Whether you love them or hate them, hashtags are here to stay! Coming on to the scene with trepidation in 2007, the trend has only gained huge momentum since then and now you cannot go by a day on social channels without coming across hashtags. There are funny, inspirational, weird, serious, trending, all kinds of hashtags and the best part is anybody can make a hashtag (#SocialMediaRocks) – See what I did there? All you need to add a pound sign in front of a word and it becomes a hashtag!
A simple explanation of hashtag would be that it is a word or group of words preceded by a pound (#) sign. You don’t need any coding experience or special software to turn a word into a hashtag. Just add a pound sign and you are good to go. Ensure that there are no spaces, no punctuation and no special characters in between. You can distinguish words by using a capital letter for instance, a very popular hashtag by Nike distinguishes the different words with a capital letter ##MakeItCount (when you read this, you know it is “Make It Count”)
Does it mean #You #Can #Add #anything #as #hashtags? Nope. Adding anything and everything as hashtags will not only make your tweet/post look bad but will also annoy your followers. Just like how too many cooks spoil the broth, too many hashtags make you look awful!
Actually, in geek speak, hashtags are meta-data tag which is used to group conversations. For instance, if you are interested to follow fitness topic, you can search with #fitness and any tweet which uses that hashtag would come up in search and you can follow the people who have used them.
If you are looking to dip your toe into this social media fad, here’s some dos and don’ts you need to follow:
- Research about what floats in the industry you are in. For instance, if you are a small business, find out all the hashtags related to your line of businesses and use the hashtags to spread your message across.
- Get specific. Find people and companies sharing your interest in specific themes. The more specific you are, the easier it would be to find targeted audience.
- Follow the rules. The rules of using hashtags may vary from channel to channel even though the fundamental principles are same. For instance while for Twitter the focus is more on the topic, for Instagram, the focus is more on the description of the photo.
- Hashtags can be used to leverage integrated marketing. Come up with relevant hashtags for your business to promote your marketing materials.
- Last but not the least, engage with your community. Social media is all about conversations. Instead of posting just hashtags and forgetting about it, engage with your users.
- Don’t overstuff your posts with hashtags. Using too many hashtags will mark your message as spam and even good messaging will drown in the sea of hashtags. Stick to just two to three hashtags per post. Never ever have hashtags more than words. It is a tool to enhance your conversation, not the conversation itself. Using too many hashtags will dilute your message.
- Stick to your genre and hashtag something which is relevant to your business. Don’t hashtag everything.
- Don’t use very long hashtags, it only confuses the visitor and is counterproductive. Keep your hashtags short.
- Don’t use hashtags for every social platform. While websites like Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, and Pinterest, encourage their users to use hashtags, for websites like LinkedIn, it may not be relevant.
- Keep it simple. Avoid acronyms which people may hardly know about.
Using hashtags the right way can help you forge a favorable impression on your target audience. Do it right and do it often! And don’t forget to share your comments in the comment box! We love to hear from you!