The #Effective Use of #Hashtags

By: Dallas Short

It’s the beginning of the new year and while more people will jump into social media in 2015 and even more will consider themselves experts, the fact is that social media is still young, evolving and unpredictable.

It’s never a bad time for a quick refresher (or introduction, depending on your level of use).
Let’s break down to how to use hashtags more effectively. I’m not referring when you’re making a personal status or tweet and want to use hashtags for humor. #WhenHashtagsGoOnTooLongAsInsideJokes. Instead, let’s focus more on the professional use:

1 – #Content – This is keeping it basic. Your typical internet user will search by topics of interest. Content hashtags are tags that fall more in line with Meta keywords that you use on web pages to help search engines understand what your content is related to. This is a good way to reach your general audience. This is where you will hashtag events, locations, lifestyles, products, concepts and ideas. For example, a restaurant in lower Manhattan (specifically the East Village) might try to increase customers/traffic to their weekend bottomless brunch special, with #EastVillage, #BottomlessBrunch. Try not to go overboard with the hashtags, pick two that are the best descriptions/fit and try to avoid more than three. The descriptive hashtag will work best, think about what your customer’s interests are. There is a such thing of overuse of hashtags, do not hashtag the world, it will not work or become a magical net to pull everyone in.

2- #Brand – This is the name of your brand or campaign. This will be the more direct link to your customers, so they can easily find you. Your brand hashtag should be permanent, while a campaign hashtag will focus on your current campaign promotion/goal/awareness. For example, the ALS Association will always use #ALS, but last year, they locked into the #IceBucketChallenge for its duration. You can look at most major consumer brands for more examples.

3 – #Trending – With the fast paced, real time updates of social media, there is that push and desire to be current and relevant. See which topics and hashtags are trending (being used the most) and if it applies to your brand or what you’re doing. If you’re a deli and it’s #NationalSandwichDay, use that hashtag when you tweet out your special. If a trending topic does not apply to what you’re doing, don’t force the issue.

#Research will be your best friend when using hashtags. A viral subject might not always be something you want to be attached to and it could end backfiring. You could have created a hashtag that “perfectly” fits your project, but be careful, that hashtag could have been used or is currently being used in a completely different way than you want your brand associated with. This happened multiple times in 2014, (beware of acronyms) and will be sure to happen even more in future years.

Finally, don’t expect the hashtag to pave the road for a clear lane to success. Social media is not something you can hop in and hop out of, you must place value and effort into monitoring and engagement. It needs to a conversation with your public. I’m sure we will delve deeper into that in a future blog.
Do you have any tips for others of effective hashtag use? I welcome any and all comments and as always, if you like what you read, be social and share.

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