Hashtags are everywhere these days, but do we really know how to use them? What began in 2007 as a simple way for individuals to search for and categorize topics and trends has become a cultural phenomenon overnight and doesn’t appear to be going away. In fact, Instagram just recently tested out a new feature that allows users to follow hashtags in addition to following other users. And while it’s true that hashtags play a vital role in social media campaigns, there is a right and wrong way to use them. So if you’re the kind of person who #CantStopWontStop with hashtags, read on, we have some #ProTips to help you out.
When choosing hashtags for your marketing campaigns, first consider your audience. Will your hashtag resonate? Is it easy to understand? Does it relate to your content? If the answer to any of these questions is no, don’t use it. The last thing you want to do is confuse someone, or worse, waste their time. People can get easily annoyed if they have to wade through irrelevant content when searching for something specific.
Here’s what you need to know:
- When using more than one word in your hashtag, capitalize the first letter of each word to make it easier to read. #LikeThis
- Be mindful of the amount of hashtags you use. While Instagram algorithms favor the use of more hashtags (11 or more, to be exact), Twitter posts fair better with only one or two.
- Use trending hashtags that directly relate to your content.
- Read your hashtag before posting. Occasionally, hashtags containing more than one word can come across in a way that was not intended. Case in point – following the death of former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, a website encouraged people, albeit irreverently, to tweet about Thatcher’s passing using the hashtag #nowthatchersdead. Not surprisingly, Twitter was flooded with tweets about the incorrect death of Cher.
- Google your hashtag. If it’s being used elsewhere, you’ll want to make sure that it’s appropriate for your post. For example, the popular pastry company, Entenmann’s used the hashtag #NotGuilty in the summer of 2011, encouraging costumers to feel good about eating their treats. Unfortunately, that same hashtag was already trending, following the verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial. You can only imagine the fallout!
In addition to using popular hashtags to help further your message and reach, many companies create branded hashtags. For starters, they allow you to quickly search what others are saying about your company (good and bad). They also invite people to take part in your movement. In 2013, Starbucks created the hashtag #ToBeAPartner and encouraged all of its employees and customers to use it to describe their experiences with the company. While some of the posts are undoubtedly negative, Starbucks is OK with it. They use these examples to remain transparent and address issues – and it works. At Team Fleisher, when we want to brag about the amazing clients we work with, we use the hashtag #ProudOfTheCompanyWeKeep.
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your own hashtag:
- Be creative and consider using humor, puns, or play on words. Your branded hashtag does not need to contain your specific company name but should be synonymous with your marketing strategy. Case in point – McDonald’s #imlovinit hashtag (McDonald’s created this hashtag before people started stressing the importance of capitalizing each word).
- Include a call to action. Perhaps one of the best examples of this comes from the toilet paper company, Charmin. Their genius, viral, #TweetFromTheSeat campaign, encourages people to – yep you guessed it – tweet while using the restroom…and it’s wildly popular. And when Twitter wants to recruit new talent, they use the hashtag #JoinTheFlock. Get it?
So whether you’re trying to make your brand more accessible to new clients, invite your customers to join your efforts, recruit new talent or elevate your marketing campaigns, be sure to up your hashtag game. Trust us, you won’t be #SorryNotSorry.