How to Use Hashtags

Everywhere you look, hashtagged social media content is popping up. What started off as a fairly unique feature on Twitter has become de rigueur as a search function on other networks. Still, for something so easily used, people never seem to know how to use hashtags effectively.

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The hashtag has a very simple function: to facilitate searching for information. Think of it as a categorization, more than a means of communication. It’s an extension of the tweet, but it’s not adding content to the tweet; it’s adding visibility. A tweet that uses “#Beyonce” has probably already told you that it’s about Beyoncé; the hashtag is there to make sure it pops up when someone is looking for what the entire Twittersphere (or Facebook nation, and so on and so on ad infinitum) is saying about Beyoncé.

To that end, it’s important to think carefully about how and when someone might search for the hashtag you want to use. Using “#socool” may in fact be so cool, but it’s not going to help your potential customer find your brand. It’s more likely that your tweet will show up when someone wants to know what the average teenybopper thinks about the new Justin Bieber album.

Instead of using super-specific or super-generic hashtags, use something that’s likely to be searched for. For even better results, create a specific hashtag for your new product, promotion, or event, and promote that hashtag on your website, in company videos, and anywhere else you can think of.

Save yourself a major headache by spending a few minutes searching for previous uses of the hashtag you want to use.

You need to know:

  1. If it’s been used before
  2. How it was used
  3. Whether the campaign is still active

You may love #2014AVA for the 2014 Acme Visual Amplifier, but that could just as easily been used by the 2014 Adult Video Awards.

Remember, to get the most out of your hashtagged campaign, you need to strike a balance between creating searchable (memorable) and unique (atypical) content.

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