Used to be you’d see a billboard advertising a product or service with a phone number underneath the company logo. Then the phone number became a website address, then a Facebook user name alongside the unmistakable blue square with rounded corners. Today, you are more likely to find advertisements that display none of these things as they are replaced by a hashtag and a simple word.
Take for example, recent advertisements for the HBO series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” A title card displays the show’s name along with #curb. The show doesn’t necessarily want you to like a Facebook page or check out a preview on YouTube, but they want you to create conversation. The #curb tag in Twitter or other social networks gets you into an exclusive club of Curb fans – you can search now and see what people are saying, and generate your own buzz among your friends and followers. It’s a smart move by HBO and Curb to market the show in this manner, because who can better promote a TV series, book, music act, anything, than an active group of fans?
It’s one thing to have a Twitter account with thousands of followers, and another to have thousands of Twitter users actually talking about your products and services. At the end of the day, which do you think is more valuable: a thousand people reading your posts and possibly patronizing your business, or a thousand people each tweeting about your business to their followers, and potentially increasing your visibility? This is not to say you should stop trying to bring in new followers, but this is a great time to shift some focus in your Twitter marketing to encourage positive chatter.
The Hashtag VS. the @Mention
Even if you are new to Twitter, you know the difference between using # and @ in conversation. The @ mention often directly addresses another Twitter user, while the # addresses a specific topic in Twitter that is popular, or “trending,” or part of a pertinent discussion. Conference planners often set up hashtags for conferees to follow for information, and fans of TV shows and movies may add a tag to their tweets to generate attention. Fans of “True Blood” converse during the show – just look for #trueblood in Twitter to see the activity.
As you formulate a marketing strategy that involves Twitter, you will want to focus on a unique hashtag people can use when referring to your company. While an @ mention may alert you more easily, not all of these tweets may be visible to everybody, depending on the Twitter client used. Use of the hashtag is better to promote your brand to as many Twitter account holders as possible.
Selecting a Tag
In selecting a hashtag that will identify with your company, you want to be mindful of the following:
1) Make sure it’s not already being used. Play around a bit on Twitter and test potential hashtags you would use for your company identity. Your company name or a derivative of it may work, but have an alternative if you find it’s being used.
2) Keep it short. People should discuss your company with as much free space as possible. You have 140 characters per tweet, so try to keep the hashtag less than 10% of that.
3) Make sure people know to use it. Let people know the hashtag, and use it often in your own tweets. As followers go by your example they may soon converse on their own about you, and the hashtag allows for easy monitoring.
Having customers talk to you via Twitter is good. When they follow you, it’s great. When they talk positively about you on Twitter or anywhere else, you strike gold.