Are you asking yourself, what the heck is a hashtag? Well, even though it’s been recognized by the Oxford dictionary, many people still don’t quite understand it’s purpose.


Many social networks (think Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest) utilize hashtags as a means of categorizing content.   Using appropriate and relevant hashtags when posting your content helps target a specific audience that cares and helps your content become discoverable.  Hashtags help connect common themes or interests.   Social media is like a three layer cake, you have to understand the platform (the plate), your audience likes/preferences (chocolate, vanilla, carrot), create great content (a good recipe), add great photos, links back to your website, hashtags (layers) and put some money behind your posts (boosted posts)  to increase awareness, provide a cake cutter so your content can get consumed.   Here are a few tips to help you have your cake and eat it too!


Looking for the right recipe for hashtags?


Take a look at your target audience.  Do a little research on hashtags on sites like Hashtagify to look at what is trending and relevant.  Visit pages of people that you’d like to connect, as well as, your competitors and see what hashtags are trending. Remember that the more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be.  Lastly, create your own business hashtag (if you don’t already have one) and include that in your content to help people find you.  Make sure it’s pretty simple and #notasuperlonghashtagthatnoonewantstotypeortheywillmmisspellit

Are you on multiple social networks? Should you be?  How large are you looking for your social circles to be – do you want a lot of small groups or one large friend group that you interact with a lot?  Think of social networks like that.  Building ‘friendships’ takes time and consistency.  Each network has their own trending hashtags and appropriate number and usage of hashtags.  Do you research prior to starting on the networks and keep monitoring to ensure that you are staying on top of changing social times.


Keep things relevant.


If you are trying to build brand awareness, make sure your hashtag supports your branding.  Having a relevant hashtag can also be great for contests and promotions #ucanwin2! Set up a contest and add a relevant hashtag.  Make sure to promote that hashtag visually and in your content.  Encourage people to use the hashtag, comment and tag your brand.  The goal is for contest submissions to be shared over social media.  Be creative and really promote engagement.  The intention is to not only drive participation and engagement but also help to organize the posts that are tagged with your hashtag.


Keeping it local.


Local hashtags are powerful on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  With approximately 350 million photos to Facebook, post approximately 500 million tweets on Twitter, and upload approximately 85 million photos and videos to Instagram each day,  if you are local, you need to try and connect locally.  The best research is good old Google.  Look for community names, city, town, neighborhoods, local hot spots and events.

Know what’s happening!

If you are going to be social, you have to understand what is going on around you.  Almost every industry has events – industry specific, local events, regional events, corporate events, etc.  Event organizers generally market their hashtags well & using the hashtags in your content is a great way to join the conversations.  Hashtags can be a great way to connect with event speakers, influences and potential customers.    Another option are holiday event hashtags.  When posting about holidays (promotions, closures, events, etc.) use some holiday hashtags along with your branded hashtags and remember to keep it relevant.


Some tips to remember to avoid:


Like we mentioned earlier, try to avoid long hashtags which increase the chances of misspelling, going over character limits, or just plain too long (#notasuperlonghashtagthatnoonewantstotypeortheywillmmisspellit) If you’re creating a branded hashtag you should try to keep it short, sweet and original; something people will want to seach for.  Hashtags are supposed to make things easier to find and engage with, but long, complicated hashtags make things more difficult than they need to be.


Don’t overload and go overboard


Have you ever seen that content where there is a ton of hashtags but little to no content?  It’s kind of like someone crying wolf and you show up and they won’t talk.  Too many hashtags can reduce engagement, dilute your message and look unprofessional. Keep your hashtags relevant to your content and visuals.  If you are just sharing a post, commenting on a post or being social, don’t feel the need to #hashtag everything.  Use hashtags responsibly, be mindful of what you put out into the wide social world.  With so much data flying around, a 1.7second attention span, getting to the point eloquently and quickly is key!

Now you can #createbuzz with your new hashtag tips.  If you need help building your content plan or researching appropriate hashtags for your business, drop us a line or sign up for our newsletter for monthly tips for your business.  Otherwise, go “bee” social!