What to Do and What Not to Do with #Hashtags
Posted on: May 9, 2012
Those of you who use Twitter no doubt have seen a hashtag, the letters that follow the # sign and are, according to Twitter, “used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”
But hashtags aren’t appropriate for every Tweet. It’s important to know when to use one, and how to treat a hashtag in a Tweet. Many have weighed in on the topic; here’s what I have gleaned.
Five reasons hashtags work:
- Categorizing – Hashtags allow users to categorize their Tweets into a specific topic, making it easier for other users to find. This tool is great for someone posting a series of Tweets discussing the same topic.
- Interactivity – Hashtags can take a routine tweet and add some life to it by categorizing it and adding it to a list of related Tweets. #Interactive
- Webinars/Conferences – Hashtags make it possible to monitor Tweets during a webinar or conference, adding value to the experience. This option allows participants to ask questions and comment before, during and after the event, and to see what others have on their minds.
- User-friendly – Marketing is all about reaching your consumers and creating buzz. Hashtags allow for current and potential customers to search for Tweets they are interested in viewing. Using hashtags correctly may help to increase the buzz around your product or service by increasing views.
- Specificity – Hashtags allow for users to emphasize their overall point and purpose of the Tweet in one or two words. #AddedValue
Five reasons hashtags fail:
- Lack of consistency – Marketers who use hashtags should do just that — use them! Lack of consistency may cause some Tweets to go unseen by current and potential customers who may come across your Tweets only by searching for the specific hashtag they know you always use.
- Too many words – One mistake users make when using a hashtag is thinking the point of a hashtag is to write a complete thought or an entire sentence. This is one of the most bothersome misuses of hashtags, in my opinion. Nothing is more aggravating to me than when a Tweet appears on my feed with complete sentences as a hashtag. #ThisIsHashtagAbuse
- Irrelevant hashtags – Users must make sure they create a hashtag that is relevant to the specific purpose of the Tweet and the hashtag itself. If the hashtag is irrelevant, it may cause confusion among the viewers, destroying the utility of the Tweet.
- Lack of promotion – Just like any other product or service, if you do not promote your hashtag, people will not know what it is, or what the purpose of the hashtag might be.
- Carelessness – When deciding on which hashtag to use, it’s important to look into how that hashtag already is being used in the “Twitterverse.” Or if it is being used at all. You may think you are categorizing a Tweet correctly, but do your homework; you may be surprised by the Tweets that are ending up in that hashtag list.
So next time you think about composing a Tweet, consider borrowing from journalism and contemplating the Five Ws and H before you add a hashtag: Who, what, when, where, why and how?
- Why we do what we do: http://t.co/qsWR1dFT #PublicRelations #PR #PublicAffairs #Marketing
- We are seeking candidates for Project Manager positions. More info: http://t.co/kD8Q0hBh
- Humor sells: @HiltonHotels teams up with @TheOnion to create an advertising campaign to attract younger customers. http://t.co/9ISYhEyr
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