Who doesn’t love a good hashtag! There are so many benefits to hashtags, they tie in key words, they highlight trends, they isolate conversations, the list goes on and on…however, like a good glass of wine, a hashtag is best when used in moderation. In order to keep you informed on all things social we have compiled a complete hashtag etiquette guide. First, a brief list of do’s and don’ts when deploying your hashtag:
- Leverage a trending hashtag that does not tie back to your product.
- Create hashtags that are only useful for marketing your company.
- Overuse hashtags in your post (#Nobody #Wants #To #See #This).
- String a bunch of words together (#Seriouslythisisridiculous).
- Misspell a tag, or no one will be able to find your message.
- Create a hashtag that represents your brand, and give people a reason to use it.
- Participate in trending hashtags with relevant content and commentary.
- Use targeted, key-word hashtags that relate to your business.
- Inject a little humor to appear relatable to your audience.
- Create conversations to “hear” your customer.
Where to use hashtags
Now that you have the basic understanding of how to use a hashtag, it is also important to know where and how the hashtag works. While hashtags began on Twitter as a way to group tweets into specific categories, the pound symbol was being used long before in the IT world to highlight special meaning. It was then used with Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks to label groups and topics. This inspired Twitter to use the symbol to tag topics of interest. While hashtags are popping up in all social media platforms, the four biggest networks that identify and aggregate messages on a specific topic based on hashtags: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. LinkedIn did originally support hashtags; however, the business social platform removed the feature in July of 2013. Here is a breakdown of how to use the hashtag on each platform:
Hashtags on Twitter are used as a way to categorize messages. Twitter hashtag basics include:
- Click on a hashtagged word in any message to see all other Tweets that use that keyword.
- Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle or end.
- Hashtags that become very popular are often Trending Topics.
- Hashtags on a public account are searchable by anybody.
- Hashtags cannot be made up entirely of numbers. If you write #1 or #123, the hashtag will not be hyperlinked and is therefore not searchable.
- Hashtags cannot include spaces or special characters, such as a period, comma or colon. Those characters will break up the hashtag and only the first part of the tag will be hyperlinked.
Hashtags came into play on Google+ in May 2013; however, this platform provides hashtags for a slightly different form of engagement. Clicking on a Google+ hashtag will show similar posts. Google+ will also show you “related hashtags” or other hashtags that have been used in similar posts. Google+ hashtag basics include:
- Use hashtags by typing them somewhere within the text of your post.
- Hashtags appearing at the top of a post are related to the post’s content.
- Hashtags with gray coloring are those used by the author of the post, while hashtags with blue coloring are added automatically added by Google, based on the content of the post.
Facebook introduced hashtags in June 2013 to streamline trending topics and bring them to the forefront. Similar to Twitter and Instagram, Facebook hashtags are clickable links on your timeline or page. Facebook hashtag basics include:
- Facebook hashtags can be searched or bookmarked by adding the given hashtag to the end of the URL, ex. www.facebook.com/hashtag/
- Privacy settings override hashtags.
- Hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram, are also clickable.
- You can compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.
- Too many hashtags can hurt your brand, according to a study by Socialbakers.
The image-based platform allows you to tag photos and make them more visible by utilizing hashtags. Tips to keep in mind when using hashtags on Instagram include:
- Users with private profiles that tag posts won’t appear publicly on tag pages.
- Numbers are allowed in hashtags. However, special characters, such as $ or %, won’t work.
- You cannot tag other posts, only your own.
Hashtags, used thoughtfully and wisely, are a great tool to engage your audience. They help you connect to an interested audience when deployed using proper etiquette. Are you ready #jointheconversation?