The Prospects of using Hashtags in Online Marketing (Part 2)

In last week’s blog post, we discussed the various prospects of hashtags and the uses they have been put to by marketers and individuals on social media. We mentioned that these included awareness creation, starting conversations, expressing sentiments, and organizing events. Let us continue today by analyzing their role in grouping content, prospecting for new clients, monitoring and building community.

Using the hashtag for grouping content
In 2007, Chris Messina, a developer at Google and an early Twitter adopter successfully pitched the pound (#) symbol to other Twitter users as a way to organize messages into meaningful groups. on the social media site. Since then, hashtags have grown to be embraced by Social Media networks and users worldwide as a way to classify the frantic/frenzied exchange of thoughts and information on social networking sites. Search results of a hashtag (on social media platforms that support hashtags) will reveal related content associated with it. Marketers can take advantage of this aspect of hashtags to group messages, images, content, and video into categories. Their followers can simply search for hashtags on certain subjects and get the relevant content in relation to them.

In the example below (Figure 1), an American writer discovers a Ghanaian personal branding coach through his (the Ghanaians) use of the #personalbranding tag to group his content on Instagram. This results in a partnership between the two. She also speaks about other benefits this hashtag has brought her including an out-of-state speaking engagement, two major clients and a webinar appearance.

#grouping

Figure 1A portion of the write-up on Olivia Omega’s blog
“Several weeks ago, I came across a gentleman by the name of Bernard Kelvin Clive via Instagram (the strategic use of the #personalbranding hashtag alone has produced an out-of-state speaking engagement, two major clients, a webinar gig, this international interview and more…just saying).”- Olivia Omega http://laughlivlove.com/2014/06/

Let me share another instance where hashtags are used in grouping content on social media. Kafui Dey, a renowned Ghanaian MC launched his book recently. Across the social media platforms he is active on, all content for his book ‘How to MC any event’ are tagged #HowToMCAnyEvent. See figure 2, 3 & 4. These examples show the tag #HowToMCAnyEvent used in a discussion, used to share tips on the topic and also used to provide information on locations where the book is available.

 

#howtomcanyevent0

Figure 2#HowToMCAnyEvent is used by a celebrity to endorse the book on Twitter

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Figure 3 – Kafui shares a tip on Instagram

#fbkafuidei

Figure 4 – A link for online purchases of the book is shared on Facebook with the same hashtag.

 

The hashtag as a Prospecting tool
Hashtags can be used for prospecting new clients. When marketing on social media, it is important to have conversations with the right audience. Hashtags have the capability of putting a prospective audience in front of a marketer. Most social media platforms offer the chance to search for hashtags. This helps the marketer to filter conversations and content so that they can find discussions and thoughts/content they can add to. This is a good way to position their brand in the minds of their targets.

#prospecting

Figure 5 – An example of prospecting with a hashtag
In this example, a South African retailer, Urban Hilton Weiner, gave visitors to their store a $10 coupon if they tweeted a selfie of themselves trying on some clothes and used the hashtag #urbanselfie. This campaign got more people in the store, trying on clothes, and sharing their outfits with their social network.
Source: http://www.postano.com/blog/13-best-social-media-campaigns-of-2013

 

The hashtag as a monitoring tool
By searching for a relevant hashtag the marketer can monitor what people are saying about his brand, competitors and the brands environment as a whole e.g. people tweeting #socialmedia. This is also a way to identify and target specific users who have influence on social media or are passionate about your brand. Such people can then be followed and closely monitored.
There is a probability that people are talking about your service online regardless of the size of your business. One of the ways to make the most of your social media presence is to listen to what your audience has to say about you, analysing the data and, finally, attaining some form of social media business intelligence.

Tracking and monitoring conversations in your environment and about the brand itself affords the marketer to easily identify common customer service issues, the response to new marketing campaigns, or feedback about your latest product launch. All these insights help the marketer to know the customers better and improve his/her marketing strategy.

Monitoring hashtags is a great way to get in on a conversation on Twitter, whether it is a trending topic or a few tweets per day. Online marketers can use the hashtag for monitoring their environment, monitoring their market, monitoring customers and monitoring their competition. Some companies use hashtags to keep up with their competitors’ marketing, learning what does generate and does not generate interest.

The hashtag is a great way for marketers to keep up with their customers by finding out what they are talking about. Another way is to track topics which trend, see how they affect your customers and brand and see how you may join in and be of value. Your hashtags will also give you feedback in conversation. Use the hashtag to listen in on ongoing conversations about specific and relevant topics with hashtags.

 

Figure 6 – a snapshot of search results for #Ghanaianfashionista on Instagram.
A search on Instagram with the tag #Ghanaianfashionista reveals over 500 posts under that title. How can a Ghanaian fashion label capitalize on such a search singling out fashionistas in Ghana?

A site like http://www.socialmention.com allows you to track and measure mention involving your brand, product etc or any topic across all social media platforms in real time.

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The hashtag in Community building
Using Hashtags is an easy way for people to connect and join conversations online and become part of communities online. Hashtags have really socialized the internet by creating temporary, mini-communities around various conversation topics. For example, in as much as the #AskScandal hashtag is to generate engagement in the form of conversation around the TV show, it is also a gathering of the Scandal TV series watching community. A hashtag can create a congregation of like – minded people, with a common interest.

Marketers can use hashtags to build, connect and communicate with their loyal followers in a community. Hashtags allow social media users to find and “follow” (subscribe) or “list” (organize into public contact lists) other users of similar interest. Popular hashtags enjoy devout followers. Previous examples have highlighted the popularity of #BringBackTheGirls and the community which has grown overnight around it (figure 7).

#community

Figure 7 – A community grows around the #BringBackOurGirls and its spin off #RealMenDontBuyGirls as people share photos of themselves holding up these signs.

Another case in point is the description New York University gives their #NYU (hashtagNYU) ‘As we transcend the traditional limitations of communities organized within geographical barriers — think classroom walls, campus gates, and national borders — we aim to provide a space that further develops and transforms the global NYU community.’
Source: http://www.nyu.edu/life/student-life/hashtagNYU.html

Are you using hashtags in your marketing? Do you have any classic examples of how hashtags have been put to use? You can share these with the tag #BeInspiredGH on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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