Did you know that 71 percent of social media users regularly make use of hashtags?

We’re always using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to make our Tweets and posts more interesting or amusing for our followers. People are even attaching hashtags to their Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ posts. For a short period, even LinkedIn experimented with hashtags before withdrawing later.

Despite this, there’s much more to hashtags than meets the eye. Rather than some random words to put on an ending of your social media post, they serve an important purpose in online marketing.

When used effectively, they can be used to track your social marketing campaign, raise brand awareness and influence your followers.

But the question remains – what hashtags to use for your marketing campaign? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about using hashtags for your marketing campaign.

What Are Hashtags?

Before we can further explore what hashtags to use, we need to make sure everyone knows exactly what we’re talking about when it comes to hashtags.

Hashtags can be a word, phrase or group of words that follow the ubiquitous # symbol. For instance, #hashtags, #socialmedia or #trending. Another term for hashtags that is less well-known is “metadata tags“.

Basically, anything can be a hashtag. This is why there is so much uncertainty about how to harness the potential of hashtags and what hashtags to use to target particular groups for your marketing campaign.

For users, hashtags offer a way to follow trending topics in real time and also expand your content and feed beyond your friends and the people you follow.

Simply put, hashtags are used to convey a message to your audience. They often reflect a particular concept.

One of the key uses of hashtags is that companies can track promotions and marketing campaigns across their social media platforms by checking out the frequency of use of the hashtag. The more a hashtag is used by users online, the more likely users are engaging with the brand or promotion.

Even though hashtags are most famously associated with Twitter. More recently, Instagram has been a prominent social media platform for using hashtags. However, social media users have increasingly taken to using hashtags across the all the major social media networks.

1. Expand Your Organic Search Reach

One of the most important uses of hashtags is to cut through the noise of a social media platform. There are so many people and companies competing to be heard online, hashtags are a way to stick your head out of the water.

This has become particularly important since Instagram introduced their latest algorithm. The new algorithm means that users can’t find posts through an organic search as easy as before. This has been further complicated by the rise in the popularity of Instagram, which has over 800 million users.

This is where hashtags come in to play. After all, they can act as a great way to categorize your content for Instagram users to find easier. After all, you’re not looking to target everyone on the social media site, but just your target audience.

But it’s also vital that you don’t go crazy with the hashtags. If you start to overdo every post with hashtags, it could result in a so-called “shadow ban“. This is Instagram stops your post from coming up in organic searches. However, it’s important to state that the social network denies this is a policy.

Lucky for you – there’s a solution to optimizing your hashtags on organic searches. See below for what hashtags to use for your marketing campaign to make the most of organic searches on Instagram and Twitter.

1. Be Specific

A useful trick is to use specific hashtags to stand the best chance of reaching your target group.

This means if you want to promote city tours of European cities include hashtags like #europetours #Amsterdamtour and #Pariscitywalks rather than simply #tours. This way your hashtag won’t get drown out by the rest of the content.

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for hashtags, check out the guys at Tweet Binder for creative inspiration.

2. Target Audience

What hashtags to use depends on your audience.

Many unsuccessful marketing campaigns fail in the use of hashtags because they don’t focus on the target audience. Instead, they simply try to gain “likes” and “follows” from social media users. While this is also positive, the goal is to convert “likes” into sales.

3. Check Out the Competition

One of the best things about hashtags is that you can easily check up on your competition and your followers.

What hashtags to use depends on what other people are using. If you know what hashtags they’re using and which ones are effective, then you can adopt these hashtags to promote your own marketing campaigns.

2. Making Use of Branded Hashtags

Branded hashtags should be one of the cornerstones of your online marketing campaigns.

So, what are branded hashtags?

They are simply when you use the name of your brand in the hashtag. Therefore, what hashtags to use should be determined by the name of your brand. For instance, the sportswear company Nike uses #nike or whereas the drinks company PepsiCo uses #pepsi to promote their respective brands.

You could use hashtags to promote a company slogan like Coca Cola’s #ShareACoke or the President Barrack Obama election campaign from 2008 #YesWeCan.

You could also include the name of a product. But what hashtags to use depends on how specific you want to be about the product.

For example, Mcdonald’s uses #BigMac which is an exclusive product to them. However, Starbucks Coffee use the more general term #flatwhite to promote what they sell.

This is a great way to promote your marketing campaign through hashtags. Not only does this allow you track the performance of your marketing campaign by monitoring the use of the hashtag.

