpose in personalizing your digital marketing strategy and getting the right eyes on your business.
Setting out to find the proverbial hashtag needle in the haystack does take work, which is why it may be helpful to tap into some expert help, like our team at Wayward Kind. We specialize in the analyzing and strategizing so that you don’t have to. Want to get in the hashtag for small business game? Contact us today!