You probably have never heard of Chris Messina, the man who changed the way we use Social Media. In 2007, with one simple tweet, Chris introduced a concept in to the Twitter lexicon – hashtags!
The story of how the Google designer made the hashtag famous is interesting. Though rejected at first by Twitter, it wasn’t long until the verbal shorthand was adopted by Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, becoming an important part of digital marketing strategies and a cultural phenomenon.
Today, years later, brands are throwing around hashtags without much thought, or consideration for their followers. Lack of hashtag etiquette has become an epidemic on Twitter and Instagram.
Hashtags are a terrific way to make it easy for your message to spread, but only if you use them wisely.
Although the following these Do’s and Don’ts aren’t necessarily the cure to all hashtag woes, hopefully they provide some direction if the thought of using hashtags causes you break out in hives!
Using Hashtags: 8 Do’s and Don’ts
Following these guidelines will help your brand manage hashtags properly and enhance the chances your message will be received, appreciated and shared:
1. DO: Create a unique hashtag for your brand, product or promotion
From a brand perspective, unique hashtags help reach a wider audience and guide the conversation. From a user perspective, unique hashtags help the audience find what that they are looking for with one easy click. By using a unique hashtag, you are building brand equity and providing an easy way for people to find you, your product or promotion.
2. DON’T: Put a million words in one hashtag!
Hashtags should be short, sweet and easy to read, regardless of the Social Media platform. #HereIsAnExampleOfWhatNotToDoWithHashtags .
3. DO: Have fun with hashtags, but do your research.
What hashtags are your competitors using? What related hashtags are you overlooking? Does your hashtag make sense? Is it relevant? Will it hold up over time? The answers to these questions vary from platform to platform, but it’s worth spending a couple of minutes to make sure you are putting your most effective post forward.
Pro tip: know EXACTLY what your hashtag is linking to before adding it to a post – no surprises for the boss!
4. DON’T: Put spacing between words or use punctuation in a hashtag
Adding a space between words or using punctuation breaks a hashtag and only the first word will be linked.
#DoThis #Don’t Do This
5. DO: Spellcheck all of your hashtags
Misspellings not only look unprofessional, but they can also cause your audience to come to a dead-end. If it’s easier for your to proofread, use upper-and-lower case text in your hashtags #LikeThis.
6. DON’T: Use too many hashtags
Hashtag fatigue is real, especially on Twitter. Sticking to one-or-two tasty hashtags on Twitter will increase visibility and keep your audience smiling. Just because Instagram allows you to have up to 30-hashtags per post doesn’t mean you should go wild! Stay relevant to your content and restrict hashtags to less than 12 as a best practice.
Pro tip: #Using #hashtags #in #every #word #of #a #sentence #is #not #a #best #practice
7. DO: Embrace micro-brands
Your brand should have multiple micro-brands. For example, McDonald’s has the McCafe, the McFlurry and McRibs, but you can still create consistency between your messages.
If you are a radio station with morning, midday, afternoon and evening personalities, each can be a micro-brand. Embrace the differences with a unique hashtag for each micro-brand, but keep consistency by using your unique brand hashtag too when it makes sense.
And, finally …
8. DON’T Be these guys:
Author: Lisa Waters
Lisa is an established Digital Media Director and creative team leader in Southern California. Her career began during the “Dot Com Boom” in the mid-90’s and grew with the ever-changing digital landscape over the past 20+ years. Lisa has served as a manager, graphic designer, programmer, salesperson, marketer, researcher, editor, analyst and educator. This experience has given her the ability to establish, motivate and manage creative teams to realize their full potential. You can find more of her brilliance at www.LisaH2OS.com.