How to use hashtags perfectly – the do’s and don’ts
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It’s been 14 years since Chris Messina came up with the concept of the hashtag and it’s fair to say some think they’re a craze that’s been and gone. But if you check out Instagram, you’ll see the hashtag is alive and thriving and there is still plenty of life left in them on Twitter, too.
We can’t disagree that using keyword searches helps filter relevant content on social media platforms, but a correctly used hashtag is still invaluable for marketing your brand. So, ignore the hashtag haters as they are still an effective way to make your content discoverable online, at no cost.
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What is a hashtag?
OK, so before we start looking at the right and wrong ways to use one, we better make sure you understand what a hashtag is.
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash (#), used in social media to connect content to a particular topic, conversation, theme or event.
For example, if we were to post a blog about our gorgeous office dog, Hugo, we may add these: ‘#officedog #petsatwork #cute’ in our accompanying social post.
Anyone searching for similar topics would then be able to find our post through the hashtag, leading to increased recognition and engagement.
HOW TO USE THEM
- Be relevant: The hashtags you choose should be relevant to the topic of your post. Select one keyword to define or categorise the post and use that.
- Select your hashtags carefully: Choose a popular one with millions of posts, and yours is likely to get lost. On the other hand, choose one that is niche and obscure, people won’t search for it.
- Keep an eye out for trending hashtags: Hashtags are likely to trend alongside topical issues. While you generally don’t want to choose hashtags that are too high in demand, it may be effective to choose one that people are talking about now, if relevant to you, of course.
- Go beyond your brand: Where appropriate, extend your hashtags to talk about social causes that will engage the reader.
- Simplify: Make it easy to remember by using simple vocabulary.
- Write in title case: It will make it easier to understand.
- Research: Capitalise on hashtags that are already being used in relation to your industry or brand.
- Follow other hashtags.
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- Spam: As a general rule, it’s best to only use 2 or 3 hashtags in order to maximise reach and engagement, without losing authenticity. On Instagram, however, there is far more flexibility to use more, as reach is potentially higher. Feel free to put them in your comments so they aren’t as visible.
- Use hashtags for the sake of it: Ensure to add context through a punchy, explanatory caption.
- Expect your brand name or slogan to translate to a hashtag: Hashtags are better at generalising, rather than identifying.
- Be too self-promotional.
- #Hashtag #every #word: A common mistake… in 2012.
- Combine more than three to four words together.
ONE FINAL THOUGHT...
Be very careful what words you choose for your hashtag. Remember when Susan Boyle’s PR team used a hashtag to promote the singer’s new album party? It probably raised her profile, but for all the wrong reasons.
Be straightforward, authentic and relevant, and follow our tips to ensure hashtag success for your online brand.
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