Hashtags can help boost a brand’s presence and start meaningful dialogue, but they can also be overused. Here are some of the most important Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind when using hashtags on social media.
The first use of the hashtag in the social media realm was recorded in August 2007, when Google developer Chris Messina wrote on Twitter – “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?” The Oxford Dictionary officially recognized the word hashtag in 2010, and since then, the symbol has been used to categorize content on social media by engaging others to weigh in on certain points of interest or trending topics.
Social media advocates everywhere have adopted the hashtag as a means to create awareness over a particular theme. It is rare to hear the “two lines up, two lines across” image referred to as a “pound sign,” as it was commonly called prior to the social media revolution over the past five years. It’s important to understand the relevance of hashtags in social media marketing, but there exists a fine line between doing it right and overusing this important marketing tool.
Integration: When creating a comprehensive social media marketing campaign, integrate other marketing mediums to create a unified message. Print ads, commercials, and social media promotions should all co-exist in the same realm, and hashtags can serve as one of the common denominators. When promoting across several channels, ensure your hashtag is highly visible and creates a sense of continuity throughout the campaign.
Encourage UGC: Hashtags are valuable when marketing your business or organization on social media, as they encourage others to weigh in and join the conversation with their own unique perspectives. You can add even greater depth to your interaction by encouraging user-generated content (UGC) via your marketing campaign. This enables greater engagement with your community, creating a conversation, not just a marketing push.
Adapt to the platform: Facebook users can implement hashtags into posts, but Instagram and Twitter are the social networks most relevant to their use. Hashtags are most searchable across these platforms, although you will see them pop up once in awhile within other channels. However, consider that if even one additional person is drawn to your site or pulled into the conversation because of the hashtag, that’s a win!
Have unrealistic expectations: Hashtags are a tool, which must be driven by strategy and innovative ideas. A highly successful hashtag campaign launched in 2015 was the #PutACanOnIt promotion by Red Bull. This campaign featured individuals holding a Red Bull can in front of their cars in such a way that it made their vehicles look like the iconic Red Bull-branded promo cars you see at events and in commercials. The idea was already sound – the hashtag simply supported the marketing mission.
Create irrelevant hashtags: When adding hashtags to your social media content, make sure the tags themselves are relevant – which means timely, topical, seasonal, or appropriate to the conversation at hand. A currently trending social media conversation can provide the perfect access point for your organization, but you’ll need to make your hashtag relevant to the ones already in use.
Overuse hashtags: There is a phenomenon that exists in the world of hashtags that shows a direct link between hashtag overuse in a Facebook article or post and the average number of interactions per Facebook post. A Pew Research study showed that one to two hashtags in a FB post drove 593 interactions, while three to five hashtags dropped that number to 416. Before you think “more is better” and add 10 hashtags to your next post, you’ll be faced with declining interaction! Relevance is far more important than quantity when it comes to hashtags.
Alas, the lowly pound sign is no longer. Now, more than ever, the hashtag is a powerful marketing tool that must be used often and intelligently during promotional campaigns and throughout all social media platforms. Do so, and you’ll invite your target audience into your conversations where they’ll compel others to create greater awareness of your brand by engaging in your social media marketing campaign.
Sounds like a #GoodIdea, right?