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Don’t Be a Twit

+ Posted by Peter Bowden

When did the "pound symbol" become redefined as a "hashtag"? Pay attention.

With the advent of Twitter, the hashtag has become a part of our daily socialization in, well, social media. And if you're using Twitter to tell your destination story, you need a plan. According to expert Lauren Dugan, "It’s easy enough to add one or two relevant hashtags to the end of a tweet – like #education, #technology, #marketing and other industry- or topic-specific keywords. But," she adds, "are you really maximizing on hashtags this way?"

The goal is getting tweets in front of more people, but how good are you at using hashtags? Here are some ways to push your hashtags to their limits:

Encourage user-generated content

Use hashtags to get more content. Your Twitter followers are the loyal and destination ambassadors. Consider creating a hashtag meant for your visitors to use when they tweet about your destination.

Encourage those destination ambassadors/visitors to take photos of themselves enjoying events, food, etc. in the destination. Once you’ve got some content, share those tweets. And always retweet. It's important to acknowledge followers for their role in creating content.

Run a cross-channel campaign

Hashtags are no longer exclusive to Twitter. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. support hashtags. Their purpose is to collect "content that includes a hashtag in a single page, typically sorted by popularity, most recent or a combination of the two."

Use this to your advantage when marketing on Twitter, but also maximize this strategy on these other platforms - Don't forget print! Just use a single hashtag for your campaign, and support it on all of your social profiles. Think about adding it to store signage, fliers, email signature, and anywhere else you're promoting the destination's campaign. This adds consistency in branding the destination and the message.

Have conversations in real-time

Create a hashtag designed to spark conversation. Think about this - a dedicated visitor hashtag that they can use to contact you with questions, comments and concerns. A "TwitterChat" might be used host Q and A. Lauren, explains that, "The use of hashtags puts the 'social' back in social media, and allows your brand to connect one-on-one with highly engaged fans. It can be great for building loyalty, increasing exposure, or improve your business’ public image."

SOURCE:  Lauren Dugan

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Peter F. Bowden, TMP

President & CEO, Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau

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