Give Me a Side of Hashtags, Please

Introduction

I read a lot of posts that come through LinkedIn and this past week something struck me as strange, I didn’t see good healthy use of hashtags in most of the posts I ran across.

This got me quite perplexed and thinking that perhaps it is not something everyone understands or even appreciates. So, I sat down today with a cup of coffee and wrote this article out with some supporting research and facts to back it up. I hope you find this helpful.

Now, on to hashtags

I observe. I am curious. I wonder. I experiment.

That’s what I do when I’m in my “marketing mode” of thinking. When I post to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other social platform, I try to do so thoughtfully and with the most impact. For the purposes of this article, I’m focusing on LinkedIn as the platform of choice.

Content, Content, Content

Of course, it all starts with your content and how compelling it is, but it also is about your intended audience and your strategy to reach that specific target. For example, you may only have 50 followers on LinkedIn, so when you share your post essentially only those 50 will see your post, engage with it, or comment on it. You may get lucky and one of them may share it with their network, but you still are only reaching a small few.

Now, you may be a big technology company with 25,000 followers and believe because of that strength in numbers that you will have better success over those with fewer followers, and that may be true, but you’re hitting the same folks that follow you anyway, so while the numbers may be more, it is the same old target you’ve hit in the past.  If you don’t take advantage of a multi-layered trajectory for your post(s) by using hashtags, you are missing an opportunity, in my humble opinion. I have had this discussion before with a VP of marketing of a mid-sized software company who told me that the company’s 17,000 followers on LinkedIn are loyal and will re-share anything they post to their own network of people on LinkedIn. Well, I’m not sure about the veracity of that statement, but I did find a stat that said your employees are 14x more likely to re-share your post to their network, but nothing about general “followers”.

So, let’s go with something we have some data to back up, your employees. Let’s say you get 200 of your employees to share your post with their personal networks which average about 1500 people in each, that is a yield of 300,000 people your content will hit. According to this article, 60% of LinkedIn users have fewer than 1000 connections, which makes my estimate quite generous. To make matters worse, your employees may have a significant overlap with your followers, so are you really hitting the 300,000 number or not?

This is like “catch ‘n release” fishing in your own pond; it may feel great at the end of the day, but you haven’t expanded your pond or the fish within it.

When you use hashtags you break out of your follower network into a new dimension of people who may not follow you, may never have heard of you, or may have had a very different perception of what it is you do and how you relate to their business.

The Problem, for example

A Chief HR Officer of a large Fortune 500 company has been tasked by the CEO to identify new ideas, concepts, or solutions to improve employee satisfaction and ultimately productivity in light of the new “Work From Home” program put in place five months ago. A CHRO, who typically follows hashtags around #WorkFromHome #Career #Tchat #Jobs #GetWorkDone, etc. gathers his/her team to gain input about how the program is working.

One of the things the CHRO has heard from the team is the employees who are working from home are having a very difficult time getting their job done due to some of the challenges around accessing the corporate network. Over the last four months, this has been a recurring theme from the HR business partners who have reported a lower than normal morale. The CHRO immediately turns to IT since this is completely out of his/her wheelhouse, and asks for help. The IT Director explains the problem with access and the data sharing roadblocks they have hit since going nearly 100% remote and the fact that they have been researching new solutions to mitigate the constant frustration and lack of productivity.

Your Solution, for example

You on the other hand have a cloud-based storage-as-a-service solution that is designed to help the remote/”work from home” worker to share data across the country or the globe in a secure and simplified manner with other authorized users. It is designed to be more efficient and higher performing than the competition resulting in an opportunity to increase productivity results.

The Conundrum

However, when you share your update on LinkedIn the only hashtag you use is #DataAnywhere. Now, while #DataAnywhere may attract my attention or someone’s attention who follows you, it will not end up in the feed of the CHRO who is concerned about his/her people of the company and productivity issues at hand for the #WorkFromHome program. You’ll never reach this CHRO because it is not part of his/her scope to be researching technology solutions.

Did you know the LinkedIn membership is over 675 million people globally?

Did you know there are 9 billion content impressions in the LinkedIn feed every week?

Did you know only 3 million users share content weekly on LinkedIn?

This means 3 million users are getting 9 billion impressions on a weekly basis.

The Pivot

However, if you think strategically about who it is you want to reach, what fringe VP and CxOs you would like to introduce to your solution, then you begin to see the power of hashtags in your posts.  Perhaps if you used “#WorkFromHome with our #DataAnywhere strategy”, it would reach a broader audience outside your regular pool of influence and it may very well pique the interest of this CHRO who could then share with the IT director. This is the power of hashtags and why you should research and use them in every post on LinkedIn.

