hashtagHashtags on Twitter, Tumbler, and Google+ and now Facebook, are becoming a powerful tool in a marketer’s multichannel arsenal — particularly given their effectiveness in boosting a campaign’s online visibility. For national brands and franchises that are tasked with promoting and driving traffic to local Web sites and brick-and-mortar locations, hashtags and active participation in social conversations are a must.

However, most brands have not yet taken the time to understand the best practices for utilizing hashtags and on which channel. With Facebook rolling out hashtags this past month, it is even more important to make hashtags a part of an overall online marketing strategy, as they can have an enormous impact on exposure and overall Web presence.

Across social-media sites, hashtags can give national attention to local brands increased visibility and boost the efficacy of social media marketing strategies. National brands, dealers, franchisees and other businesses that maintain a local presence and are seeking effective strategies to break through the online noise can effectively create and own trending hashtags, keywords and phrases. This can be done through educational and promoted social media posts that dominate the online conversation.

With Facebook’s recent introduction of searchable hashtags, users can search for a hashtag from their search bar, click on hashtags from other social media sites, like Instagram, and write posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.

Searchable hashtags could revolutionize social media marketing on Facebook, as brands can now participate in real-time conversations with new leads or potential customers.

In addition, brands that use hashtags effectively can target a new set of prospect customers, as hashtags signal user intent. Specifically, Facebook has a huge opportunity to charge a premium for specific conversations related to trending hashtags. Relevant brands could promote their service and products to users — based on hashtags — connecting with consumers more likely to be interested in their offerings.

For example, a contractor could create an educational blog post on water damage from floods with information about insurance options and create a trending topic using the #waterdamagerepair hashtag in localized areas that have seen heavy rain and flooding. By utilizing social media monitoring analytics the contractor has the ability to mine the social interaction data and create outreach campaigns targeted to interested prospects.

Marketers and SMBs can also consolidate their social-media marketing efforts instead of taking an omnichannel approach and connect campaigns through multiple mediums like social media, online ads and TV ads via a special hashtag. The ability to connect a campaign presents the opportunity to quickly create buzz about a brand, which previously could have taken weeks, months or years to do.

For maximum exposure, brands should sign up for hashtag analytics on hashtags.org, which shows the most popular hashtags. By choosing hashtags that are already trending, users who are interested in specific subjects, particularly locally focused and relevant ones, will find a brand’s social content much easier.

Often, the impact of change within a platform such as Facebook is uncertain and ever-changing. In order to stay ahead of the game, brands need to develop a strategic plan that outlines how hashtags can benefit campaigns and provide more exposure and new customers.-MediaPost

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