Hashtags have been instrumental in executing successful campaigns and movements across the world from #Metoo and #BLM, to sharing inspirational stories and recognition using #Kudos or #ProudtoBe or just for fun challenges like #10YearChallenge and #HowItBegan.
How do they work?
Hashtags create a community by connecting your post to a larger conversation and therefore help your posts reach a wider audience. They group posts sharing these hashtags and therefore create a thread or conversation that can be carried across many social platforms.
It’s important to note if you post with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your post.
Despite the popularity of hashtags, many people (and companies) still don’t use them effectively. Many miss out on using a hashtag as a search tool, or use them without really understanding their connection to wider conversations and the opportunity that using them effectively can have for your audience reach.
For example – Did you miss an awards night? You can use their hashtag to track what’s happening from both hosts, audience or viewers or get involved by posting using their hashtag too! Want to follow conversation about a football match, TV show or company? You can do this by searching their recognised hashtag.
The thing about hashtags is you’re getting a rounded thread of activity from many perspectives, good or bad! The key is to use them consistently and appropriately.
So, what’s the difference between hashtags and tags?
A simple way to remember the difference is – tagging notifies an account holder (and their followers) about the post whereas hashtags are topical or conversational for a wider audience or community to get involved in. It’s also a way for people to talk about a brand or event without notifying them directly (until it trends and gives their PR person a heart attack!)
Where to place the Hashtag
Some like to keep their hashtags to the end of their posts, while some include throughout the text and some do both! Figure what works best for you and your audience about the placement of your hashtags. There really isn’t a right or wrong, but make sure it doesn’t jar your audience if there’s too many.
Using hashtags can help get a topic or brand trending as it links all content together once a common hashtag is used on a post.
On twitter specifically, dedicated hashtags can highlight your content and get you trending – every marketing person’s dream! The more your audience use it, the higher up the ranking it will go.
As always, there are some basic dos and don’ts in relation to hashtags:
- Engage in conversation.
- Research trending hashtags in your industry and use them appropriately.
- Spellcheck. Always.
- Check how hashtags read when combining words (see faux pas at the end of the article).
- Create hashtags for special events or for creating, grouping and tracking your own content.
- Track your hashtags performance. Which hashtags work best for you.
- Use hashtags to search for relevant content on a social channel.
- Check your own brand hashtags regularly to monitor what people are saying about it.
- Use the same hashtags multiple times in the one post. (You see it all the time where companies use their own brand with same hashtag 4/5 times in one post…we got it the first time!)
- Use punctuation to separate hashtags (Facepalm!)
- Misspell your hashtags (Basics 101)
- String too many words together (#supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, or was that one word?!)
- Forget to use them at all in posts – (Always optimise your audience potential)
- Use non brand general hashtags without checking what they are being used for elsewhere (Eek!)
Remember- Don’t add spaces or punctuation in a hashtag, it will not work properly. Typically at a glance, if your hashtag didn’t bold out – it didn’t work.
Finally – don’t worry, it’s not just you – some of the world’s biggest brands have had issues when hashtags go wrong and there have been many infamous hashtag faux pas over the years!
For example, Many #AskX – ask a question type hashtags have been hijacked over the years to trend negative stories and narratives by trolls or disgruntled accounts.
In some instances, poorly thought out company hashtags can backfire – like when Switzerland picked #hobbitch for the promotion of the Hobbit with its country code or simply Google Susan Boyle’s unfortunate album launch hashtag!
Have you a hashtag thought or faux pas? Share your comments with us!
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About the Author
Founded in 2022, Pennypop is an Irish Marketing agency specialising in Marketing and Communications. The business is based in Louth, Ireland and supports businesses across Ireland, UK and USA.