Organizing Your Content

Hashtags serve the primary purpose of organizing content based on the subject(s) of the conversation. For instance, if I happen to follow #WorkFromHome through my LinkedIn profile, there is a good chance this would have shown up in my feed. Whether I am a CHRO, VP of IT, Business Line Manager, Remote Worker, etc., it doesn’t matter, what matters is your content is now reaching more people with more compelling significance. What you have done by adding another hashtag to your post is expose it to the hundreds of thousands who already follow that hashtag in their feed, purposefully. By the way, if you look at LinkedIn today, #WorkFromHome has over 1 million people following that hashtag. People who don’t know a thing about your company but are interested in the Work From Home topic will get your post in their newsfeed. Think about that for a minute and how powerful it is to know you can easily reach more people by changing your social media plan to be more strategically aligned with your desired outcomes.

Here are some of the benefits of using hashtags in your posts.
  1. Expand your reach: You will increase your viewership outside of your normal sequestered group of followers through this dimension called hashtags. Those who may never have followed you before may in fact see your content and find something interesting.
  2. Prospects into Clients: If your hashtag strategy is sound and you create consistency with your voice and message through your posts, you may very well convert some of those “tire-kickers” into prospects and prospects into clients. But you’ll never know the power you possess if you don’t plan your social media strategy to align with your buyer’s journey, personas, etc.
  3. Keep track of the competition: Chances are your competition is using hashtags, so keep track of them and monitor what they are doing and whom they are potentially trying to reach by looking for the keywords they are using in the hashtag. You can see the conversations they are starting, how people are responding, and what they are saying about them.
  4. Increase your social following: If you continue to put out consistently compelling content that interests people who follow those hashtags you have identified, make sure you have a call to action in your post, “Follow us on {Fill in the social platform} to learn more about how we can {your benefit statement}”. If you aren’t doing that, you’re missing a key opportunity to grow your pond and types of fish in your pond.

Search, Find and Follow

It is very easy to research hashtags on LinkedIn.  Simply type in the hashtag in the search box of Linkedin using the following format

#WorkFromHome

Hit enter and it will show you how many are following that hashtag.  It will also bring up posts that use that hashtag in it.  From here you can even click “follow” to add this hashtag to your newsfeed on LinkedIn.

You’d be surprised by what you find when you start to do your research.  There are a number of paid services that will help you identify best hashtags to use as well, but if you want to test the waters before subscribing to any of those services, start small and simple and track the views of your post along with the engagement.

LinkedIn is a Business Networking Platform

As mentioned earlier, there are over 675 million users on LinkedIn, and while the US has the majority of the users, around 167 million, over 70% of the users on LinkedIn are outside the United States across the 200 countries where LinkedIn is in use.

Source: https://foundationinc.co/lab/b2b-marketing-linkedin-stats/

For global companies trying to reach adjacent markets, enter into new markets, or expand current markets, this represents a magnificent opportunity, if you just invest the time, resources, and money to do it right. There are amazing tools out there to help you research what hashtag is trending on LinkedIn.

If this blog doesn’t convince you to look long and hard at revamping your strategic social media marketing plan for the balance of 2020 and into 2021, then perhaps we should talk on the phone, over a teleconference call, or even lunch if you’re local to me. We can meet “mask-to-mask”, and have a dialogue.

Until then, here are some stats about LinkedIn you need to know in 2020.
• LinkedIn currently has over 675 million members.
• The network has 303 million active monthly users, 40% of whom visit the site daily.
• 90 million senior-level influencers and 63 million decision-makers use LinkedIn.
• 92% of Fortune 500 companies use LinkedIn.
• 57% of companies had a LinkedIn company page in 2013.
• 46% percent of the social media traffic to B2B company sites is from LinkedIn.
• 97% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as a content distribution channel.
• Only 3 million LinkedIn users share content every week.
• In 2016, LinkedIn users published 130,000 posts monthly.
• LinkedIn is responsible for 80% of B2B leads from social media.

Wrapping up

In closing, don’t be afraid to use hashtags in your posts, it is probably one of the best pieces of metadata you’ll ever use from a marketing perspective, and it will live on through search engines for years to come. Think about the power and leverage you possess using this platform, in the right way.

David A. Chapa, Chief Analyst, Founder, The CTE Group

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