While most people are familiar with hashtags, many B2B marketers don’t know the best way to use them or may even consider them irrelevant to their social media strategy. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Hashtags originated on Twitter but have now become widely adopted by all social platforms as a way to tag your content with specific topics or conversations (by using a word or phrase preceded by the “#” symbol). When you use hashtags, anyone who follows or searches for that hashtag can see and interact with the posts you’ve tagged. This means hashtags are instrumental in increasing your reach, for B2C and B2B companies alike.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you develop and implement a hashtag strategy for your B2B firm.
Content creation is important, as is sharing the content on social media, but none of that matters if no one sees it. That’s where hashtags play an important role. They increase your visibility by grouping your content with similar content, so when an interested user searches that hashtag, they may come across your post. However, this doesn’t mean that adding as many hashtags as possible to each post is helpful. Just as your firm has a specific target audience, your hashtags should, too. They need to be purposeful and strategic because the more generic ones are oversaturated with posts. For example, if you are a construction company adding #construction to your Instagram posts, your firm is competing with over 10 million other posts containing that same hashtag. The chances of your post reaching more viewers is small. But if your firm specializes in or is seeking to acquire more work in the Boston area, you might add #BostonConstruction, which has less than four thousand posts on Instagram, to images of your Boston projects. Utilizing more specific, targeted hashtags will not only help your posts reach more people, but the right people.
It’s helpful to be able to picture how your prospects or target audience are using social media—similar to buyer personas—to know how to best tag content. What are their interests? Questions? Pain points? They may search hashtags related to these topics. What hashtags are your clients and prospects interacting with most? Social platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn give users the option to follow a hashtag, which means that posts containing that hashtag will regularly populate in their personal news feed, instead of having to manually search for it to view tagged posts. For example, a financial advisor may follow the hashtag #retirementplanning to keep up with the latest articles, videos, and other posts related to that topic. For a financial services firm, this could be a relevant hashtag to add to your library of frequently used tags.
In addition to understanding how your prospects and clients interact with social media, it’s beneficial to research your competitors. What are they posting about? What hashtags do they frequently use? Which posts of theirs receive high engagement—and which hashtags are included in those posts? While you shouldn’t directly copy their strategy, it’s a good starting point for your own hashtag implementation. Consider the topics that are important to your firm, and then find existing hashtags that encapsulate those ideas.
Another method of research is social listening. Social listening is the process of investigating what others are saying on social media about the topics and keywords that are relevant to your business. Observe your audience’s voice, opinions, and responses, and use this to inform your hashtag strategy. Monitor relevant conversations to identify more hashtags to add to your library and note where your firm can meaningfully contribute to conversations. It will also help keep you up to date with industry trends.
Each social media platform has their own individual function, uses, and audiences, so hashtag practices also differ. Here are some things to consider when using hashtags on specific platforms:
The use of hashtags does not guarantee increased impressions for your posts. And if used incorrectly or excessively, it could decrease engagement. This is why it’s important to track your social analytics to see which hashtags are generating the largest reach and engagement. Each platform has its own analytics section that tracks content performance. Identify hashtags that have generated more impressions or engagement, as well as those that haven’t affected or have negatively affected performance. Look at the hashtags used, how many were used, and the formatting. Remember when using hashtags to mix them up, keep them relevant and limit the number of hashtags used on each post.
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