Tweet Your Way to Better Business: The Secret of the Hashtags, Part II

Last week we discussed Twitter—specifically, Twitter as a tool for business promotion and brand management, not Twitter as a platform to ramble on and on about whatever you ate for breakfast this morning. Remember: Twitter is what you make of it. Approach it without vision or discretion and it’s only going to generate useless noise. Approach it with foresight, however, and you can really use it to your company’s advantage.

And hashtags are a great way to do that. Last week’s blog was all about selectively and effectively using pre-existing hashtags, and, if you’ll remember, my comments emphasized the importance of discretion—of using only the hashtags that really fit your business and its goals. But what do you do when there isn’t a hashtag that fits the bill? Simple: You make your own.

Easy, right? Well, yes and no. Of course, the simple act of creating a hashtag is a breeze—you just put the # character in front of a word. If you can’t handle that, I might suggest that Twitter isn’t for you. But creating a hashtag that will actually benefit your company and function as a useful brand management tool? That takes just a bit more finesse.

The first step is picking the word itself. Remember, the hashtag you use needs to be something that fits with your business. It also needs to be something that other Twitterers can easily use in their tweets. The whole point of this is to generate a sense of community, after all, by creating a memorable “trend” on Twitter—so make sure your hashtag is something that’s pretty easy to spell. You might also want to make it short. As a Twitter user, I will personally attest to the fact that, when a hashtag eats up half of your 140 characters, it’s usually way more frustrating than it’s worth.

Once you’ve settled on a good hashtag, just start using the thing. Attach it to your tweets, but remember to make those tweets pertinent. Don’t throw around your hashtags like spam; say something substantive in each tweet. And make it worth your followers’ while to use the hashtag themselves. For instance, let’s say you own a lawn equipment store. You could ask your followers what their favorite lawn maintenance activity is, and have them tag their answers with #lawnfavorites. Maybe offer a door prize of some sort for one lucky participant?

The idea, of course, is that using hashtags like this will help you cultivate a sort of community among your Twitter-savvy clients—keeping your name in front of them and keeping them interested in what you’re doing. As always, I should also note that Grammar Chic, Inc. offers superior services in brand management campaigns just like this, and that investing in said services could ultimately help your business convert Twitter followers into sales prospects.

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