Hashtag 101 – Using Hashtags Properly With Your Brand
The proper use of hashtags is a bit of a pet peeve around the Lounge Lizard offices which is why we decided to provide a quick guide called Hashtag 101 – Using hashtags properly with your brand, in hopes that those new to hashtags or habitual abusers, will learn a better way of utilizing this tool.
Why the pet peeve? The primary reason is that the hashtag was created as a very useful tool that is constantly misused primarily by people who have no idea why hashtags are even supposed to be relevant.
Of course along with a large segment of Generation Y and Generation Z, there are plenty of other people including those in marketing that are not sure why or how to effectively use hashtags. No harm, no foul; however there is no time like the present to close that gap in your knowledge!
What is a hashtag?
In a nutshell, a hashtag is the ‘#’ symbol which is also the pound sign or number sign. The symbol itself was called the ‘hash symbol’ so when it was used as part of a tagging system (#andanywords) the natural term was ‘hashtag’.
They were created as a labeling system to allow users to find messages or content more easily. Make sure to read that line again and then think about why the misuse of hashtags can be so frustrating.
With Twitter and then other social media sites like Instagram, the idea and use of hashtags started properly for labeling but then quickly fell right off the edge of a cliff. Hundreds of thousands of users turned hashtags into shortened phrases and additional communication aspects, rather than using them for their original intent of sorting and labeling.
For example, news outlets properly have used hashtags for large news stories such as #SanDiegoFire2013. That is a makes sense hashtag that allows people to quickly find information on that topics if the hashtag has been applied properly.
Then you have the more common use of hashtags by GenY & Z on pictures, posts and tweets such as #lovinglife #chillingtwithmygirls #allaboutme #mytimetoshine #girlpower. The ego! Do these users really think that their picture of statement truly applies to all of these categories and if so that people are actually looking up these categories regularly?
The answer is no, most people won’t waste time searching for information on meaningless hashtags that are only being used as a way to express additional emotion and thought to go with the message.
So what should you be doing instead rather than polluting social networks and micro-blogging sites with useless labels?
Tips for Successful Hashtags
- Put thought into names – Creating hashtags should not be an afterthought. There are specific criteria you need to consider as you look at names and ideas to hashtag. It needs to be unique and specific enough that it won’t be mistaken for something else. It needs to associate in some manner with your brand, business and/or industry. Plus it needs to be short to allow space for an actual tweet or message.
- Categorize messages – Sometimes you might want to promote a specific campaign and therefore use a custom message. Other times you might want to add something to an existing conversation or category. By breaking down subjects properly with hashtags you can keep your content and brand relevant over more areas. If you want to use existing hashtags make sure you research them to ensure that the category is one that truly matches what you are including to the conversation.
- Use hashtags to promote – Let’s say your brand is included in a message. Why not add a hashtag to help provide additional information about the content? For example if you are posting a picture about your new product and have it hashtagged with the marketing campaign tag, why not add another tag that relates to how people can use the product or where they can use the product like #weekendwarrior #dirtbikes #keepitsafe?
- Use hashtags like keywords – One thing Gen Y & Z has shown us is a way to use a hashtag like a keyword. By adding certain hashtags to a post, ones that are frequently searched, your content will appear in more hashtags searches. Of course, it is important to have some level of relevance rather than just spamming the most popular search terms.
- Use hashtags sparingly – Although we are providing information about when and how to use them, that is not to say you need to go overboard. Far too many people overuse and abuse hashtags (#nowedont #hashtagsareforeverything #isthistoomuch?) and by adding too many or using them too often then can be viewed like spam. That is not what you want as then your hashtag efforts become white noise and a waste of time. The idea is engagement, growth and leads…not quantity.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that hashtags can be extremely frustrating and annoying to see when used incorrectly, but when used properly, they are still an important aspect to your social media marketing campaigns. By focusing your efforts with hashtags you are making it easier for you audience to access information about your brand and its promotions. Make sure to take advantage of our Hashtag 101 – Using hashtags properly with your brand information so that you too are helping extend reach, sharing, and promoting posts properly and gaining the important engagement and growth you want.