Believe or not, hashtags turned 10 last month! That means for the last ten years, brands have been cashing in their popularity. Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, they’re here to stay. Just make sure you know the lay of the land when it comes to using them on various platforms. The terrain isn’t always the same.
I can remember when hashtags started popping up on Facebook and the typical response was, “Come on! This isn’t Twitter.” Facebook quickly (and in a smart move) quickly adapted. Every other major social media platform quickly fell into line, with the exception of one.
Hashtags are used as a search result/filing system for like pieces of content. If you hashtag an apple pie recipe with #applepie, there’s an easy 1:1 correlation. People using or clicking #applepie are likely looking for recipes for, photos of, or stories about apple pie. But if I’m posting an apple pie recipe and also include #pie #bakedgoods #grandmashouse #thanksgiving #dessert #food #fruit #recipe #MarthaStewart #MmmMmm #nomnomnom #getinmybelly #feelslikefall the intended audience isn’t necessarily going to be who lands on it.
As a consumer of social media, we’re quick to judge. If I’m hoping to connect with people looking for an apple pie recipe, I’ve provided them with a satisfying experience. If they’re looking for the latest fall fashion trends, then I’ve failed.
5 tips to set yourself up for success using hashtags
- Using too many hashtags dilutes your message. You’re reaching out to an audience who is likely not specifically interested in what you’re posting. If you’re writing a blog post about the number of hashtags to use on various social media platforms, you’d want to avoid using general hashtags like #socialmedia and #internet I’m not really connecting with an audience who is specifically interested in what I’m writing about.
- #Hashtags can become a #distraction from your #awesome message. #bestpractices #filing #platform #lessismore #enoughalready
- Understand how users of each social network interact with #hashtags. On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and (recently) Pinterest they’re clickable, meaning they provide a search result for other posts with the hashtag. On SnapChat they’re useless unless you’re being clever or using a cause-related hashtag for the purpose of being ironic or aligning yourself with something.
- Do your #hashtag research when using them for marketing. “Listen” to the space around the hashtag before using it to make certain it aligns with what you’re sharing. Even seemingly benign hashtags can lead to unintended results.
- Choose your #hashtags wisely. It’s easy to go nuts when hashtagging. Between you, me, and everyone else reading, it’s kind of fun to use them in humorous ways. Using them in that way every now and then is fine. Just don’t waste the opportunity hashtags offer because you’re too busy being cheeky. Plus, spammers tend to use a million hashtags on every post because they’re desperate for attention. Don’t make yourself appear to fall into that category. It’s not a good look.