smb-tech-trendsYou may have seen more articles about hashtags recently now that Facebook has joined the ranks of Twitter, Pinterest and other social media networks to enable the # symbol before a word or phrase to make it more searchable. Click on a hashtag in a Tweet and all the words with that hashtag will come up — for example, #smallbusiness.

As a small business owner, hashtags can boost your marketing efforts by enabling you to attract more followers on your social media networks who care about the kinds of products and services you offer.  A recent survey conducted by ad firm RadiumOne points to the widespread use of hashtags among consumers.

RadiumOne found that among the 494 survey participants, 58 percent use hashtags on a regular basis and 71 percent of regular hashtag users do so from their mobile devices. Furthermore 43 percent of respondents consider hashtags useful and 34 percent use them to search/follow categories and brands of personal interest. Not only that, but 51 percent would use hashtags more often if advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product-based hashtags.

Hashtags also help raise your small business visibility among customers and prospects by enabling you to become part of a conversation relevant to your market or industry. You can start a conversation using the appropriate hashtag or join a hashtag conversation that is already going on. In this way, you are not only sending a message to your followers but to anyone else who is part of the conversation.

Drop Cap Number SignIn another area, if you are planning to participate in an industry trade show, hashtags can help draw traffic to your booth. Find out the official show hashtag and use it to announce you’ll be there. Once the show starts; you easily can post live using your smartphone or tablet using the hashtag so that anyone in attendance or following the show will be notified. This can be particularly helpful for making announcements from the show or publicizing an onsite promotion.

Hashtags are not only helpful to raise awareness; they come in handy for researching a topic or market and tracking the activity of your small business competitors.

Avoid hashtag misuse

With so much going for them, it can be tempting to overuse hashtags and undermine your marketing efforts by annoying followers. Don’t overuse them and particularly don’t make every word in your Twitter post a hashtag, such as:  #smallbusiness #mobile #app #users.  Here are some other hashtag don’ts to avoid

  • Don’t use words that need to be explained
  • Keep hashtags simple – not too many characters
  • Make sure hashtags are relevant to followers. Check out a hashtag before using it to see what kind of posts come up.
  • Don’t use hashtags as a way to express emotion such as #LOL

Have you used hashtags to help your small business marketing effort?

Vote-2013-125x125-red - Copy-4Help us get out the vote for 2013 Small Business Influencer Award #SMBInfluencer

It’s an honor to be among the nominees for the 2013 Small Business Influencer Awards. Voting is underway and continues until September 9. You can vote daily until then.  We appreciate your vote!