Hashtags are powerful little tools that marketers can use in their social media campaigns to help them get leads.
A hashtag is a word or expression prefixed with the symbol #, such as #hashtag. Hashtags organize messages into meaningful groups on social media streams and allow users to quickly search for related content by clicking on them whenever they appear in someone’s status updates.
Though hashtags were first used on Twitter, they are now supported on Facebook, Google Plus, YouTube, Flickr and many more social media websites. There are many uses for hashtags. They can be used to:
- start a conversation about a topic. This conversation can be as mundane as your interest in cats or it can be about a political movement such as The Arab Spring uprising. Many of the demonstrations were organized through use of hashtagged tweets.
- start a contest. You can use hashtags to hold a contest on Twitter and select prizes to random winners chosen through a free app such as Tweets Win.
- gain followers. Using relevant hashtags about your business will make you attractive to the target market you want to entice to follow you. People who are interested in the topics you create content about will be able to find you more easily. If you are in the pharmaceutical industry, for example, you may want to consider hashtags such as #healthcare and #pharma.
- find relevant content. You can also find industry leaders and potential customers by clicking on various hashtags, following people and engaging with them on social media.
- organize your own posts by using the same hashtag in every post. For example, if you are staging an event, it is helpful to create and promote one hashtag for everyone to use during the event and afterwards so that everyone at the event and those following the event at home can find your content. Speakers will sometimes use the hashtag during Q&A periods after presentations for interactivity with the audience.
Marketing with hashtags
Statistics show that marketing with hashtags is very effective if they are used properly, and they give you the opportunity to send droves of new people to your content:
- Tweets that include hashtags receive twice the engagement of those without. Only 24% of tweets contain hashtags, even though 67% of users are more likely to buy from brands they follow, and 74% of users are more likely to recommend brands they follow.
- There is a 21% higher engagement rate when tweets include up to two hashtags.
- There is a 17% decrease in engagement when tweets include more than two hashtags.
So the lesson here is, use them, but don’t go overboard!
Using hashtags for lead generation
In addition to simply enhancing engagement, hashtags can be used even more directly for lead generation. One way to do this is through a Twitter chat. A Twitter chat is a realtime conversation based on hashtags. The chats are at a specific time and often they are repeated on a schedule, such as weekly or monthly, at announced times.
You can see all of the tweets around a hashtag simply by clicking on it in your own timeline, but that can get confusing, and it’s easy to lose the thread. To make it easier to follow, there are several free chat room services available for hosting and participating in Twitter chats: Tweetchat.com, Twchat.com, Twitterfail.com and Twubs.com are available.
Holding a Twitter chat
If you are interested in holding a Twitter chat, it’s best to observe and/or participate in several first to get the hang of it. You shouldn’t make your chat a sales presentation, but rather an exchange of useful information about a topic. However, it’s a great way to get to know others who may be in need of your services. After the event is over, you can reach out to participants, follow them, and continue building a relationship.
One way to help you get free insights about potential customers is a new tool called LeadSift. When you run across someone on Twitter who seems like a potential customer and you want to check them out, all you need to do to uncover both demographic and psychographic insights about them is insert their Twitter handle into a field and within seconds you will receive a list of their top interests, their most popular tweet, career information, city and other biographical information.
Lead generation cards
Another cool way to get leads with hashtags on Twitter is by using lead generation cards.
Lead generation cards are a relatively new way to use Twitter to get leads. Twitter cards are the multimedia content that you see when you click on a tweet and it opens.
The lead generation card is a way to use Twitter cards to generate leads directly within a tweet when you have an advertising campaign going and you are promoting your tweets. The reason this is such a great lead generator is because the user’s name and contact information are all automatically pulled into the card when he/she submits the Twitter card, making it much easier. The user does not have to click out of Twitter and go onto your website to submit the information.
Hubspot has detailed instructions for setting up lead generation cards. You will need a CRM end point integration. There are many CRM providers that will work with the cards, however, including SalesForce, Silverpop, Infusionsoft and Mailchimp, or you can configure you own endpoint.
Facebook and Google Plus hashtags
In June 2013 Facebook announced that it would make hashtags clickable, correcting a major weakness for the website – content discovery. Marketers hoping to get leads with their content will especially appreciate Facebook’s inclusion of clickable hashtags.
Hashtags on Facebook, Google Plus and other websites work pretty much as they do on Twitter. When you create a new hashtag, make sure it isn’t in use by somebody else, unless you are intentionally adding to a popular stream. Remember to include them in your ads, too.
You can use hashtags.org to help you decide which hashtags to use for your tweets. Just put in a hashtag and it will show you the estimated number of tweets per hour your hashtag has received, based on a 1% sample, over the past 24 hours. The tool is free for this limited snapshot, but if you want an expanded analytics view for up to 12 months, that is available with an upgrade.
There are multiple ways that hashtags help you get leads. According to a RadiumOne study, 75% of social media users now use hashtags at least part of the time. If you’re not using them, or using them only sporadically, consider using them regularly to enhance your lead generation opportunities.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dlytle/