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Hashtags – Effective, Complicated, Simple & Misunderstood: What Gives?

Since early 2015, the use of hashtags (#) has been growing.  Adding hashtags to your social media posts and campaigns can drive engagement with both fans and followers.  And, it can attract new and prospective customers.

But like many factors involving social media’s do’s and don’ts, the hashtag is misunderstood by many and misused by even more.

Time for a Little #Hashtag101

Hashtags are, by definition, a word or phrase following the pound sign (#) that can be searched and shared to enhance the reach of your content, campaign, product or service.

#1: Align With Your Brand

Hashtags can be used to reinforce your brand through social, digital
and traditional marketing, tying the three together.

Example: The popular brand, Kit Kat incorporates #mybreak into their posts and content to enhance their “Kit Kat break” themed messaging.
To extend the reach of their brand, they track, favorite, and retweet social postings of their customers who use their hashtag.

#2: Choose Wisely

Choose a hashtag that most fits the pleasurable/fun/helpful experience your customers (and potential customers) are seeking vs. just your company name/brand.  Doing so reduces the chance that your hashtag can be hijacked by competitors — or people with an ax to grind — and increase the chance that others will share them.

A great example is #IKEA, which also incorporates #creative, #organized and #DIY into their campaigns and social posts for increased discovery and sharing.

The key is balance; keep some core hashtags for branding and create/refresh others that relate to changing and engaging new social trends.

#3 Incorporate Your Hashtag Online and Offline

Online – Make hashtags clickable, redirecting to a landing page on your website; include in your “click to tweet” formatted copy; display on your company homepage and on social media headers.

Offline – Make it easy for customers to remember and spread the word about your great work by featuring your hashtag on promotional materials, print ads, at seminars, in your place of business, and on invoices/receipts.

#4 Research Your Hashtag Audience

A little bit of research goes a long way. Hashtagify is a great place to test out the popularity of your ideas and find your sweet spot — a word or phrase that has some trend-winds behind it, but isn’t so popular that you’ll get lost in the noise.

Example: If #InteriorDesign is your bag, it’s a fairly competitive hashtag. Try adding #CreativeAtHome or some other unique messaging that stands out.

#5 More Isn’t Always Better

Research lands at 2 hashtags being best across most mediums and 5 or under is a safe range.

#6 Different Platforms, Different Rules

Twitter, Instagram, and other social platforms vary in how many hashtags are allowed. Twitter prefers two. Instagram will allow more without it affecting engagement.  But remember the ‘5-or-less-rule’ to be safe.

On Pinterest, hashtags only work in descriptions. Facebook and Google+ are great for adding a minimum of hashtags for branding and linking content to a landing page, but neither platform carries the searchable quality of the other platforms specific to hashtags.


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Need help with hashtags and/or other marketing ideas for your business? River Coyote Design’s team is a short call away! Contact us for a consultation today!

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