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What can the #poundsign do for your marketing strategy?

If you’re a business owner, you know how tough it can be to stay connected and remain relevant in your industry. Well, in the year 2014, social media marketing can help you do just that. Each social channel is different, providing opportunities to reach unique slices of your target audience and populated with people using and consuming the Internet in different ways.

Today, we’re talking about Twitter, the highly interactive online community where people share opinions, ideas, stories and news, and where content flies around faster than once imaginable. This thriving social media tool provides you with a constant feed of real-time updates from millions of people.

But the real superstar is the network’s hashtag system and how it revitalized business-to-consumer and business-to-business relationships online. Here are two ways you can use hashtags to optimize your social media marketing efforts.

#Focus

When it comes to the social side of online marketing, you want to start conversations with those who will listen and react. That’s what targeted marketing is all about! Well, by simply inserting a hashtag into your tweet, you instantly join a community – a community of people talking about your topic.

For example, let’s say you own a pizza business in Raleigh. You tweet, “Hey #Raleigh! What is your go-to Friday night #pizza craving?” Someone on Twitter might search #Raleigh or #pizza and either way, your business or local franchise will show up. You’ve just connected with someone local, someone craving pizza, or someone who is both! With over 600 million active users, your hashtag is sure to catch some attention.

Next step? Respond to anyone who tweets back at you, and search for those hashtags yourself. The same way they can find your business tweet, you can find their pizza craving tweet. New customers on a silver platter, if you ask me.

Relieve #Awkwardness

Have you ever joined in on a conversation, thinking you knew what everyone was talking about, but in fact, you were far off track? That’s awkward. Well, you don’t have to be that awkward new guy anymore. Twitter provides users with worldwide trends because they know news isn’t news if it’s not current and relevant. Its database gathers the top 10 most hashtagged terms (in real time) and lists them for users.

More importantly, users can change settings to see the top 10 hashtags for specific cities, countries, or worldwide. With hashtags, you can join hot conversations with potential customers and tell them about your service or product. Consider it your business’s cure for marketing awkwardness.

In short, hashtags allow your business to get connected and stay connected. Who wouldn’t want that?

How are you using hashtags to join the conversation your customers are having on Twitter?