How to Use #Hashtags Effectively on Social Media

Twitter is not the only place where hashtags belong anymore. Hashtags have slowly spread to Instagram, Google+ and to many people’s shock, Facebook. Hashtags have very much concreted themselves into popular culture (just take a look at ‘hashtag rap’). Hashtags are everywhere and look like they’re here to stay. But with a few simple tips, you can avoid being part of the group of people who abuse hashtags and use them incorrectly…

1. Only use 1-2 hashtags per tweet …

Hashtags can be powerful but should just be used once or twice in each tweet or status. It’s easy to abuse the feature to try and get in as many searches as possible but if you #use #them #on #each #word #it #can #become #hard #to #read.

Instead, keep it simple! Use one or two tags to simply spread your brand or slogan at the end of a tweet.

2. Only use related hashtags …

In the past, companies have made the mistake of using completely unrelated hashtags in the hope that people searching popular tags will find them and follow them. This doesn’t work, instead it harms your brand! People will go to your page hoping to find #onedirection but instead they’ll find your business which has nothing to do with what they were searching for. They will get frustrated and your brand’s reputation will plummet.

3. Don’t punctuate your hashtags ...

Hashtags are successful because of their simplicity. A mistake that some people make is adding punctuation and spaces. But if you do this, the efficiency of hashtags is lost. Not only does it make the tag look cluttered and clumsy, the search function won’t pick up your tag! Don’t use spaces because the search function will only pick up the first word ( #Think Happy will only pick up ‘#Think’). Don’t add exclamations or question marks either (#ThinkHappy?!) or you risk ruining the ease of the tag.

4. Do keep up with popular trends!

As long as you keep it related, it’s not inappropriate to keep track of what’s popular and follow the trend. #ThrowbackThursday, for example, is a tag used specifically on Thursday for posting retro pictures - posting an image of your company in the early days could make your company look up-to-date and trendy.

Keep up to date with local popular trends too. Here in Yorkshire we have various hashtags that promote local business at certain times such as ‘ #LeedsHour’ and ‘#YorkHour’. These are also great examples of how hashtags can promote your company locally. By using existing hashtags, you can gain far more engagement.

5. Don’t use hashtags in inappropriate places.

Even though Facebook allow hashtags, it’s not really the place to use them. Some companies might think that you have to use them simply because you have the option, but that’s really not the case. Not many people are even aware that you can use them on Facebook and they may think your company is a bit out-of-the-loop, even though you’re not. Use them now and again if you think it’s appropriate but for the most part, stick to Twitter and Instagram where they are more popular and more useful.

6. Use hashtags to promote competitions

Hashtags are a fantastic tool to promote competitions. Domino’s Pizza held an innovative competition on March 5 th, between 9am and 11am, where 1p was reduced from the price of the Pepperoni Passion pizza every time #letsdolunch was tweeted. Many companies hold competitions and use hashtags to spread the word about them, which in turn brings followers and more potential for new customers.

7. Use specific hashtags

This tip is really open to individual judgement. Hashtags such as #health and #technology are great for categorising tweets and raising large-scale awareness, but sometimes they are too broad for specific searches. More specific tags such as #paleodiet or #nanotech might get you less views but ultimately more engagement, which can be a lot more valuable.

The Twitter blog has been really useful in the past for providing useful information on hashtags, and on the Twitter homepage you can clearly see which hashtags are trending. If you’re thinking about creating a new hashtag, Twitter released a simple infographic where you can casually check if you think your custom hashtag might catch on.

If the use of hashtags is a concept that seems daunting, just give it a go. They can be really effective in expanding your Twitter audience once you get the hang of it and a great way to raise awareness of your brand. If you want any further assistance with using social media for your business in general, contact us and we'll be happy to help!

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