Twitter hashtagJimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake went viral a little over a week ago after appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon with their “#Hashtag” skit (#classic). The point of the skit is to make fun of the overuse of hashtags in online conversations, but there are lessons to be learned in the use of hashtags to market your small business.

Do not overuse hashtags: It’s possible to compose a tweet that has relevance to multiple topics, but try to limit yourself to one or two hashtags per tweet. Remember, the purpose of a hashtag is to label your tweet as part of a larger conversation. You’re creating a lot of noise in the conversation by including more than a few hashtags per tweet and you might also lose the interest of followers who start to see your overuse of hashtags as spammy.

Use relevant hashtags: It might be tempting to jump on whatever is trending on Twitter with the hope someone new will see your tweet, but it really doesn’t benefit your business, and can possibly harm your online reputation to use tags like #yolo, #swag, #ratchet, or #twerk.

Join the right conversations: You can join the social conversation but limit tweets and tags to those related to, if not absolutely relevant to, your business. If you’re a florist, you can re-tweet photos and hashtags related to celebrity weddings if your focus is on the flowers and your potential customers. Think carefully about the hashtags you use, how they are relevant to your business, and the reputation they make for your business.

Create a call to action: The absolute best way to engage customers is through a call to action and you can do that with a hashtag for a small business. Ask customers to post comments or photos related to your business using a hashtag you create. You can even offer discounts or giveaways to reward customer engagement.

Hopefully these tips help you think more strategically about tweets and the use of hashtags. Small business hashtags can be #fun to use, but if you’re tweeting on behalf of your business, you’ll want to give the hashtags you use a bit of consideration and thought.

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