Hashtags (#) are the platforms way of categorizing and grouping information. By using a hashtag in your post you make it discoverable so that anyone who shares an interest in the topic can find and interact with you. Hashtags are an essential part of social media marketing but they are so often used incorrectly, resulting in messy looking posts and even a drop in engagement. So to help you, we've created a list of our essential Do's and Don'ts of using hashtags - 

 

Do

  • Be specific and clear – The number one rule of hashtags is that they must be relevant to your post, clear and easy to use. When planning your hashtags, make sure they are easy to spell, are not too long and are to the point. If a hashtag is too confusing people simply won't engage with you.

  • Research – There are a number of things to consider when researching what hashtags to use. Is there a trending hashtag that fits your message? Do I want to create a branded hashtag? (TIP: when creating a branded hashtag pay extra attention to be specific and clear). Is there a niche hashtag I can tap into to target my audience? There are several websites where you can enter key words and they will generate relevant hashtags for you. Using the right hashtag can really boost a posts engagement but using the wrong one can be catastrophic, which brings us onto out next point.

  • Make sure you know what the hashtag means before you use it! - Avoid causing offence by making 100% sure you know what you're posting. This can go beyond the superficial meaning of the words to the deeper connotations. For example, if a trending hashtag marks a specific event or social movement, care must be taken to make sure you are using it sensitively.

  • Join in hashtag conversations – Take advantage of hashtags that fit with your brand to engage in conversation. The more you engage with the online community the more likely they are to engage with you! You don't always need to create a hashtag for it to be useful to your brand.

  • Use Caps to separate words – Hashtags are not case sensitive but using capitals to separate words makes it easier to read and will not effect how your hashtag is discovered. For example, #YellowCherryDigital is much easier to read than #yellowcherrydigital or #YELLOWCHERRYDIGITAL

Don't

  • Jump on the bandwagon – just because a hashtag is trending doesn't mean you need to use it! If it is irrelevant or insensitive you can cause serious damage to your brand and overall engagement so err on the side of caution. If a trending hashtag is so relevant it could be made for you, go ahead jump on that wagon!

  • Use too many hashtags! - You see it all the time, posts with more hashtags than words. This is an absolute no! Twitter recommend that you use no more than 2 relevant hashtags as best practice and research by Buddy Media showed that using more than 2 hashtags on a tweet can actually lead to a 17% drop in engagement! On Instagram, research shows that posts with 11 hashtags have the most engagement BUT this engagement will be vastly made up of spam opposed to people who are actually interested in what you're saying. (TIP: if you are using a lot of hashtags on Instagram, hide them at the bottom of the post by pressing 'return' and then '.' 3-4 times before typing your hashtags. This way your hashtags will still be discoverable but make the post appear cleaner.)

  • Assume people will get your branded hashtag – Branded hashtags can be great, especially in the lead up to an event or a product launch but if your audience is small, don't assume they will understand or pick up on your hashtag without a reason to. An effective way to get your audience to use a branded hashtag is to give them some kind of incentive. This can be a competition, a recognition from you that you're paying attention or a chance to be part of a wider discussion.

 

In short, the best way to make sure you use hashtags correctly is to plan ahead! Take time to research and construct your social media posts with the same care you would take with copy for print media. Try creating a list of appropriate hashtags that fit in with your brand and have them to hand so you don't get caught out when you need to post something spontaneous.

 

 

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