First published on TSE Consulting.

At this stage, it is safe to assume that most sports organisations have some form of digital presence. However, it is not enough anymore to simply have a website alone. With the level of noise infiltrating people’s online lives on a daily basis, organisations need to have some other vehicle for getting their messages to their audience. The answer is most frequently found through the use of social media solutions such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others.

So, assuming that your organisation already has some degree of presence social media, you may be asking yourself what is all this you are hearing about “hashtags” and why should I take note? Hashtags are defined simply as words or phrases preceded by a hash sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic. While they were first introduced to the mainstream by Twitter, they have now become a ubiquitous part of conversation and can be seen across the internet and even offline, on the back of buses and adorning billboards. So why should organisations get accustomed to using hashtags in their communication? What benefits do they have and why should you deviate from simply constructing your communications writing in the “traditional” tried-and-trusted manner?

 

Here are 3 key reasons why hashtags should be taken seriously:

 

1. Capture your brands message

If you thought that defining a mission and vision for your company was tough, in today’s world of 140 characters or less, once sentence can already be way too much to process for the average information consumer! Hashtags or a number of hashtags can be used as the anchor component of an organisations marketing strategy. From a traditional marketing perspective this is most closely aligned to what would have previously been known as a slogan or jingo. Successful examples are Nike’s use of #makeitcount or Usain Bolt and Puma’s #foreverfaster campaign.

 

2. Target your audience

The relationship of the hashtag to the search function of social media websites is one of the most #FundamentalElements of the hashtag. People searching in Twitter, for example, will be more likely to be directed to word-matched content if it has been associated to a hashtag. For instance, if I type “Get ready for the Paris 2014 X-Ball Championships in 2 days time”, a user searching for “X-Ball”, “Paris” or “World Championships” may not find my message lost out there in the twittersphere. However, if I rewrite it as “Get ready for the #Paris2014 #X-Ball #WorldChampionships in 2 days time”, then Twitters intelligent algorithm-based search function will be more likely to direct them towards my communication accordingly. Again, it just helps you bring out your message above the increasing noise and increase the accuracy of connecting with your target audience.

 

3. Start conversations and become a trend

Trends basically refer to topics that are attracting interest on social media. An item that is “trending” will attract other users to see what all the fuss is about. Hashtags are a key part of determining trends within social media platforms as they mark communications as relating to topics, thus allowing these topics can be quantified in terms of their popularity and interest. By incorporating hashtags into your communications, your organisation can not only participate in trends but also create them.


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