How to Correctly #AndIncorrectly Use #Hashtags

#Hashtags are all the rage. Ask a child under the age of 18 what the “#” symbol is and they will tell you it’s a hashtag, not the pound sign. When used correctly, hashtags are a great way to build your brand and get your audience talking on social media. But when used incorrectly, #itsnotaprettysight…

Backstory: When Twitter launched in 2006, they invented the hashtag. You simply put the # sign before any word (such as #marketing), and anyone who clicked on that word could see all tweets written with that piece of content. Hashtags became a great way to quickly find out what thousands of people were saying about a specific topic. It became a way for celebrities and news outlets to get people talking. In essence, it was a brilliant PR move.

At this very moment the top trending topics on Twitter are #WorldCup, #VIDCON2014 and #KUWTK (Keeping Up With The Kardashians for all you non-Kimye fanatics). These tags were carefully crafted by some PR person with the goal of making it onto the Twitter trends board. Nice work PR peeps – you deserve a raise.

Yes, hashtags are a great way to promote a brand, business or event. However, somewhere along the way, they’ve become excessive and downright annoying. I recently saw a friend’s photo on Instagram with 27, yes 27(!), hashtags. That’s a little ridiculous if you ask me. We are no longer friends.

So here are some tips for correctly using the # symbol in your next social media post.

  • Don’t make them too long or random. #ihadabaddayandhatemylife is not a hashtag; it’s a full sentence. It’s probably not relevant to your business, and the vast majority of your followers don’t want to see this. Stick to professional, business-minded tags. #KeepItSimple
  • #Don’t use #toomany at #one #time. Hashtags are great for discovering and organizing information. If every other word is a hashtag then it’s impossible for a reader pick out the key points. It can also come across as spam or look like you’re trying too hard. Follow the rule of one hashtag per post/tweet. Two, tops.
  • Use hashtags. An all-black-text tweet is actually very boring. Use hashtags to provide color to your posts and let readers know what they should click on.
  • Mix it up. Using the same hashtag in post after post is taboo and makes you seem uninteresting. It’s fine to use the #Event2014 tag while you’re live tweeting from that event, but do not put your business or brand’s custom hashtag at the end of every post you send.
  • Follow the Twitter guidelines.

Next time you go to write a tweet or Facebook post, take a step back and think about your audience and the goal of your hashtag. Then tag away.

#FollowPhilosophy on Twitter and find out if we’re practicing what we’re preaching.

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