We need to talk about hashtags

So, where do I start with this one ….

hashtag

UPDATED 14th March, 2017

Some of you love them and sprinkle your posts with them like an over enthusiastic mother-of-the-bride with a box of confetti, and some of you avoid them altogether.

Perhaps you avoid them in case of an unintended faux pas.  Here’s a true story.  A PR company, a professional PR company, was tasked with promoting Susan Boyle’s launch party for her new album.  So the smart young things got their heads together and came up with a hashtag.  Now, they may have been up against it deadline-wise or there was no sanity check from outside the team – both inexcusable!  

This is what they came up with … #susanalbumparty

Yep, it looks a bit like this, doesn’t it: su’s-anal-bum-party Let’s all facepalm together.

More examples of hashtag fails

Sometimes you can take advantage of a hashtag fail, I don’t doubt for one minute that Ed Sheeran’s PR team know exactly what they were doing here by using #sheeranalbumparty

What’s the purpose of a hashtag?

It’s a way of grouping together content on a single topic, it’s what will bring strangers to your service or products. Hashtags of your business name are pointless and irrelevant and a bit vain to be honest.  If a new customer already knows the name of your business, they will go straight to your channel anyway, they won’t be typing in #nameofbiz to find you. Do you get it?

What makes a GOOD hashtag? One that has value and meaning to the reader (your potential customers). Imagine opening a filing cabinet and picking out a labelled file.  From the label, you know exactly what the contents are going to be, what the subject area is etc.  That’s how a hashtag should work for you and your business. Too niche and you’ll be the only item in that “file” too broad, and you’ll be lost in sea of information.

What makes a BAD hashtag? The opposite of the above! Irrelevant, silly, childish, pointless.  #wastingyourtimehahaha.

Golden rule: do a search using the hashtag you are thinking of using.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you want to be associated with that content?
  2. Does your service/brand or business fit?
  3. Is this conversation and thread right for what I’m trying to achieve/sell/promote
  4. Would I engage with this content?

Doing your homework is key to honing the best tags (if any) for your content.

And finally, the UGLY.  #imagine #trying #to #read #a #post #like #this #quite #bloody #annoying #isnt #it?! I for one would unfollow, block, emigrate etc.

Overusing hashtags can actually cause a decrease in engagement on your posts. In fact there is reportedly a 20% difference in engagement between tweets with 1-2 hashtags and tweets with 3 or more hashtags. Make sure you’re not over doing it.

IN SUMMARY … 

You are limited to just 140 characters on Twitter – don’t waste them – use them wisely.  Use only RELEVANT hashtags and the general rule is no more than two. Focus on getting your message across – if the addition of a hashtag will add value, do it, if not just leave it out.

You don’t have to use a hashtag. If anyone has told you that you must, they’re wrong!


Still not sure what I mean? Get in touch and we can go through some examples

UPDATED: 2017-02-15

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