An Intro to Hashtags for Businesses
You see them on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds: #tryingtobeclever, #letstalkinhashtags, #worldslongesthashtag. Hashtags aren’t just an accessory to your posts, there is a purpose for them and once you know the why’s and how’s…you may adjust the way you use them.
What is a “#”?
Hashtags are words or phrases, sans spaces, that are activated by putting a “#” at the beginning of it. Their use is meant for making posts searchable. They’re of Twitter origin, intended as a means of tagging the topic of a tweet.
Here are 3 top ways hashtags are used:
To Participate in Popular Social Trends – These general hashtags are a way to interact with your social friends/followers. Meant for anyone and everyone to use…they’re part of universal social conversations. When done right, it’s good to see brands participate in these kinds of posts- here to join in the fun, not just pushing their product.
Examples: #TBT (Throw Back Thursday), #TIL (Today I Learned), #ROLF (Rolling On The Floor Laughing, #MCM or #WCW (Man or Woman Crush Wednesday)
Share Event Experiences – This can range from a professional conference, to weddings, fun contests, or simply a reoccurring game nights with a group of friends. By making your event into a hashtag you can easily access photos, posts, and gauge sentiment. You can even register your hashtag here to collect all the elements in one place, plus get analytics insight.
Examples: #CES2017, #Oscars, #ForeverGreen2015, #GoogleSummit, #2016SmithSummerExtravaganza, #CivicTech, #OneLifeMakeItCount, #Tarte2Go
Catalog Experiences – Using hashtags this way is much like their initial intention and have evolved into wide spectrum of use cases. There’s personal use, such as tagging every photo of your child since birth with the same hashtag…sort of a social scrapbooking method. The blogger of Tales of a Twin Mombie does this with her twin boys #lopeztwinsies
Professional use, often as a means of promoting an aspect of an organization such as company culture. Southwest airlines does a great job of this. Look up #SWALuv on Instagram to see photos of internal award moments, company parties, and day-to-day fun on the job.
And lastly the more “general” use so your posts and images can be found when someone is looking for a particular topic. Such instances could be tagging your favorite Mexican restaurant dish with #enchilada if you snap a drool-worthy pic, #bored if you’re standing in line at the DMV and want to publicly complain about your despair, or #CompanyName if you have a great experience at an establishment and want to spread the word.
A Few Beginner Tips
- Use existing hashtags. Unless you’re creating a hashtag that you plan on using repeatedly, do not make up a phrase that will never be used again just to appear witty.
- Acceptable: #CompanyName2017Picnic
- Discouraged: #whenyoubreakyourfavoritemug …just say # SMH (shaking my head) and call it a day.
- Don’t overly hashtag. Facebook’s is not intended for hashtag use like Instagram and Twitter. Use 3 hashtags in a Facebook post max, the ideal range is 1-2. Twitter allows unlimited hashtags, but they recommend no more than 2. Instagram is where you’ll see an abundance of hashtag abuse, where the limit is 30. There’s a debate over an ideal limit, 3-12 is a general consensus. When hashtags are overly used, it appears spammy.
- Also, don’t use hashtags in every post. Use them for purpose, not emphasis.
- Only use hashtags where they serve their purpose, as in the platform they’re meant for. Right now that’s strictly Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Don’t be intimidated by the plethora of hashtag options. Take advantage of the variety and apply the most relevant selections so you can attract the right crowd. Overtime, you’ll figure out what works for you.