Are You Making These Hashtag Mistakes?

August 3, 2015
hashtag symbol and word spelled out

hashtag symbol and word spelled outIf you’re not taking advantage of using hashtags as a search mechanism for your target audience, you could be missing out on the power of social media. We’re going to explore some common mistakes small businesses make with hashtags.

What IS a hashtag, anyway?

First, let’s explain what a hashtag is, in case you’re not entirely sure. A hashtag is a group of words preceded by the number / pound sign (#), with no spaces between the words or the sign. When used on social media, the phrase and symbol turn into a clickable link. The power of hashtags is that they are searchable. They help categorize content.

Readers can “follow” certain hashtags, so each time someone posts something on social media using a hashtag, followers can easily find it. Readers can also search for web content that have a specific hashtag. For example, if we wrote a post on search engine optimization, we might give it the hashtag #SearchEngineOptimizationTips on Twitter. When readers searched for that hashtag, they would find our post, along with any other web content assigned that hashtag.

Common Hashtag Mistakes

#1) Making hashtags too long: Hashtags should be easy to read and relatively short, no more than a few words. Use upper and lower case letters to make them easier to read.

#2) Using too many hashtags: Sometimes marketers try to cram several hashtags into a single message. Avoid using more than two per message.

#3) Using irrelevant words: Hashtags should convey the content’s topic and be understandable, even by readers who may not know your topic or niche.

#4) Skipping hashtag research: Anyone can create hashtags, so chances are, the ones you might want to create for your business are already in use. Search first on the social media platform you’re using to see if your hashtag is already in use. You want to avoid using a hashtag already in use if you’re trying to promote your brand. You can use ones already in use if you’re trying to join a conversation – just don’t enter an unrelated discussion to get attention.

#5) Creating a hashtag that has an unintended meaning: Google “hashtag disasters” and you’ll find dozens of example of hashtag campaigns that created public relations disasters. These can range from untended consequences such as the NYPD tweeting photos of smiling citizens with officers and asking for similar photos, but what they got was a slew of photos depicting NYPD brutality. Or simply not reading the hashtag carefully, as in the infamous British singer Susan Boyle hashtag #susanalbumparty to promote a new album – many readers saw a rather lewd message instead.

Check out my video below, where I discuss some common social media mistakes we here at ContentFirst.Marketing see small businesses making.

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesmitchell/