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May 27, 2013

Why businesses should use #hashtags to reach customers

Facebook recently began supporting hashtags,which finally brings them on par with the other popular social networks such as Google+, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Hashtags are keywords or phrases with the prefix “#”, and works as a way to see all posts that include that specific word or words.

A survey from San francisco based ad platform RadiumOne, which polled 500 participants, found:hashtag

  • 58 percent of respondents utilize hashtags on a regular basis, and 71 percent of regular hashtag users do so from their mobile devices
  • 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful and 34% use them to search/follow categories and brands of personal interest
  • 51 percent of respondents would share hashtags more often if they knew advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product based hashtags
  • 41 percent of respondents use hashtags to communicate personal ideas and feelings

So, how should today's business community use the hashtag? Consider the following:

For Targeting Customers - 
Hashtags make it simpler to reach pertinent customers. Marketing tools allow brands to advertise based on hashtags. For instance, Twitter lets advertisers target ads by category or interest, and so do other marketing firms like Ironpaper. Internet surfers who use hashtags are likely to engaging in the social conversation and share their experiences with a brand.

For Promoting Products - 
The RadiumOne survey found that 51 percent would share hashtags more often if they knew they would receive discounts. This is especially powerful for small businesses since launching a campaign needs only good ideas. Followers can receive discount codes for including a hashtag in their posts. And hashtags make it simple for followers to follow events in real time and make it easy to interact in the event online.

For Creating Conversations - 
Sometimes it is important to see what the the marketplace is saying about a product or brand. According to the RadiumOne survey, 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful and 34% use them to search brands of interest. Hashtags make it easy to begin a conversation. During the #SuperBowl this year, a record 4,064 Tweets per second took place.

For Unifying Campaigns - 
Tools like Tagboard now allow you to track a hashtag across all the major social networks. Promote products and engage with customers across all platforms without having to create special campaigns for each. Since the hashtag can be the brand or the product, it is easy to filter out unwanted "noise".

For Future Innovation
 - The use of hashtags are still new and innovative campaigns are still to come. Because they’re so simple, creative ways to use the hashtag are as easy to produce as campaigns are to incorporate them. For instance American Express recently launched Amex Sync, which lets cardholders make purchases by using hashtags.

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