I recently learned that the hashtag was actually invented by a Twitter user in 2007 and not the company itself. In fact, they initially rejected the idea, thinking it was for nerds! Since then, hashtags have become such an integral feature of the social media world that I suspect my future children won’t ever refer to the “#” symbol as a pound sign.
Although hashtags have been around for over a decade I still see people using them ineffectively all the time. I’ve put together some basic dos and don’ts so that you can be a #socialmediaqueen. Or at least someone who knows how to hashtag properly.
DO know your channel
The unwritten rules around hashtags differ for each platform, especially in regards to how many you
should use. I recommend a maximum of 3 hashtags on Twitter, and I would probably stick to just 1 or 2 if your post is under 140 characters.
Instagram on the other hand is kind of the wild west when it comes to hashtags. It’s common to see
posts with upwards of 10. If you’re going to be using a lot of them it’s a good idea to put them in a
comment rather than the post itself for a cleaner look.
While hashtags can be a powerful tool on Twitter and Instagram, it’s best to skip them altogether on
Facebook. Facebook tried to hop on the hashtag bandwagon in 2013 but they never really caught on,
and research shows that they can actually decrease engagement on your posts.
Different channels require different strategies and this is one of the many reasons you shouldn’t simply cross-post content from one platform to another.
DON’T #hashtag #random #words
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone using unnecessary hashtags on random words and cringed.
The idea behind a hashtag is that they are a part of a topic or theme, so that users can easily see content that is relevant or of interest to them. Putting a hashtag on words like #start or #free is silly because they aren’t part of a specific topic. Use hashtags strategically and don’t go overboard.
DO research what hashtags to use
When you’re starting out it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the common hashtags in your
industry. This means taking a look at the social profiles of companies or organizations similar to yours!
And never hop on a hashtag bandwagon without researching the context behind it. DiGiorno Pizza
learned this the hard way when they used the trending hashtag #WhyIStayed to tweet about pizza, not realizing that the conversation was about domestic violence.
DON’T use hashtags that are too broad or too niche
The broader and more popular a hashtag, the larger potential reach you’ll have. But if you’re not
reaching the right people, then how much good does that actually do you? In comparison, if you use a hashtag that’s too obscure, it’s not going to enhance your reach at all. Let’s say you have a restaurant in Edmonton. #Food is too general and #yegspaghetti too specific. Hashtags like #yegfood or #yegeats are more likely to reach people who are both foodies and living in your target market.
When it comes to hashtags you should follow the same core rules that apply to all social media strategy: keep it relevant and keep it on brand.
Do you have any hashtag tips or pet peeves? Let us know in the comments!
Devonne is the Social Media Manager and Content Creator for Simplified Social. It’s always been Devonne’s dream to use her creativity and writing skills in a business setting, and she’s been lucky enough to get to do that in her career so far. Her digital marketing experience includes developing content and strategies for local organizations in the retail, not-for-profit, and post-secondary education sectors.