The Hashtag Explosion: Understanding Its Importance for Your Business

Just a few years ago, hashtags were nonexistent. Even online businesses didn't know how to use them. Only a few social media and Internet marketing "geeks" were into them.

Very few thought hashtags would latch on to web surfers and social media users, but they did. And when this began, it exploded--- fast. Businesses caught on, utilizing these hashtags for more efficient online marketing and customer service.  

So if you're still not maximizing the use of hashtags in your own promotional efforts and social media accounts, you're lagging behind and probably missing out on a great method to make the process more effectual.  

What do you need to do? Well, for starters, you've got to understand how it all works and what hashtags are for when it comes to business.  

5 Important Marketing Questions Answered by Hashtags  

To give you a clear idea of the top and most uses of hashtags for marketing, take a look at the common and important questions below that many businesses like yours are concerned about. These can all be answered by--- you guessed it--- hashtags!

1. Where do my target customers "hang out"?  

It's certainly important to find out where your target audience and potential customers hang out in the digital, virtual sphere. In simpler terms, you just want to discover what they are interested in and where you can get in touch with them.

For instance, take a look at the hashtags posted by your existing followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Click on the hashtags so others who have used the same will also turn up. This means that you'll get to check out other people who may be interested in the same things and who may buy from you as well.  

You may also think of or research the possible hashtags that your customers are likely to use. If you are selling luggage, your target audience is likely to be families and groups of friends who enjoy traveling as well as executives and business people who constantly move around from one place to another. Hence, there's a whole range of vacation destinations and international business conferences that you can check out for hashtags! Surely those posting such hashtags for these things will be interested in your selection of products.  

2. How do I monitor customer feedback?

Don't be afraid of customer feedback. On the contrary, seek them out! And one way to do this is through the use of hashtags. Perhaps you can search for your company name and explore those who have included it in their hashtags. This way, you'll know the context of the posts. For example, if you're running a restaurant, you'll see a lot of people "hashtagging" your restaurant name when they dine there. Click on the actual posts to see the accompanying pictures and/or text. As a result, you'll learn more about what people are saying about your business. Use the feedback to improve your products and services.  

Meanwhile, you can also encourage people to use a hashtag you indicate whenever they have something to say about your product. Let's say you have a new collection of shoes called Wind Light Shoes. As you promote the new product, ask customers to let you know what they think of it by using the hashtag #windlightshoesfeedback or #mywindlightshoesexperience. If you ask for feedback and regularly respond, your brand will build genuine trust. You'll also get to strengthen your relationship with customers, which can help turn them into returning and loyal ones.  

3. How can I keep track of campaign participants?

Whenever you launch a campaign, promo, or contest, include the hashtags that you would like participants or customers to use. This way, it will be easier to keep track of who are joining or sharing about it. If you're having a Save Nature Campaign with your eco-friendly products and holding a raffle in relation to those who repost your advertisement, you can ask participants to use the hashtag #savenaturecampaign2014. You may want to also incorporate the shortcut of your company or brand name to make it more specific and ensure that it won't be confused with a similar campaign. 
Promos and contests are very popular in online marketing. Utilize hashtags with them, so as to keep watch on those taking part while growing your own number of likes and followers.

4. Which businesses can I partner with?

Partnering with other businesses who are not your direct competitors but have the same target audience will definitely do wonders for you.  

Let's say you're selling children's clothes, so you're targeting moms. You can then tie up with home décor and children’s apparel/product companies. But how do you look for them? Aside from merely going through a directory list or contacting those you know, it might help to check out hashtags being used by moms. For example, if a mom used #customizedtoddlerbed on her post, click on it and see if there are some that lead you to businesses which offer such a product. Most of the time, partnering with small and medium-sized local businesses that are active on social media can really pay off.  

If you wish to do further research on this, just look at the hashtags that your prospective and existing customers are using. These are bound to lead you to other businesses making use of the same hashtags.

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