The humble hashtag (#something?) on the net is to us what a fresh breeze is for a dog seeking love. Just as he is poking his wet nose in the wind seeking, we’re adding #tags before words – searching for information and order in the net. Hopefully, the dog has found the information he needed to (gracefully) complete his mission… But let me rather stick with us.
Everything nowadays is getting disrupted of affected by the digital revolution. Indeed, even the interactive and popular web 2.0 has probably reached its full potential. Web 3.0, the semantic web, is quickly gaining traction in the virtual world. Techopedia defines the semantic web as a mesh of data that are associated in such a way that they can easily be processed by machines instead of human operators. Indeed, since the first hashtag (#) was conceived back in 2007 by Chris Messina, a Twitter user, we started to use the semantic web (web 3.0) seriously. So, why do we like using a hashtag? Because it’s simple and effective!
The original aim of Chris Messina was to introduce hashtags to help users efficiently retrieve information on Twitter 1. As a result, hash-tagging is a simple and convenient way for users to classify and categorize their own tweets. Indeed, such a hashtag within a tweet can simply be specified by adding a hash – ‘#’ – followed by the tag itself 2 .
Nevertheless, it is important for business owners to take hashtags and their effects seriously. Because hashtags represent a big opportunity for brands to inform content creation strategies, attract new followers, and be a part of relevant conversations, says Brent Csutoras in INC. That’s not all – a previous study has indicated that 75% of social media users use hashtags.
Let’s have a look how the humble hashtag can be used.
The Humble Hashtag Seeking
So, you’re a small business owner in a big city and have a website, and accounts with all the important social network sites. Now then, how can your business, using the hashtag, help prospective customers to find you? Here’s what Kim Garst proposes:
- Use a Hashtag Tool. With thousands of hashtags being posted every day, finding the relevant ones can be nearly impossible. Tools that Kim suggests are: Hootsuite; Hashtagify.me; Tagboard and TweetBinder. The tools help to find the relevant tags; to sort and organize them; conduct a competitive analyses and help tracking hashtags cross-platform.
- Search for Hashtags that are related to your product or service. Some of your best-selling products have their own hashtags e.g. #sodawater. However, if you’re creative you can try to use #springwater to find specific niches.
- Search for conversations about your competitors. Run a search on your competitor’s products. It a great way to pick up the trends and emotions of your niche, especially if you’re a newbie…
- Search for questions you can reply to. The goal here is to find general questions, issues and problems that your potential customer or clients are talking about to see how you can help.
- Search for industry discussions you can be part of. Monitoring these can be extremely beneficial, as it gives you the inside scoop into what your potential customers and clients are really talking about.
- Respond. When you join or respond to a conversation, you should do it discretely, if you don’t need to respond, don’t.
Now let’s consider the talking hashtag…
The Humble Hashtag Talking
With web 2.0 came the social net, and everybody wanted to talk to someone about something, online. Besides, we like to socialize online – worldwide there are over 2.38 billion monthly active users (MAU) of Facebook as of March 31, 2019 (Dan Noyes, Zephoria Digital Marketing). Then there are social network platforms such Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and many more, adding to Facebook’s users. Your customers want to talk with you and visa verse on the social net. Hashtags make it easy to join conversations with groups and communities that have an interest in your business or products…
Hashtags are the most prominent and ubiquitous form of social tag used in all the social media platforms, according to Michele Zappavigna 3 . For example, if you want to follow a discussion about the ‘banting diet’; just use #bantingdiet with your Twitter search… You’ll get an array of different topics and issues to choose from and join a discussion regarding the banting diet.
The hashtag also stirs emotions…
The Humble Hashtag Stirring
Trending – now this (not so humble) hashtags are for the news junkies, sport fans and celebrity gossip followers. These hashtags are usually listed to be easily seen on most news sites. They’re handy to quickly follow up on the latest hot topics. Not surprisingly, the hottest topic this week in South Africa is #PublicProtectorMkhwebane…
The stirring hashtags are mostly controversial and loves going viral. So, if your business or products can hitch a ride on these hashtags, better hold tight, because you’ll never know how it will end. However, you should rather try and find some of your customers in these viral discussions – maybe just to see the other side of them!
As the internet, its users, platforms and apps are growing exponentially, it is getting ever more difficult to find and follow someone or something online. Luckily, we can use the hashtag.
We are close to where only machines will ‘talk’ with each other in the cloud of the web. Using the hashtag is still one way where can prompt the human emotions to emerge from the vastness…
A Marketing Plan helps you to communicate the right content to the right audience.
1 Zhang, Y. 2019. Language in Our Time: An Empirical Analysis of Hashtags, In The World Wide Web Conference, ACM: 2378-2389.
2 Zangerle, E., Gassler, W. and Specht, G. 2011. Recommending # – tags in Twitter, CEUR Workshop Proc., vol. 730.
3 Zappavigna, M., 2018. Searchable talk: Hashtags and social media metadiscourse. Bloomsbury Publishing.