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The 10 lives of a #hashtag

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A few weeks ago I met a group of lovely people whose enthusiasm for social media has captivated me. They are on a mission to increase social media awareness and build an engaged community within their field. I felt so inspired by their drive that besides writing this blog to you all, I’d like to dedicate it to them: the social champions of #RSNA13.  

Much of the conversation related to the RSNA event took place on Twitter so I figured exploring the possible lives of a hashtag would be an appropriate topic for this post. There are many places this little pound sign followed by a string of letters can live. Only the sky is the limit – literally. You could even skywrite your hashtag. But before we go down that path, let’s look at 10 ways you can make your hashtags part of what you do outside of Twitter to facilitate a continued dialogue with and amongst your audience.

  1. Digital channels: This includes your website and any type of mobile presence besides your other social channels. For example, nowadays people often put hashtags on their Facebook posts too. It’s not so much about encouraging others to share their Facebook content; it’s more about self-expression. Hashtags are quickly becoming a part of our daily digital lives with little regard for what channel we’re on. If you want to have a giggle about what a conversation filled with hash tags sounds like in real life, check out Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon’s #Hashtag video on YouTube.  
  2. Digital assets: Hashtags may appear on banners, promoted digital content in any kind of online publication, emails, online brochures, at-a-glance documents, white papers, presentations, online games, digital signage and other digital collateral. Anything you put on the web or share in a digital format could sport a hashtag when it makes sense.
  3. Print material: Print advertising, editorial content, offline brochures, flyers, business cards and URL cards are a few examples of adding another dimension to your communications.
  4. TV and radio advertising: Commercials, on-screen advertisements, social feeds, and contact information are good ways to bring attention to a topic you want to rally people around.
  5. Outdoor advertising: Billboards, large banners on buildings, sides of transportation vehicles, headrests on shuttles, airports and so on provide other good integration points.    
  6. Events and shows: Booth and venue signage, event invitation materials and handouts are good reminders of where conversations can continue.  
  7. Promotional giveaways: Companies put their name, web address and phone number on their promotional pens, notepads and so on, why not add a hashtag?
  8. Clothing: A few years ago, I dressed up as a hashtag for Halloween (I am not kidding.) I created a T-shirt with popular hashtags on the front and one big hashtag on the back: #omgimtrending. The funny thing was that people were rushing to Twitter to see what showed up for this hashtag. Maybe I should put it on a hat next year…
  9. Products: I’m just waiting for the day that hashtags appear on the packaging of my favorite products. And maybe this is a little far-reaching but as more companies become social, more will be interested in integrating social capabilities into their offerings to allow their customers to connect with each other and with the company from within the product.
  10. Friends: Ask your friends and fans to share your hashtag with others. They can bring a great deal of passion and authenticity to your cause and help get the word out.

Am I too hashtag happy? Could be. Do I think that there should be a hashtag everywhere? No. But I do believe there should be hashtags wherever it makes sense because they provide another connection point with your audience, and enable unfiltered, multi-directional conversations around a common interest. As more people join the conversation, you’ll get more perspectives. And including your hashtag in other things you do can help bring new people into these conversations.

So what are you waiting for? #letsgo
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