#Ecommerce #Marketing with #Hashtags

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
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What is a hashtag?

Hashtags were first introduced on Twitter in 2007 as a way to group conversations around a particular topic of interest, making it easy for people to find and participate in these conversations in real time. A hashtag is a word or phrase (without any punctuation or spaces) prefixed with the “#” symbol. When a user clicks on a hashtag, a stream of posts containing that hashtag will be displayed. Since 2007, Hashtags have expanded beyond Twitter, and are now prominent on most social media platforms including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, and a few others.

As an eCommerce merchant, there are a variety of ways you can utilize Hashtags. Here are a few to get started:

Monitor Topics and Trends – You can easily search for hashtags associated with certain products, categories, industries, or brands. This is great way learn about what is going in your industry, what people think about particular products, what your competitors are up to, etc. This will provide you with valuable information which you can use to refine your marketing strategy. For example, topics like #ecommerce and #hashtags, or trends like #throwbackthursday and #followfriday.

Build Brand Awareness & Engagement – You can create a company hashtag and encourage customers to share their experience with your brand in your advertising campaigns. This is a great way to encourage conversation and interaction with your brand. For example: #magnoliabakery and #toesox.

Promote Products – Include hashtags on your product detail pages and encourage customers to share their photos with the specific hashtag. You can even add an Instagram feed on your website using javascript to inspire your customers, similar to what Threadless has done with their #threadpics hashtag.

Promote Events – Creating hashtags for an upcoming event is a perfect way to create buzz and encourage conversation before, during, and after an event. #dreamforce and #df13 are good examples.

Special Offers & Sales – With the holidays quickly approaching, now is the time to incorporate hashtags in your promotional marketing material. Using hashtags for special offers, seasonal or holiday sales are a few ideas. Examples include #blackfriday, #cybermonday, and #thanksgivingsale.

Contests – Another great way to build engagement with your brand and gain followers is to hold a photo contest using a particular hashtag. One way to encourage participation is to reward the winner(s) with a prize, like a free product, gift certificate, or event ticket. Take a look at #thenextride and #magnershereandnow for inspiration.

A few things to note:

  • Try to limit the number of hashtags to 1-3 per post
  •  Keep them short and sweet
  • Stay consistent across social media platforms
  •  Be sure to monitor what your competition is up to
  • Don’t forget to engage with your customers & followers

As the importance of social media continues to grow, hashtags are a great way to enhance your online presence and ultimately drive sales on your website.

Currently an eCommerce Account Manager at Nexternal, Matthew enjoys helping businesses succeed online. Prior to joining Nexternal, Matthew spent years implementing innovative marketing campaigns for a world renowned design firm and is particularly passionate about online marketing and entrepreneurship.