On Small Business has a new feature in which young entrepreneurs will answer common questions about small business owners’ social media needs. The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of young entrepreneurs.
Q: How can businesses effectively use hashtags on Twitter or on Facebook to get their message out?
Jun Loayza, co-founder and CMO of RewardMe in Mountain View, Calif.:
A business can use a Twitter #hashtag to run a sweepstakes or giveaway. Giveaways have greatly impacted my business and, at times, increased traffic to my sites by more than 100 percent in a single day. Furthermore, a local business can utilize a giveaway to drive customers to follow it on Twitter, giving the local business a powerful marketing channel.
To run a giveaway, utilize a specific hashtag like #BusinessNameGiveaway and give instructions to your Web traffic or customer base: ‘We’re giving away a Prize every week! Join our giveaway by following us on Twitter @BusinessName, telling us why you deserve to win/why you love our food/insert requirement here, and adding the #BusinessNameGiveaway hashtag.” Once your giveaway has ended, utilize Tweetaways.com to easily pick a random giveaway winner.
To keep customers highly engaged, I recommend running a giveaway every week with a reward. Small, fast rewards have proven to be more successful at influencing customer behavior than large, slow rewards. Therefore, a weekly giveaway where a customer wins French fries will perform better than a monthly giveaway where a customer wins an entire burger meal.”
Shama Kabani, CEO of The Marketing Zen Group in Dallas:
Tagging, when done correctly, can be an excellent strategy to gain more visibility for your content online. However, tagging ‘don’ts’ are just as crucial as tagging ‘do’s.’
The most important thing to remember when tagging — whether it is via hashtags on Twitter or tagging keywords on a YouTube video — is relevancy. Use only keywords which are relevant to the content you are posting. If you use popular but irrelevant keywords (i.e. using the keyword Justin Bieber for your B2B video) to tag your content, be prepared for a backlash. When tags are used correctly, they can help you reach a greater audience and gain more visibility.
Think of tags as topics or greater categories. If your tweet, post or video were actually a file, which folder or categories could it be filed under? For example, if you tweet about customer service, you could use the hashtag #business. To see more examples of existing hashtags, check out tagdef.com.”
Lauren Fairbanks, partner at Stunt & Gimmick’s in New York:
Companies should primarily use tagging (especially Twitter hashtags) to join conversations within their fields and expertise. Marketers are constantly pushing the benefits of engaging with consumers and customers, but it can be difficult to gain initial traction when starting conversations online. A good way to circumnavigate that is by joining other conversations that are relevant to your field or industry, building thought leadership and expertise within those fields and then using traction to build and expand your own online community.
Start by searching for hashtags that are frequently used in your industry to find interesting conversations where you can add to the dialogue. Note: Don’t interject your thoughts into a conversation that you don’t have anything useful to add to — that will only annoy people.
The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good).
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