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Hashtags give small businesses real value

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Small-business owners understand social media is a tool they must use to interact with customers on multiple platforms. While it's always possible to get hacked on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, firms are protected cyberliability insurance policies, Despite some of the negatives that can ensue, joining the online conversation provides too many benefits for professionals to be scared away by the potential security risks.

Recent findings from a survey conducted by RadiumOne, a programmatic advertising solutions provider, showed 41 percent of consumers said they use hashtags on social networks to communicate personal ideas and feelings. Small-business owners who are active on these sites can benefit from hearing real insight from consumers that can help them change their marketing strategies or even adjust certain products and/or services to meet audience wants and needs.

"Unlike other forms of social sharing, hashtags implicitly reflect customer sentiment and are one of the most powerful ways consumers have to vocalize their tastes and preferences at scale in a real-time fashion," said Kamal Kaur, vice president of mobile at RadiumOne.

Mobile users tend to post more hashtags
People are constantly using Twitter to talk about brands, even if they are aren't sharing serious commentary. According to the study, 71 percent of regular hashtag users post on social media platforms from their mobile devices, and more than half of respondents said they would use hashtags more if they knew they would be rewarded by companies for doing so. Sometimes people will simply add hashtags to their tweets and Facebook posts for their amusement.

"Fifty percent of respondents said they would explore new content through hashtags,"  Kaur said in a recent interview with VentureBeat. "People even use hashtags in Facebook, even though you can't search by them yet there." 

Hashtags prove effective
Small-business owners concerned about the effectiveness of hashtags may need to take a closer look at RadiumOne's findings. Forty-three percent of respondents said they believe hashtags are useful, while 34 percent actually use them to learn more about their favorite brands. By searching certain hashtags, small-business owners may be able to find some new customers thanks to social media.

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