‘Hashing’ Out An Effective Social Media Grouping Strategy

What originated as a simple system of online labeling has become a part of our offline social vernacular. The hashtag (or more specifically, the number sign, #) is now regularly used in casual conversation to reference an emphasis on a specific subject and has become a pop culture icon in it’s own right.

Originally used in 2007 on Twitter to make sense of the 140-character chaos, the idea to apply this method of classification originated from IRC (Internet Relay Chats) dating back to the late 80s. From a social media perspective, the widespread use of the hashtag took some time to gain traction and was further developed and implemented by Twitter in 2009 when the growing company identified the increased usage of the tagging system among its users.

The use of hashtags have extended beyond Twitter and has spread successfully to most major social networks with the exception of LinkedIn. Implementing a grouping strategy via hashtags from a content marketing perspective across all platforms displaying an active grouping audience is highly recommended.

Different platforms require a varied approach to achieve the optimal engagement. For instance, fewer and more targeted tags should be used on Twitter due to the 140-character allowance; while on Instagram, higher engagements are seen using a more varied and vast tagging system as there is no character limit and users are highly in tune with the search structure as they post their own material that may relate.

An actual follower conversion is harder to come by, and comes with multiple engagements. It’s more likely that a user will ‘favorite’ a tweet or insta photo, choosing to ‘follow’ after building more of a relationship. Additionally, it’s notable to mention that the use of hashtags on Facebook is relatively low in use and gaining momentum at a markedly slower pace than other platforms..

The application of hashtags can be incredibly beneficial to a marketing strategy boosting existing efforts and greatly expanding an audience, and ultimately, harnessing a  larger market share. Some ideal applications and benefits include:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Special Events, Campaigns & Product Launches
  • Relationship Building
  • Trend Spotting

A word of caution when using the hashtag strategy: ensure the right audience is targeted by checking the hashtag to be implemented before it is posted. An abbreviation or series of numbers can have multiple meanings and confuse or even offend the the user – even one letter or number can make a difference. Taking the time to research usage and activity will ensure that the right message is directed to the right people for maximum engagement opportunities.

 

Vanessa Petersen

As Executive Director of Brand Strategy based in ArtVersion’s Portland office, Vanessa manages both national and West Coast accounts. She brings with her a passion for strategy with extensive experience in creative marketing, brand growth and development. She is a true advocate of storytelling and brand building from the inside out, and her keen knowledge of the marketplace, trend patterns and usability lead her to identify opportunities that can inspire powerful design strategies.

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