As of Q2 2017, the micro blogging platform averaged 328 million monthly active users. That's about four times the population of Germany. Or 8x the population of Argentina. Or 32x the population of Portugal.
See my point? Not everyone on Twitter is interested in you and your products.
How do businesses effectively segment their audience; and reach out and market their products to the right person on Twitter?
Enter Twitter Hashtag (#)
The humble yet powerful Twitter Hashtag (#) help connect businesses to consumers by grouping specific trends or subjects. This means that you can reach out and market products to the correct target market.
By sharing content and effectively using hashtags on Twitter, you can achieve marketing and branding goals for your organization at little to no cost.
Before we delve deeper into this, it’s vital to remember that as a business, your method of using Twitter would be different from the average consumer. Make sure you have a plan and that it defines clear goals for your business!
Also, according to Pankaj Narang, Founder of Socialert, it’s often unproductive to engage agencies who are paid to get hashtags trending. This often results in getting a report without any solid leads to profit generation. Instead, consider building your marketing campaigns carefully on your own and watching them grow organically by taking into consideration the real needs of your customers coupled with the strengths of your company and products.
It also helps to co-ordinate your social media plans as part of a larger marketing strategy. Your plans should be constructed with an aim towards achieving overall business objectives. This might sound a little complicated, but here we’ll share with you a couple of tips on hashtag marketing that will help you out.
This is no different on Twitter, since you’re competing with masses of other businesses there as well. By creating quality content that truly relates and is of interest to your target market, you will have much better results than the competition.
In terms of hashtag marketing, this falls into a few distinct areas for you to focus on:
Event-based hashtags are tied directly into something that’s happening, which means that the lifeline is short and focused. Take for example a store-wide sale that lasts for three days.
Example: “Join us for great #discounts as we hold our annual #sale at #JCPenney and get your penny’s worth! 3 days only! (shortened hyperlink)”
Lifestyle-based hashtags would be what are considered in the marketing world as “soft-sell”.
Example:“#Winter can be cold, stay #fashionable and warm with #leather this fall with our new collection at #JCPenny (shortened hyperlink)
Product-based hashtags focus on specific items anytime.
Example:“Just in: 3000 thread count pure #egyptiancotton #linens at #JCPenny. You’ll feel more pampered than every before! (shortened hyperlink)
Aside from that, it also helps if you’re creative in your content and include interesting media such as images or video. A picture tells a thousand words and nothing screams sale like:
2. Create brand identity
This is not a new concept in the world of advertising and marketing but it works just as well on Twitter than it does in real life. Twitter as a tool for building brand identity is a veritable treasure chest and can be utilised in so many ways it will boggle your mind.
Consumers in general usually recommend brands or products they are familiar with. The challenge is getting to become one of those brands. By using Twitter to build your brand identity you’ll be able to break into that zone of privilege.
As examples of this, you’ll probably be familiar with terms such as “You’ll never walk alone” or “Have a break, have a KitKat”. The prior is associated with the Liverpool Football Club, while the latter, well, KitKat. These have translated successfully onto Twitter as #YNWA and #HaveABreak.
Brilliant hashtag examples that are simple yet impactful.
Through these hashtags, the businesses have avenues through which fans can share their love of the brands in varied and colourful ways that only the masses are able to achieve. In short, the brands are getting their fans to do their marketing for them!
One thing to note about this strategy though is to try and anticipate how it will be used. By thinking through the creation of your hashtag identity or branding, you’ll be able to avoid embarrassing fails later in the game.
Take for example what Bill Cosby’s team tried when they created the #Cosbymeme hashtag. Obviously, they were hoping to make use of the power of their fanbase and create hype about the star. Very unfortunately for them, this is a sample of what went wrong:
3. Ride on recent trends
This is especially useful for smaller businesses that may otherwise lack the clout of many bigger players on social media. It’s unlikely that people would be searching for #TomsPremiumSalmon, so there’s always the possibility of latching onto specific trends on Twitter.
The first place to look for trends would of course be on Twitter itself. Although some websites that offer tips and so on might be useful, Twitter would have the most accurate information since the information is natively on that platform.
Let’s say Tom notices that a current trend is #fishoil. The obvious thing for him to do would be to latch on to that and tweet for dear life:
“#TomsPremiumSalmon is wild-caught and a fantastic #healthfood rich in #fishoil and tastes AWESOME!
There are of course many other sites that offer paid services including trending hashtags, monitoring and analysing, so you’ll have to find the right balance of price versus performance that suits your level of business.
Other points to take into consideration
While the tips on hashtag usage can form a list that is miles long, there are some very basic things to keep in mind overall when engaging on Twitter.
First and foremost: You only have 140 characters.
Make them count. If you’re not able to afford a copywriter full time, at least consider engaging one that is experienced and willing to work with you on a campaign of freelance basis.
Keep in mind that your tweets often reflect directly on your business. If you expect your sales staff to be professional, then don’t expect less from the person who is tweeting for you. Twitter for business is not just something that’s done “just because everyone is doing it”, but is a direct representation of your business on the social media space.
Track your campaign results and stats
At the end of the day, go back to the basics, which is to recall why you’re on Twitter. Once you’ve started Tweeting following (hopefully) well laid out plants, it’s time to learn how effective your hashtags have been.
Here, it’s important to not fall into the ‘vanity trap’. This means that you should judge how effective you’ve been by looking at hard metrics such as leads generated, sales figures and conversion rates. This is what powers your business, not the number of likes or re-tweets you get.
By following sales numbers in parallel with your Twitter marketing campaigns, you’ll be able to build a picture of what works and what doesn’t. Here you’ll discover that what’s most popular, isn’t always what’s best for your business.
Also – there are plenty of freemium tools that help you keep track of the performance of your twitter campaigns and break it down into hard metrics for you. Hootsuite, Social Bakers, and Hashtracking are some that you can try.
Most of these sites do cost some money, but consider it an investment into your social media marketing. After all, wouldn’t a print ad cost you money as well?
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board if you’re finding that your marketing hashtags aren’t working. Sometimes, the most unconventional ways of using hashtags end up being the most successful.
Now that you’ve got some idea of how tweets can make (or break) your business you’ll probably realise exactly how important your hashtag marketing strategy can be. Always remember that your reputation is in providing real value to your target market in some form or another.
Make sure to use hashtags intelligently and blend them seamlessly into your Tweets so that they look natural, while at the same time reaping the marketing benefits.
Be consistent, stay engaged, and listen to your audience as they interact with you and we assure you, like Liverpool, #YNWA.
About Timothy Shim
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.