But it also encourages users to share your content on their social media accounts. This means every time they share one of your branded hashtags, your social media presence gets a boost.

Always remember to make sure you come up with an original hashtag or slogan. You don’t want to find that your hashtag already exists. It could direct users to a different company or be associated with something that damages your brand.

3. Participant in Trending Topics

Trending topics are subjects that are being widely discussed and shared across social media platforms. Your marketing campaign can benefit by participating in the conversation around popular subjects. By joining trending topics you could engage with an incredible number of social media users.

By making use of trending topics, you could expose your Tweets or posts to a massive audience. This could be a great opportunity to generate new leads and raise brand awareness.

You can simply join a conversation that’s happening on social media. This could be an important news story, or, mention a national holiday such as Easter or Christmas. But it mostly helps if you can make it relevant to your business or product.

But what hashtags to use when it comes to trending topics?

First of all, you need to find out what’s trending. You can do this by checking out the sidebar on Twitter or the news feed on Instagram.

But if you’re really struggling to discover what’s trending, then check out this website for the trending hashtags in real time.

To some extent, jumping on the back of trending topics can be a waiting game. It’s all about patience. You have to keep your eye out for one a trending topic in your genre, industry or niche emerges, you have to take advantage immediately.

For instance, if you’re in the business of selling wooly hats and scarfs. When it starts snowing, this is the sign that it’s your time to shine.

Think carefully about what hashtags to use at different times. Just make sure you use the right hashtags to benefit from the situation. This could be hashtags such as – #winter #wooly #hats #scarfs #wrapupwarm to take advantage of the wintry weather.

However, you might not be so lucky with the trends that emerge. This means you have to look for an alternative strategy if the trending topics are a bit of a stretch from your theme. If this is the case, then you might want to make your products or services to fit the trends of the time.

4. Set up Competitions

Another great way to engage your target group through hashtags is by setting up competitions for your followers on social media.

People like to compete against each other for the chance to win something. These are especially popular if there’s freebies or giveaways to win or even a cash prize.

However, rather than one big prize, you’re more likely to boost engagement if you offer your followers many smaller prizes. This way they believe they have a better chance of winning something than if it’s a one in million chance.

Social media users can enter the competition through user-generated content by using a particular hashtag. This can do wonders for your brand awareness. However, you don’t always need a prize to run a successful contest.

But what hashtags to use for contests?

Make it fun and exciting. Social media users often get involved in competition just for the fun of it. Take the example of the drinks company Red Bull’s #PutACanOnIt marketing campaign.

The campaign urged users to post photos of Red Bull cans being placed in front of backgrounds to create amusing pictures. And of course, users also had to include the hashtag #PutACanOnIt. The reward for the best ones was that they would be featured on the company website.

This way you sit back and let the social media users do all the work for you. You could do the same with your marketing campaign. After this, you can let the users take care of your brand awareness for you.

5. Raise Awareness of a Subject

You don’t always have to wait for a trending topic to come along that matches with your brand or products. Instead, you can you promote an important subject yourself.

This way you don’t just promote your brand but also a cause or subject that matters to people. Even if you’re not the initiator of the subject, you can always jump on the back of the bandwagon.

Probably the most successful example of this is the #IceBucketChallenge campaign which raised millions of dollars for the ALS Association while also raising awareness of an important topic.

Celebrities, brands, and corporations all got involved in the social media phenomenon. Sometimes what hashtags to use isn’t the most important factor in the success of a viral post. What clinched success for the hashtag was the urge to “tag your friends” at the end of each post.

6. Community Building

Building a brand is not too different from building a community. After all, it’s an idea that a group of people believes in passionately.

That’s why you can also work to build a community of social media users through the use of hashtags. If you effectively tap into the right hashtag at the right time, people will start posting and sharing the hashtag. This allows users to connect and share content with each other.

By bringing people together through hashtags, you connect people with shared values, beliefs and interests. This also can boost awareness of your business and brand among likeminded people.

This is exactly what President Obama successfully achieved. His campaigns simple answer to the question of what hashtags to use was the iconic #YesWeCan election campaign slogan and hashtag.

What Hashtags to Use For Your Marketing Campaign

As we’ve shown in this blog post, there are many ways you can use hashtags to generate results for your business.

While there’s no clear answer to what hashtags to use in your marketing campaign since it depends on many factors, with the tips in this article you have the tools to use hashtags effectively.

We can help you develop your online marketing campaign to improve your business performance.

Think your website should be generating more leads and paying customers? Get in touch with us today to find out what we can do for your business.