Hashtags are powerful tools for categorizing and delivering content to people who would be interested in it. And when used correctly, they can help dental practices grow their audience among the people most likely to become new patients.
It seems like no matter where you go these days, hashtags are everywhere. They’re on billboards, buses, and in the corner of the TV screen during nearly every popular sporting or cultural event. But if you didn’t grow up with social media, it might not be totally clear what hashtags do or why they’re important — much less how they would apply growing your dental practice! Read on for a quick explanation of hashtags and some tips on how you can use them effectively to build your practice’s online presence.
What Is a Hashtag?
A hashtag is simply a word, preceded by a pound sign (#), that serves to group social media posts under a topic. For example, many people posting their thoughts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram about the new Star Wars: Rogue One movie wrote #RogueOne somewhere in their post. Then, anybody who wanted to check out the conversation about Rogue One could simply search or click on that hashtag and see all the posts that included it.
Using relevant hashtags is a great way to reach out to more people that would be interested in your practice and your valuable content. Follow these simple steps to mastering hashtags:
1. Know the Format
On all platforms, hashtags must follow a specific format. First, there must be a pound sign (#), followed by a string of letters and numbers with no spaces, no punctuation and no special characters. You may include capital and lowercase letters. Examples: #dentalhumor, #CosmeticDentistry, #Tulsa, #Goodbye2016. As a general rule, only include one or two hashtags in a Facebook or Twitter post. Instagram does not penalize a post for having too many hashtags, but avoid using so many that the post looks cluttered.
2. Participate in Trending Topics
Certain hashtags become so popular that they are listed on the front pages of Facebook and Twitter. Investigate the conversation happening in one of these trending topics and determine if you can contribute something relevant from your practice. A post that includes a trending hashtag will have a much wider reach and a better chance for engagement.
3. Use Hashtags Relevant to Your Audience
Along with hashtags that will help you build connections with your existing patient base, think about what hashtags a potential patient might realistically search for help with dental issues. These might include your city name as a hashtag (example: #SaltLakeCity), #OralHealth, #FlossingTips, or #WisdomTeeth.
Putting a hashtag into Facebook’s or Twitter’s search box will also help you find more related hashtags you can use.
4. Include a Hashtag for Promotions, Campaigns, and Events
Creating a hashtag for your practice promotions and campaigns makes it easy for patients and potential patients to find relevant information, and will help you maintain top-of-mind awareness. For example, some of our clients have a weekly prize giveaway and tag those posts with #WinItWednesday.
Also, nearly every continuing education event your team attends will announce an official hashtag for attendees to use while they participate. Including event hashtags in your posts is a great way to network with other dental industry professionals.
5. Create a Branded Hashtag for Your Practice
A hashtag specifically for your practice can add a little extra flair to your posts, kind of like a slogan. For example, a practice named Downtown Orthodontics might tag each photo of patients who have finished braces treatment with #SmileByDowntownOrtho. Include this branded hashtag in newsletters, emails and other communications.
Reach More People With Smart Hashtags
Across all social media platforms, posts that include relevant hashtags have greater reach and a better chance to receive interaction. Explore popular hashtags and contribute to conversations! You’ll find it’s an excellent way to amplify your social media messages and build your reputation as a savvy, active and engaged dental team.