8 Steps for Twitter Hashtag Promotion

#btv Hashtag on TwitterIf you want to promote your Vermont Business on Twitter and reach beyond the people that already follow you, it’s time to focus on hashtags. Hashtags like #btv and #smallbiz allow you to tap into active communities and ongoing conversations without being constricted by followers or, if you’d like, location. This article is a primer on how to promote your VT business on Twitter using hashtags. Let’s get going!

1. Identify Your Twitter Promotion Objective(s)

State your objective in a single sentence, such as, “Increase reach by generating more ReTweets.” Remember:

  • It doesn’t have to be rocket science
  • It shouldn’t be complex
  • It needs to be understandable
  • It should be lofty yet attainable

2. Set Measurable Goal(s) for Success

This step applies to just about every Internet Maketing channel. (Shameless plug: I’d love to help market your VT business on the Internet.) If you don’t have a goal that can be measured, you won’t know how you’re doing, what to do if things get derailed, and if you’ve been successful.

Here’s an example goal for the earlier objective: “Generate at least 10 ReTweets per Tweet.”

3. Define Your Twitter Hashtag Promotion Strategy

#btv and #smallbiz Hashtags on Twitter's TweetDeckLayout the steps you will take to promote your business on Twitter, from choosing hashtags to tracking progress. Here is an example process:

  1. Identify target hashtags by searching for active discussions around relevant keywords on Twitter and exploring popular related hashtags on Hashtagify.me.
  2. Monitor the use of target hashtags as well as general brand mentions. This can be accomplished using TweetDeck by setting up columns based on each hashtag.
  3. In addition to promoting your own content, use Google Alerts to gather current news that would be of interest to your target market and TweetDeck to collect relevant tweets.
  4. To save time, schedule a bunch of tweets at once that will be shared over time via TweetDeck. Always include your target hashtags and the Twitter handles of any related organizations (to ensure a broad, active discussion and increase the likelihood of ReTweets and follows). Tweets should be entertaining yet informative to catch peoples’ attention.
  5. Consider creating and promoting your own hashtag to help active followers stay informed. It’s an uphill battle to popularize a new hashtag if you’re not a major player on Twitter, but the more niche or local your focus, the more possible it is. Recommendations: If you decide to create your own hashtag, keep three points in mind:
    1. It should not be currently in use by others
    2. It should be memorable (funny, quirky, relevant, surprising)
    3. It should be short. After all, space is limited. If your hashtag eats real estate, people won’t use it because it doesn’t allow them room to speak.

Consider strategy your road map on your Twitter promotion journey. Lean on it early in the game when nothing’s happening, allow it to reign you in as things pick up steam so you don’t overspend time on the campaign, and, finally, let it limit your energy expenditures by making it clear if you should call it quits (see Step 8).

Take a Moment to Catch Your Breath!

If you run your own Internet and social marketing activities, there’s a good chance this information either A) makes perfect sense, or B) overwhelms the heck out of you. If you fall into Camp B, it might be worth your while to chat with me about your situation and goals, and see if I can help make the process easier through consulting and coaching. Don’t hesitate to Contact IM Vermont for local Internet Marketing consulting.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post…

4. Approach Twitter & Web Allies

No matter what type of business you’re in, there are people discussing it all the time on Twitter. If your fan base isn’t big or active, keep an eye out for people or companies with whom you might form an alliance of sorts. Follow them, drop them a positive note, ReTweet something of theirs which has relevance to your audience. Basically, see if you can strike up a mutually-beneficial connection where both sides help the other. Don’t spam them, of course. If they start to ReTweet your messages on occasion, great! If not, let them go and keep fishing.

If you already command a good size following and enjoy frequent ReTweets, this step may not be crucial, but it should still be considered.

The main idea here is that Twitter is all about sharing, mutual support, and value. Nobody appreciates spam or heavy self-promotion. Use the medium to connect with interested parties, listen as much as you talk, and practice some give-and-take. Sounds like life advice, huh? “Life, 140 characters at a time.”

5. Launch Your Twitter Hashtag Promotion Campaign

Research is done, goals are defined, hashtags and search queries are set to be monitored. You’ve crafted your strategy, scheduled your activities, and gotten the lay of the social land.

Now…tweet. Start. Get going, in whatever way makes sense. Get some activity under way before you move on to Step 6 (or 7, if 6 isn’t appropriate). But make sure your expectations are realistic! Nothing is likely to happen overnight; in fact, your ultimate goal might never be reached. Be patient, follow your process, watch for blips and spikes that might represent unforeseen opportunities, and above all monitor your goals for signs of progress. (An Excel or Google spreadsheet might be your best friend.)

6. Consider a Press Release to Spread Word Offline

This step is a judgement call. To figure out if a press release about your Twitter campaign is appropriate, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Is your Twitter activity newsworthy from the point of view of your community or market?
  • Does it represent a fresh new angle on social media that no one’s talking about?
  • Is it a big step forward for businesses in your area or marketplace?
  • Have you been running your campaign and getting surprising results worth sharing?

If you answer “yes” to any of these, a press release might be something worth pursuing. We won’t get into the specifics of how to craft and distribute a PR, but if you need help Contact IM Vermont for recommendations (it’s not my forte, but I know people!) or do a Google search for “how to write a press release.”

7. Regularly Monitor Progress

  • Check saved hashtag and keyword searches in TweetDeck daily. “Daily?!” If you can. Probably sounds like a lot (unless you’re also an Internet marketing consultant), so adjust frequency to your own schedule. “Once a week?” Probably not often enough, based on the speed with which “news” becomes “old news.”
  • Monitor tweet feeds and watch for shifts in activity or the appearance of new and related hashtags.
  • Be sure to track any hashtags you create in case other people or organizations use them to share news and events.
  • Lastly, don’t forget Google Analytics! All this Twitter stuff has a purpose, right? To drive more business. Use Analytics to monitor traffic from Twitter and see how many visitors convert into customers. If business increases, keep up the good work! If you don’t see increased traffic, or you do but it all just bounces, that’s a sign you’re not getting any return on your social media investment. Need help in this area? IM Vermont is a Web Analytics and ROI specialist.

8. Conclude the Campaign: Win, Lose or Tie?

Everything must come to an end! (Okay, not everything. If you’re operating a long-term branding campaign there may be no end in sight. But even in those cases it would be foolish not to track results.)

This Step is different than monitoring. Here, you want to take an overview of your original measurable goals (e.g. increase number of followers, increase number of ReTweets, etc.) and determine if you’ve reached them, and whether or not it would be advisable to continue.

No matter how long a time your campaign is set to run, along the way you need to review actual results against goals and decide:

  • Are you right on track? Then keep on as planned!
  • Are you way behind? If you see lackluster results over an extended period, it might be wise to call this a “loss” and stop expending resources. Back to the drawing board, but with valuable lessons learned.
  • Are you way ahead? Don’t laugh, it could happen, and if you don’t keep on top of unexpected positive developments and adjust strategy accordingly, you could miss a huge opportunity to maximize a runaway success. You might need to add more hours or people to manage the campaign. You might need to bring in a web analytics consultant to help you decide what kind of actual impact it’s having on your business (maybe <ahem> Contact IM Vermont?). And so on.
  • Are you not getting the results you anticipated, but something completely unexpected has cropped up? Call it a “tie,” then consider scrapping your original goals and strategy and craft a new approach to go after this development.

Good luck with your business promotion and marketing adventures, on Twitter and beyond! If you’re trying this out or have questions, please share in a Comment.