There's many features to social media platforms you probably exhaust. Hashtagging might not be your top priority but it should definitely be reconsidered.
So why aren't people utilizing hashtags? Hashtags are great for discussions to occur on absolutely any topic and have a wide reach. The whole purpose is to be more discoverable. You get pooled into an infinite variety of posts in front of communities and users different to your intended target audience.
Yet, it only seems to be the bigger brands who are running a successful hashtagging campaign. The quick answer: they've done the necessary research.
You need to realize hashtagging posts means more than popping it on the end and hoping for the best. Twitter and Instagram are platforms that encourage hashtag marketing massively. You need to leverage topics you can tag into your posts so they are more discoverable. Find communities where your target audience resides by using the relevant hashtags-- this will encourage users to search your content and talk about your brand. To have a further reach tag a post with keywords you wouldn't usually use and can loosely tie in with your brand or content. This way you can encourage a different range of followers to use it, then they can share it and so on.
Let's take a look at the kinds of hashtags I believe you need to consider for your social media engagement to take off.
Your standard call-to-action post will include words like: 'share', 're-tweet', and 'comment'. The point of doing this is to get people to perform that action via your post, content, brand etc. The action has to be doable. Your post won't get any interaction if users aren't able to execute it-- so think about it and test it before putting it out there.
One of the best cat-to-action posts I've seen is the #ShareYourEars hashtag. Over on Twitter, Disney partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They created a campaign encouraging everyone to share a photo of them with their Mickey ears on. For every photo tweeted, Disney donated $5 to the foundation. It's hard not to contribute when it's for such a good cause. This also reinforced Disney's brand image of being compassionate and willingness to give back-- they raised a staggering $3 million.
Tip: Having a core message will win over most demographics-- everyone loves a good cause. Make it fun and easy to do.
Trending hashtags means a lot of users have included that hashtag in posts. Twitter's feature of this is highly used. Brands can tag a post with some personality to their content, get creative and branch outside of their typical demographic.
It's not just multi-million companies that jump on trending threads and get the most visibility. Every day of the week there are trending hashtags where anyone can tailor their content to it. There's the #MotivationMondays, #WisdomWednesdays and so on. These are quite broad and uncomplicated hashtags. Here's a great example of an account called, YoungMindsUK. They've posted raising awareness for mental health on #ThursdayThoughts, with a creative image and an inspiring story. They even included a call to action, from the wording of the post you can assume they post a story weekly via this hashtag.
Tip: On Twitter there isn't a set amount of likes, re-tweets or interaction you've got to hit for you to be listed at the top of the hashtag. It's a great way for brands to get more engagement and there's freedom on the type of content it is. Find trending hashtags that are relevant and you can tie back to your brand.
When you're sharing your own content. The content specific to your company. Start to include a signature hashtag relative to your brand.
Brand hashtagging allows you to start discussions with your followers. You can post key content explaining about your products/services and who you are. Great for the audience interested and great promotion for you. Long-time followers and those loyal to you are more likely to use the hashtag as well.
I love this Lays' example--they took to Twitter and started a brand hashtag: '#DoUsAFlavor'. It was original, a keyword was used which was relevant to them and they played on the fact people love expressing their opinions. Their following voted their favorite flavor and reached people who probably didn't follow the Lays' account. As a result of just one hashtag, the pre-launch of the winning flavor got a lot of engagement.
Tip: Ensure the hashtag is easy to spell and relatively short. People like convenience and you want your audience to be able to search for it and add it in without hassle. Use your image and culture, if you're all about the humorous and fun side-- channel it.