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Hashonomy 101 – Hashtag Strategy

Feb 25

Using a hashtag to differentiate your brand can be an extremely powerful tool. Hashtagging is very popular on social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.  However, many businesses still don’t grasp the concept of a ‘hashtag’ or how to use one properly. With an understanding of hashtags, you can increase your social media visibility.

By now, most of you probably know that a hashtag is simply a word or phrase with the ‘#’ character in front.  Something to note, correct hashtags are one continuous word or phrase with no spaces.  For example, if you wanted to hashtag ‘social media agency,’ you would type it, ‘#socialmediaagency’.  If you typed ‘#social media agency’ instead, what you’ve done is hashtagged ‘#social’ and nothing else. Remember, hashtags are one continuous word or phrase, with no spaces.

Photo courtesy of @idobartal

Using hashtags can broaden your searchability within social networks.  If you frequently tag your posts with a certain hashtag, you enable users to search for your content based on that hashtag.  It strengthens your presence and adds one more way that your content can be found.  In addition to searchability, adding hashtags showcases your sophistication on social media – just don’t overuse them.

The strategy behind using a hashtag goes a bit further than typing ‘#’ in front of your favorite keyword.  Creating the best hashtags requires a strategy.  A well thought out plan will separate your tags from those which are mediocre.  4 points to consider for your strategy:

Be creative with your hashtags

Chose words or phrases that are unique to your business that will help differentiate your brand. Examples of a hashtags that are too generic would be ‘#law’ ‘#success’ ‘#marketing’ etc.  Lots of content is already tagged with those words and the chances of your posts showing up are slim.   Be careful you are not too specific; chances are no one will find you if you tag your posts with ‘#OrangeCountyInternetMarketingAndSEOConsultant.’  Verizon wireless does a fantastic job at cultivating good, unique hashtags.  They use ‘#VZW’ and ‘#VZWSupport’ on their Twitter account as opposed to using ‘#verizon.’

Chose hashtags that are easy to remember

People WILL be searching for your hashtags and others alike, so the easier yours is to remember, the better chance people have of finding your brand.  The best way to create memorable hashtags is to be concise.  The concept is simple, the longer the hashtag the harder it is to remember. On places like Twitter, you only have 140 characters, so you don’t want your hashtag to take up 30 of those.  With hashtagging, less is more.  A recent example of using a concise hash tag was for the 2013 Academey Awards Ceremony.  The event was tagged #oscars2013 on Twitter which was simple for users to follow along during the ceremony.

Use your hashtags on multiple channels

A few of the popular channels that support hashtagging are Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr.  If you plan on establishing a hashtag for your brand, you will want to use it on more places than just Twitter.  If you have other channels that SUPPORT hashtags, incorporate your tags there as much as you can.  Be careful that you don’t use them on the wrong channels.  For example, many businesses integrate their Twitter accounts to post tweets to their Facebook fan page.  Facebook is not a hashtagging website and when businesses post updates with hashtags, it reflects poorly on their image.  Be sure to know where you can post hashtags and where you shouldn’t.

Research your hashtags

Before choosing a hashtag, do some research and see if it’s appropriate.  With the internet has come a whole new dictionary of ‘slang’ terminology and abbreviations.  It is important to make sure your hashtag doesn’t accidently have an additional, entirely different meaning.  A few searches on the various hashtag friendly social media sites can give you an idea of what will or will not work.

Fortunately with social media, you can change your strategies as you see fit.  With hashtagging, you are not stuck with just one.  You can create as many or as few as you want.  If you feel one is not working, change it. The more tags you create and get a feel for how much traffic they pull, the better idea you have for creating the perfect hashtag.

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John is a Content Editor at Katie Wagner Social Media. He is fluent in Spanish, and has studied business and online marketing internationally.

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