What is a hashtag?
I get asked this question quite often from people I’m introducing to social media. My answer is that a hashtag is a way to categorize a word or term into easily searchable content on social media platforms. You could search for the hashtag term and it filters through posts and finds the term in whatever context it’s being used.
The next question I get is “well, why can’t I just Google it then? Why do I need the # symbol”?
As a professional in social media, you need to have a good response to this question, especially if you’re building a social media communication plan for your brand or other customers. They need to understand what a hashtags purpose is in their marketing strategy, not just what it is. So let’s show them!
Here are my top 5 tips for learning to play the hashtag game. Use and share these insights with your brand and you’ll be on your way to making a bigger impact in the social media world, and getting your posts noticed.
1. Use appropriate hashtags for your industry, not trending topics. You want to participate in your industry/community and build your following. Not only will your posts get lost in the millions of posts with #tbt (throwback Thursday) tagged, but will that tag successfully market you or your business?
2. Be consistent. Just like when posting content, use hashtags that will work regularly for your brand or a specific campaign. The more people that can recognize you around a certain topic, the better. Again, you’re building a following within a certain community, not just reaching out to the masses. I suggest saving hashtag lists on your phone that you can easily copy and paste into posts depending on the topic.
3. Be original and unique, but research your hashtags first! There are a lot of slang terms out there, make sure the hashtag means what you think it means. Search social media platforms, Urban Dictionary, Google, etc. before adding a hashtag to your brand.
4. Look at the hashtag from all angles, and don’t trust capitalization. Capitalizing letters to emphasize words may look great at first, but not everyone will follow suit. The majority of people won’t use capital letters in a hashtag. Look at your hashtag from all points of view to make sure nothing inappropriate may come across depending on who writes or looks at it. You don’t want to start a Twitter rumor that Cher is dead, or that a therapist is now a rapist just because you didn’t format a hashtag correctly……
#Therapist / #therapist
#NowThatchersDead / #nowthatchersdead
#SusanAlbumParty / #susanalbumparty
5. Use short phrases with easy to spell words. You don’t want your hashtag to look like a run-on sentence. If you must use longer words, I say use a maximum of 3 words and 15 letters. Even though we get more characters on Twitter now, people still don’t want to have to type in #longhashtagsareannoying while trying not to make typos. As in almost all social media instances, shorter is better.