Hashtags: Are You Using Them Right?

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Oh, the mighty hashtag!

We see people use it everywhere – even in places they don’t belong in.

So all right… let’s get down to business.

What exactly is a #hashtag and how does it work?

On social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, a hashtag is defined as a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic. A hashtag turns the word that immediately follows it as a searchable link. This is a great way for social media users to easily find conversations about certain topics.

For example, after watching an episode of How to Get Away with Murder, I always hopped on to Twitter and searched for #HTGAWM, the TV show’s official hashtag. There, I saw people’s reactions to the episode (which are usually really funny and pretty relatable). And because the topic is relatable, you join in on the conversation and participate in the discussion.

Who killed Wes? Why Annalise? Shut up, Laurel! Oh stop it, Asher and Michaela!

Hashtags and your business

Hashtags can be very helpful in creating buzz around your business. This allows other people, who may not have ever heard about you, discover you.

But FIRST… you have to research the hashtag you plan on using. Know what’s happening in that conversation. Seriously… you really wouldn’t want to join a conversation you’re not interested in or a conversation that doesn’t really align with your brand’s values.

Also, check if someone is already using that hashtag. If you’re running an event, say a contest or promotion, you’ll need to make sure that what you’re going to plaster around as the official hashtag has not already been taken, again circling back to that conversation you don’t want to be having.

Consistency and Moderation

Can you use a hashtag consistently to represent your brand? Absolutely.

Can you use multiple hashtags in a single post? You can.

Should you flood your Instagram posts with 30 hashtags? Oh please no.
Using too many hashtags sends out a signal to the users (and the social media platform you’re using) that you’re not really in it for the conversations and the discussion. You’re not in it to be social. It sends the message that you’re only after gaining more followers and not actually looking to start a conversation.

You can integrate hashtags into your sentences, but be careful not to turn every single word into hashtag.

Also, too many hashtags on a single post is annoying. You really don’t want to be that annoying brand or business, do you?

What happens after you start a hashtag-driven conversation?

Like all other posts you make on social media, it’s important that you nurture the conversations and interactions that happen after the fact. It’s true that you need to do some research before you start a hashtag-driven conversation; it’s also quite beneficial to do some research when the conversation picks up. Watch what’s happening in the discussion. Learn from others or give out your advice and/or comments. In the process, you increase engagement on your social media channel, you expand your organic reach, you gain followers, and most importantly, you add value to a community.

How is your business using the hashtag? Has it been helpful in your social media campaigns? Let me know! :)

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