Using hashtags to promote your program

Creating a program hashtag on social media pages can improve program communication, marketing and awareness.

According the 2015 Pew Research, 87 percent of adults spend time online daily, and 76 percent of all internet users access at least one social networking site. With a large portion of the population spending time online, it is important to think about how volunteer organizations can maximize their social networking presence without it being time-consuming. Michigan State University Extension suggests one quick and easy way: create a hashtag specific to your program.

As a communication platform, social networking already provides a quick, easy and inexpensive way to communicate with program participants, supporters and funders or donors. Make it easier for people to find the content related to your program with a hashtag.

First, decide on a short and easy-to-remember phrase that could be used for the program as a hashtag. For example, Michigan 4-H uses #MI4H. Once the hashtag has been set, start sharing it widely with all your program participants. Hashtags become more effective the more they are used. Start using the hashtag on all of your social networking accounts with all of your posts and pictures. Share it in your newsletters, your email signature line and any other communications the program has.

Once people start using your program hashtag, anyone can easily see any of the content that is being “tagged” on a social networking site by clicking on the hashtag or doing a hashtag search. Platforms that see the most usage of hashtags are Instagram and Twitter. It’s important to keep an eye on the content that is being created and tagged with the program hashtag. Seeing what other social networking users are creating with the hashtag can help a program create additional content to share on social networking sites and see how people are engaged with your program. Sharing photos and posts that program participants have shared is a great way to engage followers. Just be sure to give credit when re-sharing content from someone else.

A program hashtag is great way to increase your program visibility and engage followers on your social networking sites. For more information about how volunteer programs can use social networking, see “Maximizing social networking usage” by MSU Extension. 

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