If you don’t understand hashtags, you are not alone. When talking about social media with business owners there is one question I get more than others – what’s up with hashtags?
3 reasons to use hashtags
People often used Twitter’s search feature to look up certain topics (social media, education, graphic design, etc.) and hashtags serve as a way to categorize your tweet for search. For example, for this blog post I might tweet:
The do’s and don’ts of hashtags (link) #socialmedia #twitter
The topic of this post is Twitter and social media, but that isn’t in the title. By adding those hashtags on the end, people who are searching for articles on Twitter and social media will now be able to find my post.
Hashtags are also used on other social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram as a way to search, categorize and research content topics and categories.
Events or campaigns
Companies often create their own hashtag for a campaign or an event so it is easier for them and customers to know what is being said about the event or campaign and to follow along in real-time conversation.
One of our clients is the Secure360 Conference held in St. Paul each year. This May, the conference hosted more than 1,500 people. Everyone from speakers to attendees to sponsors used the event hashtag as a means to communicate with each other during the event. Not only did this allow for effective (and timely) communication, it also provided Secure360 Conference with a great resource for feedback and ideas for next year.
Finally, hashtags can be used for fun. People often use a hashtag as a way to write a side note or sarcastic remark about the rest of their tweet. For example:
I want to take a nap, but the maid is here. #FirstWorldProblems
Sometimes in content marketing you need to do things just for fun. You don’t want your brand to seem like an advertising robot on social media, so you need to do things that are interesting and relevant to your audience. Fun hashtags can be one way you do that.
The do’s and don’ts of hashtags
DO create your own
Just like Secure360 mentioned above, your company should think of its own hashtag for your next campaign or event. You will easily be able to engage with your audience because you will be able to find their tweets and you will get much more honest feedback then you ever would on a survey. Hashtags are also a great way to respond to customer service-related questions in real time. Or, to provide support and promotion for other events that your company may be sponsoring/attending as well.
DON’T forget to research
Do not create your own hashtag before doing some research. A minor issue you want to prevent is using the same hashtag as someone else. It will confuse your customers and make monitoring the hashtag more difficult. The major issue you want to prevent is a bad hashtag. It would be terrible to start promoting your hashtag only to find out the acronym you chose was an acronym for something inappropriate or could be interpreted as inappropriate. Google your acronym and run it by a small focus group before committing to it in order to prevent a scandal.
A few tools that we like to help you out:
DO use trending hashtags
Use a tool like Trendsmap to find trending topics and if it makes sense to do so, get involved in those conversations online using pertinent hashtags (but don’t be a hashtag troll; your content and brand should fit the situation). Use specific social media channels to decipher trends as well. Facebook recently changed its algorithm so that posts that talk about trending topics get more reach. So post about the trending topics that are featured on the right-hand side of your newsfeed (when relevant to your audience) and plan posts ahead of time about topics you know will be trending – ex. the Super Bowl.
DON’T use too many
No #one wants to #read an #update #riddled with #hashtags; it looks obnoxious and it is hard to read. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than three hashtags per tweet, but I would even suggest sticking with just one or two. The hashtag is supposed to be helpful, not annoying.
Additional hashtag tips
- Use capital letters to make hashtags more readable (ie: #AlleeEvents instead of #alleeevents).
- Skip the punctuation or spaces. Hashtags need to stick together without apostrophes, quotation marks or space between words.
- Use the official hashtag for any conference or event you attend (most of them have them).
- Get your learn on! Use hashtags to follow a Twitter chat or discussion online.
When used correctly, hashtags are not just for kids on Twitter; they can significantly increase your brand’s reach and engagement.
Got a hashtag question? Leave your question in the comment box below or send us a tweet about it!