Many social networks, notably Twitter, use hashtags to make it easy for people to find tweets related to a specific topic. A hashtag is simply a keyword or phrase preceded by a # to indicate what the tweet is about. Hashtags are often used by event organizers to allow attendees to follow what other attendees are saying about the event. Here are some examples:
- The 2016 Worldwide Radio Summit used #WWRS16
- The 2016 Podcast Movement Conference used #PM16
- Conclave 41 used #Concave41
— Paul Jacobs (@PaulJacobsMedia) July 18, 2016
Sometimes, people try and hijack hashtags, tapping into the popularity of a trending topic and using it to push people to something else. For example, somebody might tweet out a link to an ad for their dietary supplement using the hashtag for the Grammys in the hopes of attracting some errant clicks. This spammy technique is frowned upon. Not only does it annoy people, but it isn't particularly effective for the hijacker either.
However, there is a benign way that your radio station can hijack hashtags — particularly hashtags for local events. Here's how:
1. Identify popular local hashtags.
First, you'll need to figure out which hashtags you want to hijack. You want to find hashtags that are being used a lot in your market, but not beyond your market. Don't try to hijack national or international hashtags; if the hashtag is too popular, you'll get lost in al the noise. Besides, you only care if local people see your tweets because they're the only ones who can tune into your station.
There are a few ways to identify local hashtags. If there are big venues in the area, such as a convention center, concert arena, or college campus, check their websites for a calendar of events. That calendar will often link out to webpages for each event. On the event webpage, find a link the event organizer's Twitter account, and check their Twitter stream for any hashtags about the upcoming event. You can also look for event calendars on the local newspaper, TV stations, city magazines, or even other radio stations, and then find event hashtags in the same way.
Another way to find local hashtags is to use a site like TrendsMap.com, which lets you zero in on the hashtags in a particular area. If you find a hashtag and you don't know what it references, you can look it up on a site like TagDef.com.
Create a spreadsheet with a running list of any hashtags that are likely to recur again in the future, such as hashtags used for annual events. This will make it easier for you to hijack hashtags in the future.
2. Create a piece of web content that will interest followers of the hashtag and tweet it.
The more relevant you can make your content to the hashtag followers, the better. For example, if there's an arts and wine festival in your town using the hashtag #ArtsAndWine2016, here are some pieces of content that you may want to consider:
- A preview of the event
- An interview with the organizer or exhibitors
- A guide to the event, including info on parking, prices, etc.
Of course, you may not be able to create an original piece of content for every event that uses a hashtag, so you may want to focus on a few of the biggest events. For smaller events with hashtags, it's useful to have some broader but still relevant content On standby. For example, you could create a list of “5 Restaurants Every Visitor to Portland Should Try” or “5 Things You Didn't Know About the City of Omaha.” Tweet out a link to this content with the appropriate hashtag when #ComicCon2016, the #WarpedTour, or the #NursesConvention comes to town.
The most important thing is to post a link to content that is both compelling and relevant. Otherwise, you're just being spammy.
3. Measure the results.
Be sure to use a link shortening service that provides analytics, such as Bit.ly or Hootsuite's Ow.ly, when you tweet out your content. This way, you'll be able to track how many people clicked on the link to your content. You'll also want to look at your Google Analytics to see how many people came to your content by way of Twitter. These two numbers should be in the same ballpark.
At first, it will be difficult to tell if a piece of content works or doesn't work because of the hashtag or the content itself, but if you experiment over time, you should be able to get a feel for what produces the best results. For example, you may find that restaurant suggestions work but city trivia does not. Or you may find that the hashtags for events with more attendees work much better than events with less attendees. Adjust your hashtag hijacking strategy accordingly.
Hashtags are a very useful way to keep tabs on what's going on in your market and attract traffic back to your radio station's website. Get into the conversation!
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