As more and more businesses are turning to social media as a viable way of expanding their client base and broadening their reach, hashtags are becoming more important than ever. If you wish to brand your business through Twitter, it is important to know the dos and don’ts. Hashtags are one of the most improperly used tools on Twitter—in fact, most people may not even understand the actual purpose of the hashtag.
Hashtags act as keywords or terms. They are preceded by a “#” sign, and are searchable on Twitter. They are especially helpful when promoting your business, because instead of a user having to specifically search for your business by name, they can perform a hashtag search for say “#photolens” and the tweets of any and all businesses, or other Twitter users, who have used that particular hashtag will appear among the search results. While Twitter is the most popular social media site that uses hashtags, they can also be used on Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Since the hashtag can be widely abused, here are some quick “don’ts” for their use:
- Don’t Overuse – With hashtags, less is definitely more. Pick a few key words you would like to publicize, and leave it at that. If you are tagging everything you can think of, you are doing it wrong.
- Don’t Make Them Too Long – If a hashtag is hard to read, most viewers will skip right over it. Good hashtags should be a few words maximum; simple and direct.
- Don’t Use Spaces – Hashtags cannot have spaces. Anything after a space will not be tagged as part of the hashtag and will not show up in a hashtag search.
- Don’t be Random – If you tweet about your product, say a new cat food, don’t hashtag something unrelated (like #TheSimpsons). Not only is it completely pointless in directing serious business to your profile, but it can also confuse or anger other users who were trying to search for that keyword.
- Don’t Take it Offline – Hashtags belong online, so unless it is part of a marketing campaign (#openingday event on a marketing poster advertising your grand opening, for example) do not use them on paper. And certainly do not use them in speech.
Now that you know some important don’ts, here are some great dos:
- Do Use a Spell Check – If you misspelled it, you will definitely have a harder time getting people to find your hashtag. Plus it makes you look less professional.
- Do Your Research – Try not to create a new hashtag without first making sure it, or something very similar, doesn’t already exist. Using established hashtags should direct more traffic to your tweet than if you create your own hashtags.
- Do Use Capitalization – If you have more than one word in your hashtag, strategic capitalization can help your readers understand what you mean. For example, #nowthatchersdead could be #NowThatchersDead or #NowThatChersDead.
- Do Pay Attention – Know which hashtags are trending and, more importantly, why. It is a great way to drive traffic to your profile if you can find trending hashtags and join in the discussion, but make sure you know what you are joining. A great example of this was right after the 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado. #Aurora was trending, and a clothing store in the city jumped in and used the hashtag as an opportunity to advertise one of their dresses. Super inappropriate, and offensive. Once they realized their mistake, they quickly issued an apology and removed the tweet. Look through the tweeting content attached to a hashtag before jumping in.
Hashtags are a great way to garner attention to your business’s profile and introduce new potential clients to your brand. All that is required is a basic understanding of how hashtags work and remembering your dos and don’ts. If you have any questions about how hashtags might benefit your business, or how to get your business up and running on a social media site like Twitter or Instagram, please contact us.