I see businesses using hashtags that are a waste of space in their social posts because they don’t understand how a hashtag actually works (or doesn’t). It’s OK … I’m here to help.
In it’s simplest form, a hashtag is a label or metadata tag to make it easier for users to find messages in social media with a specific theme or content. In other words, a hashtag is only really effective if people have actually “searched” for that exact word or phrase. With that in mind … proper use of hashtags fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Is your hashtag something that other people are already using? Like #LoveWhereYouLive or #JesusSaves
- Is it based on a currently trending topic on Twitter, Facebook or other social platforms? Like #ImWithHer
- Is it part of a niche following for like-minded users to talk to each other? Like #BlueLivesMatter or #TrailBlazers
- Is the business or organization using it to brand itself or organize content? Like Yeti Cooler’s #BuiltForTheWild (but it can’t be different in every post, or every week. Stick with it and hope it catches on).
Most will say they fall into category three or four … but even then … unless you are spending a boatload of cash to promote the hashtag like Yeti … nobody will see it (or use it) anyway … Watch this hilarious SNL skit about improper use of hastags … HERE
Simply making up a hashtag is not good enough … the best thing to do is search for it first, so if you do a search for #OurPizzaIsBetterThanYourPizza ..
. even though you might want to put that in a post … there are 71 total Worldwide results for that hashtag … #CheesePizza on the other hand has 53,400 instances, and when people search for it, they may find your little Pizza Parlor … Make sense? (or #MakeSense which has 83,300,000 incidences … not kidding)
The only real reason to use a hashtag (Twitter started it by the way) is to attract the thousands or millions who might be searching for it, to YOUR tweet or Facebook post.
Use hashtags by all means (no more than three in a post according to Facebook’s best practices), but if you do use them to try to attract new viewers, at least search for it first, to make sure it has a big enough following to matter. You can also use it right in the conversation, not just at the end, like: Join us this Tuesday for a special #PepperoniPizza giveaway at 7PM (#PepperoniPizza has 84,000 results by the way).
This lesson is over. #SessionEnded (only 307 incidences, so not worth using).
Paul Evans is Director of Agency Services at The Ad Buyer