Throughout time, people have experienced common events separately from each other.  An event occurs, and a whole bunch of individuals were part of it in some way.  There are many forums we have created for ourselves to be able to have discussions and compare notes:  the water cooler conversation, book clubs, viewing parties.  But none with the potential reach of the custom hashtag.  Today, we’ll talk about using a custom hashtag to create a loyal community for your business.

First, you may remember this tip I wrote about the power of the hashtag.  Hashtags are also a way to grow your audience, and if you are trying to make brand new people aware of what you are doing, common hashtags are a good way to get started.  They serve a different purpose, but one that has a place in gaining new followers.

The custom hashtag has a different function.  Your goal with a custom hashtag is to build conversation among your audience.  To introduce them to each other.  To help them generate their own relationships within your community.  In doing so, your whole community becomes stronger.

Your goal with a custom hashtag is to build conversation among your audience. #business #smb #socialmedia Click To Tweet

For example, you are reading this Marketing Tip of the Week.  You may be a small business owner or marketer.  Regardless, you’re interested in marketing for business.  There are a lot of people out there reading this who have those things in common with you, but you don’t know them.  You could find them if I assigned #MFEMhashtag (a weird one, I know) to this tip.  You could all find each other and talk about what you thought, what you learned.

Or – if not a custom hashtag just for this tip – I could give you a custom hashtag of #MFEMcommunity to talk about any experiences you have with my content.

As you can see, it is easy and cost-free to create your custom hashtag.  You come up with the idea and start using it.  The trick is having a community already so that it gets good use!

The bigger your audience, the more people will find each other through your custom hashtag.  As they develop strong relationships, they become bigger fans.  The custom hashtag gives your audience a way to get involved in your community.  If they stopped following you attentively, they wouldn’t just lose your content.  They would lose the relationships they are beginning to form.

The custom hashtag gives your audience a way to get involved in your community. #business #smallbiz #smb #socialmedia Click To Tweet

Is there a TV show you watch?  Ever have such a moving experience when you were watching it that you just had to talk about it with someone?  Or were so confused by it that you needed to bounce your ideas off someone else?  I think about a show like “Lost” and how the beginnings of the online forum world changed the viewer experience.  Every episode held mysteries, and you had to wait at least a week until the next one came out.  But fans took to forums in the days between, coming up with theories, making observations, and keeping each other engaged.  With a custom hashtag, the conversation is more mainstream, easier to find, and more immediate.

The use of custom hashtags is something that I see work really well with podcasts or hosted shows that have different topics each time.  They have the opportunity to create a custom hashtag for each episode and identify the microcommunity of fans that consumed that specific episode.

So how could this work for your business?  What types of things do you do that generate an audience?  What events do you have?  What topics do you discuss?  What themes do you create?  As your audience grows in number, think about how you can use a tool like a custom hashtag to help them meet each other and connect about their experiences.

Looking for more ideas for how to use social media to keep people connected to your business?  Check out A Crash Course in Online Marketing here!