Hashtags: if you’re at all familiar with social media, you’ve probably heard the term. You may know that if you include hashtags in your posts, they can increase the amount of people that can see your post, but do you know exactly how it works or why? We have been surprised to find that there are many people out there who still don’t quite have the hang of them. It’s so important to know exactly what it is you’re doing with that pound sign, especially when you are marketing with hashtags. This is why, out of the kindness of our hearts, we’re going to break down exactly what they are and why they were created as well as how to use them well.
What is the hashtag’s purpose?
The hashtag was first brought into existence by Twitter, but it is now utilized by many social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube.
The purpose of these handy little pound signs followed by a phrase is to categorize social posts according to their subjects and help others seeking posts on a particular subject to easily find them. For instance, if you use “#socialmedia” in your post, you are making it known that social media is in the subject matter of whatever you are posting. Anyone who views your post can click on your hashtag to see more posts about social media OR anyone who is searching the hashtag social media will see your post in a feed along with all of the other posts that are tagged with #socialmedia.
How to properly implement hashtags
While the hashtag was made to be helpful, there are many people out there who have taken advantage of the fact that these hashtags bring more visibility to their posts and have therefore gotten a negative reaction from other users. Don’t fret, though- with these guidelines, you can still use hashtags to help both your business and the users that you are targeting:
1. Use a maximum of two hashtags in one single post.
If you use more than two hashtags in a single post, it looks less like a complete thought and more like a string of inconclusive keywords. Think about it: how many different categorically-significant subjects can you actually have in one post without compromising the content? People catch on to this too- they’ll recognize and be turned off by the businesses and/or individuals that are just stuffing as many hashtags into their posts as possible to try to get noticed. Not convinced? Linchpin SEO found that Tweets that have more than two hashtags show a 17% drop in engagement.
2. Be authentic/relevant when using hashtags.
Many companies who are marketing with hashtags have learned the value of Real Time Marketing-creating social posts around trending topics (the most popular topics that people are posting about) in order to gain a lot of exposure. For instance, Tweeting using the hashtag #SuperBowl on the big football day when it is most likely trending, is a way of utilizing Real Time Marketing. This can be a great form of marketing, but you must make sure that you can somehow tie the trending hashtag into your business and it holds some relevance to your industry. Not only will it turn users off to come across an irrelevant, overly sales-y Tweet when they’re looking for specific information, but in many instances, it can also be seen as extremely insensitive, as trending topics are often set around sensitive or controversial subjects. The Washington Post can provide further insight on this.
3. When punctuation begins, your hashtag ends.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of incomplete hashtags we’ve seen because someone has entered an apostrophe, a comma or some other sort of punctuation into them. Most people realize that a space ends a hashtag, but less people realize that punctuation marks will end it as well. For example, #you’reloved would end the hashtag at #you because of the apostrophe in place. If you wanted to use this hashtag, you would need to type “youreloved” without the apostrophe to link the whole phrase. This makes a difference because: a) you don’t want to look like you don’t know what you’re doing b) an incomplete hashtag is not going to be found by the people that you want to find it. It’s as simple as that!
Hopefully we’ve shed some light on the hashtag and how it was meant to be used. Marketing with hashtags can be extremely helpful IF done right! Looking for more information on doing social media the right way? You can find out more about our Twitter marketing tool at www.socialcentiv.com or Tweet us for any social advice at @SocialCentiv!