Hashtags are one of those simple things you can add to my marketing practice that don’t take a lot of time, don’t cost money and deliver results.  Want to know a secret? I’ve not been doing “hashtags” as well as I could have.

I started this little quest for mastery the same as anyone does; I started searching on Google for some simple “how to use hashtags” strategies I could use.  In this article, I’m going to bring you along my thought process and what I’ve learned, that you might want to add to your routine as well.

Hashtag Basics: What is a hashtag and all that jazz

Around 25,000 times a month, someone wants to know what “hashtag” means and what you’re supposed to do with it.  Rather than create yet another article with those details, I ran into several wonderful sources that you can check out.

We even showed you how to become a hashtag expert on a recent #BizapaloozaChat about Hashtags with Kim Beasley

That’s all well and good, but what I was after on this journey was some practical tips — show me a structure, a practice or a routine that I can incorporate into my daily life — that’s what we’re going to dig into here.

So I decided to “Think and Speak Hashtag” — this drove my family nuts, but it looks something like this.

#DessertFirst  #Chocolate is Better

Hashtags are like “Keywords”

Stop reading and let this soak in.  Hashtags are like keywords.  In essence, hashtags serve a “searching”  and “grouping” function.  Hence, they are like keywords.   Today, every single social platform uses hashtags.  Each platform has it’s “best practices” for hashtags, so you’ll want to be sure to follow those.  But the idea is the same.  Hashtags are like keywords.

Create a “favorites list” of hashtag analytical tools

I use Chrome’s Bookmark manager — but you can use whatever you like; Pocket, Evernote, Pinterest or just plain “favorite”.  The key is to have these links handy (otherwise you won’t use them – and you need to use them)

Grab Your Industry Hashtags

Select a 2-3 “industry” hashtags to ALWAYS use in your posts this will build your brand, expand your reach and make you visible to new customers!

We’ve pulled together the 10 small business industries with their appropriate hashtags.

Hashtag Tools for Choosing the Best Hashtags

My go-to analytical tool for any hashtag is Hashtagify.me. I use the free version and it’s does the job.  Use Hashtagify.me to determine the popularity, trend and relationship of hashtags.  This is why it should be your first stop on your hashtag journey.

Since my content is written for small business owners and entrepreneurs, I used “entrepreneur” and you can see the hashtags that are most related to that hashtag.  It’s a great place to start.

Another great series of hashtag discovery tools is RiteTag.  SocialMediaExaminer has a great mini RiteTag Review here:

RiteTag is a great tool for researching relevant and trending hashtags. To access the free version, you need to use RiteTag’s website. Just enter your keyword or topic in the search box.

Searching hashtags on RiteTag offers insights into what tags are trending and what tags to avoid.

You can get access to the browser extension at the paid level (starting at $11 per month). This allows you to enhance your social media posts with hashtags related to the topic you’re writing about.

RiteTag’s extension lets you upload images to your post, add emojis, edit calls to action in your links, and see your saved tag sets. You can even search for free images or GIFs to add to your posts.

Quickly adding free images to your posts can help you increase engagement on your social media channels.

Develop a structure and create some guidelines

Now that you have your “go-to” industry hashtags, you’ll need a structure in place so that you know what to do, when and why.

Categorize your hashtags into “always use” hashtags that promote your brand and industry.  For example, I discovered that I should always use #DIY #Marketing. Then create a list of hashtags that are more descriptive.  For example,  then depending on the type of article, I might use #BizTip, #HowTo, #BookReview or #Trend.

Tips for Building Your Brand with Hashtags

Build your brand by taking over an underused hashtag or creating your own hashtag. Do a search on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook for the terms or phrases that you’re considering using.

Here’s an example of #HuntForHappiness that Webex ran.

Tips for Developing a Community with Hashtags

First things first — a hashtag, like or share doesn’t make a community.  There are elements that group and identify conversations – but they are not communities.  Communities are gatherings where thoughts and ideas are exchanged.

In my research, I found this wonderful article by Gina Bianchini, the founder of Ning and the CEO of new MightyBell – community platforms, “Building Better Social Networks: Beyond Likes, Follows and Hashtags” where she says the same thing.

Here’s a calendar that I’ve created with a variety of the best #smallbiz chats.

There is no one standard directory with all of the Tweet chats, but here are a few where you can find chats to participate in:

  • Twubs.com: Twubs is a free tweet chat tool that you can use to participate in tweet chats as well as to analyze chat participation.  TweetReports.com has a simple searchable directory by topic and also provides the Twitter Handle of the host of the chat.
  • 4 Tweet Chat Tools for Twitter  via @IanCleary


Tips for Getting More Followers and Engagement with Hashtags

In 6 Tactics that Will Increase Engagement, Neil Patel says to

Be sure to use hashtags that are topically relevant (and relevant to your audience – something they would search for). You can also leverage existing hashtags that work across various industries, like #TBT (Throwback Thursday). If you want to be build engagement you have to do whatever it takes to get your content in front of the right people at the right time. Hashtags are the way to do that.
Use the same hashtags across all of your platforms “When you become consistent with a hashtag, especially one that is considered unique to you or your produce or event, it will peak interest. We have all seen the most common of hashtags,” says Phil McGrath on Content Academy.

  • Iconohash.com – You heard it here first! This is a brand new hashtag analysis tool calls itself the “conversation archive”.  Iconohash tracks thousands of hashtag conversations and gives you data to help you track their engagement, intensity and growth.
  • Hashtags increase engagement on Facebook by 60%


Tips for Discovering New Content

Got writer’s block? No problem.  Create a list of keyword hashtags and search for content on Twitter for inspiration.


Tips for Checking out the Competition with Hashtags

When you’re checking out the competition, you’re actually looking to see the relationship they have with their audience.  See what they use to get more attention and try to use those hashtags to get into the conversation.

Here is an excerpt from SocialMediaExaminer.com who outlined 4 Ways to Research Your Competition

Twitonomy shows you what’s working for other brands in your industry on Twitter. The tool also lets you track the major interests of others’ followers.

After you sign in, enter a brand profile name in the search box under Analyze a Twitter Profile and then press Enter.

On the results page, check out which hashtags are working for this brand.

Hashtags are clickable, and they redirect Twitter users to a dedicated page. If you want to attract the customers of other brands, use some of their popular hashtags in your posts.

Tracking conversations with these hashtags can be beneficial. Participate in some of these discussions, but make sure you provide helpful information.

Another metric that Twitonomy tracks is power users, as shown here.

All three groups of people—users most retweeted, users most replied to and users most mentioned—are important because these are the users the brand interacts with. Visit the Twitter profiles of a brand’s power users and check their influence on their respective communities.


Tips for Promoting an Event or Launching a Product with Hashtags

Brainstorm hashtags first. If you’re launching a new event or product, consider starting hashtag research before you’ve named your event or product.

If you’ve already got a product or event name, then brainstorm hashtag phrases that reflect your themes or topics.  Consider hashtags that have a call-to-action in them

Create and own a hashtag that inspires a call-to-action and embraces what your brand stands for.

You can get daring and pair your event or product hashtag with a related hashtag that your audience will be following.

Get Hashtagging

This is just the top of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to using hashtags.  I didn’t write this because I was some expert or pro at it — I wrote it because I wasn’t and I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far.

My first step is to keep hashtagging as a top of mind activity.  I can tell you I forget a lot because it’s not a habit yet.  But I’m improving. How about you?