Chris Messina invented the hashtag on Twitter in August of 2007. Using the pound sign to connect words made it simple to find and follow specific topics. The concept gained traction in October of that year, when people began using the hashtag #SanDiegoFire to keep followers up to date on the surrounding forest fires.
Since then, the hashtag has spread, becoming a part of our culture and compatible with all forms of social media. They are a new way to clearly shape your voice.
Because the hashtag has taken over pop culture, photographers must jump on board and capitalise on these community-building links.
Marketing with Hashtags
Before we begin, remember the following general guidelines for using and creating hashtags:
Before using a hashtag, look it up to see what it is associated with.
Use/create shorter, easier-to-spell hashtags.
Limit the number of hashtags you have associated with your company.
Check out the most popular hashtags.
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, here are six things you can do with the hashtag to fully integrate your photography brand into the social media realm.
1. Create a Hashtag for Your Brand
To make a unique hashtag, use your company name or tagline. Something that is simple for customers to find and use. Use this hashtag on all social media platforms in every post you make.
2. Make use of event and campaign hashtags
Engage your audience in events or campaigns that your company is organising or supporting. You can even challenge people to use your hashtag in posts with specific content. This strategy can be used to demonstrate to your clients what your company believes and stands for.
This fall, REI launched #OptOutside in response to the insanity of Black Friday marketing, encouraging their followers and employees to go outside. It is an excellent example of demonstrating what REI stands for while also appealing to a large anti-Black-Friday audience. This also applies to any events you may be covering. Hashtags have become a common feature of weddings and other events, so coordinating them with your social media accounts may result in more exposure for your photos.
3. Make Use of Relevant and Thoughtful Hashtags
#smile #sunshine #photography #pictures #justinbieber #everyimaginablehashtag
If you have a friend who uses 23 hashtags in every post, you will understand my annoyance. This is known as hashtag spam. We must put a stop to this abusive behaviour.
Instead, use hashtags that are relevant to your content, make sense, and are representative of your photography and brand. For example, try using only four hashtags: your brand’s hashtag, your event/hashtag, campaign’s a hashtag related to the content, and a tag related to your location.
4. Make use of your hashtags across all social media platforms.
Make sure to include your brand and event hashtags in places other than Twitter and Instagram. Your unique hashtag should appear on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Vine, and even Tumblr, demonstrating brand consistency and building brand recognition across the board.
To take it a step further, start using your hashtag on other brand materials such as signs, business cards, posters, websites, t-shirts, and so on. The more you show to the public eye, the more likely it is that you will build a community of followers.
5. Expand Your Reach by Connecting with Recent Clients
By sharing your work with different clients and companies, you have the opportunity to advertise to all of their friends and followers.
Post the work you’ve done for your clients, leave a comment about your positive experience working with them, include a link to more of your work, and use hashtags wisely.
Consider everyone in the bridal party when shooting a wedding – do you think any of those women will need a photographer at their wedding? Probably. If you post a photo and tag the bride and bridesmaids, you have not only advertised to those five women, but to all of their friends as well.
I’m not going to do the math, but that’s a lot of people, especially if you’re putting the photo on multiple platforms. Make a comment about how much fun you had and include the wedding hashtag!
6. Encourage Others to Use Your Hashtag
Offer challenges with prizes to customers who interact online while using your hashtag.
“Free large print of this photograph (the awesome picture you posted) for the next five people who share this with their friends,” for example. Make use of #(yourbrand)”
People love free things, so your product will be out there (and people will brag about getting it for free), and your brand will reach new audiences that you would not have reached otherwise.
You’ll have the entire community talking about you if you maintain consistency, creativity, and high-quality work. Consider hashtags, how you want to represent your photography brand, and how you want people to participate in the conversation.