05/19/14

Finding Success with #Hashtags

Hashtags. They should be simple tags to help others find your posts, but it doesn’t always seem to be the case. What gives?

Since Twitter introduced the hashtag as the pound sign plus keyword in 2006, the hashtag has been introduced to the Oxford English dictionary, adopted across all popular social media platforms, and can even be heard as a regular part of spoken conversations - and a spoof on Saturday Night Live. But the popularity of this powerful social tool is hindering its original purpose: hashtags are now being used because they are trendy, not to denote topics that are trending.

That idea may be a bit counter intuitive - shouldn’t people using hashtags all the time be a good thing? Nope. The errant use of hashtags has made it difficult for new social media users to properly learn how to hashtag.

“What could be so hard about inserting a # before a word?” we all ask ourselves. In reality, nothing, but there is a crucial difference between hashtagging and hashtagging well.

Including a hashtag in your post is a good first step towards bettering your brand identity.

But, doing it unprofessionally could do more harm than good. A properly used hashtag should be your best friend - treat it well and it will help you spread your brand and make new friends.

Worried? Don’t be - we’ve got you covered with a list of do’s and don’ts for hashags.

If you’re new to hashtags, here’s the skinny on using them: To create a trending topic, insert a # in front of a relevant word or phrase  you want to be categorized and easily searched. Once the hashtag is in place, the word or phrase will become a link that anyone can click on to see all of the public posts that include that hashtag. For a business this can be extremely useful as it allows you to engage with your followers and see what they are saying about your brand. So, the hashtags you select are crucial.

When you’re doing this, be sure to avoid these common hashtag mistakes:

1. Creating hashtags that are too long or so specific no one else is using them.

These long and confusing hashtags leave you at risk because they are essentially useless. Not only are they often illegible, but they are easier to misspell. Plus, if you’re creating a super long hashtag for an event or campaign, people might not use it since it takes up too much of the tweet and takes a lot of thought to write out.

2. Hashtagging every word in your post.

Yep, this is definitely a bad idea. Hashtagging every word in your post makes you look unprofessional and inexperienced (and it drives people crazy!) Enough said. Plus, it defeats the purpose of using tags that can be found in search, ruining your ability to trend properly. Have you ever searched #the? It is essentially a collage of pre-teen selfies, posts that look like they were tagged by mistake, and gibberish. Chances are, you do not want your brand to be associated with this posting potpourri, not only because these posts do not have anything to do with your brand, but also because your posts would be virtually unfindable among them.  

3. Using a well-known hashtag.

Avoid using a hashtag that is already associated with a major brand. Instead, make sure that your signature hashtag is as specific to your brand as possible. That way, when people search for it, posts that are associated with your brand are more likely to appear. Plus, it makes it easier for users to absorb the branding and automatically include it when they post.

4. Not hashtagging at all.

Omitting a hashtag from your post is a missed opportunity—and it could indicate to your followers that you aren’t social media savvy.  Though it may take some trial and error to become a hashtagging pro, it is definitely worth giving hashtags a go.

Have you had success with your hashtags? If not, how will you switch them up?