Is Your Small Business Taking Advantage of Hashtags on Social Media?

Many small business owners are now turning their attentions to building their companies' standings on social media platforms favored by millions of consumers nationwide, but some may not be taking advantage of a built-in tool designed to help users find people discussing the kinds of things in which they might be interested.

For years, people always saw the "pound" symbol on their phones or keyboards as a way to denote numbers, but these days, it's being used far more often for what's called a "hashtag," according to a report from Small Business Trends. This kind of thing may seem a little silly to owners who aren't especially familiar with how social media works these days, but this can be a very effective way of promoting products or services that could help attract new customers to a small business.

Hashtags are usually words or short phrases denoted with the pound symbol that makes them clickable links on sites like Twitter and, more recently, Facebook that allow a person to find tweets which also contain that hashtag and which would ostensibly be of interest to them, the report said. For instance, if a person on Twitter were to click on the hashtag "#SmallBusiness" they would be able to view all tweets containing it, and potentially connect with new users or companies that they might not have known about before. They can consequently become powerful tools for helping small businesses reach what could be very specific online audiences that may be more interested in their services than people who just happen to come across their tweets or other messages more randomly.

Making a hashtag work for a small business
Of course, there is a bit of a science to utilizing hashtags effectively, as many people who regularly use these social media tools have likely seen them misused many times, the report said. For one thing, the phrase a company is trying to hashtag cannot contain spaces to work properly; if one company uses the phrase "#Small Business" rather than "#SmallBusiness" it would be directing users to the #Small hashtag, which doesn't benefit them much.

It may also be wise to try to create a company-specific hashtag phrase, the report said. One that is short but could be unique to one specific company – such as its name or a product or service it provides – could help to draw interest to that company's account. Using it in conjunction with other, better-known hashtags will also likely help to boost the visibility of the unique one. Obviously this unique one should be kept as concise and easy to remember as possible.

One great way to generate interest in a company through the use of a hashtag, and vice versa, is by holding an online contest only for people who use that unique phrase, the report said. For example, having a trivia contest for people who use "#SmallBusinessTrivia" will likely draw some interest among people, and can come with relatively small cost; owners might be surprised at the lengths to which people might go just to win a $25 gift card or free t-shirt through such a contest.

The ultimate reason to try to use hashtags, of course, is to generate more interest in a small business and increase revenues, but owners should also try to be on the lookout for ways to reduce costs as well. This might include finding more affordable small business insurance policies including those for general liability insurance, which can bear a sometimes significant price tag that may be a little difficult to bear.