The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Hashtags on Social Media (Updated 2017)

The dos and donts of using hashtag on social media

Who doesn't love hashtags, right?

The concept of hashtags was first made popular by Twitter and was soon adopted by other leading social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and more.

For years, people have been using hashtags to discover meaningful information or run a marketing campaign. Individuals belonging to different domains also use it to organize their content on social media. In fact, the word (hashtag) has been officially included in the Oxford Dictionary as well.

While most of the people already know how to use a hashtag to find other users who share the same interest, not everyone is familiar with the basic do's and don'ts of using hashtags on social media.

Have you ever come across a post like "I # love # food #".

Well, I have.

It doesn't matter if you are an experienced marketer or just a novice social media user, you should always be internet-savvy and smart. I have listed a few essential do's and don'ts for using hashtags on social media that every individual should follow to gain fruitful results. Let's unravel them by taking one step at a time!

What are the things that I should do?

Well, this one is pretty easy. Before letting you know about all the basic things that you should avoid while using hashtags, let's focus on what you should DO instead.

#1: Do focus on every platform individually

Most of the people make the rookie mistake of treating every social media platform the same way. The hashtags that work really well on Instagram might give you an all-time low result on Twitter. You need to know the difference between social media platforms before coming up with relevant hashtags.

For instance, your target audience on Facebook will be different from that on Twitter. Always think of your readers before running a hashtag campaign. Additionally, make yourself familiar with how hashtags work on a respective network. Twitter has already published a guide on Hashtags and their usage.

Every hashtag works differently on each social media platform. For instance, Charmin really understood its audience on Twitter before commencing their #TweetFromTheSeat campaign. It won all over Twitter in no time. Needless to say, it would not have provided the same results on Facebook or Instagram.

hashtag-focus-on-every-platform

#2: Do come up with an original, relevant, and un-branded hashtag

You should always do your bit of research before finalizing a hashtag for your marketing campaign. If you will simply copy (or tweak) a hashtag that was already used by any other brand, then you won't be able to achieve fruitful results from it.

Don't just come up with a hashtag out of the blue. It is always recommended to make a list of all the shortlisted hashtags and then do a little research on them. Search them on social media platforms to make sure that they are original.

Also, your hashtag should be relevant and has a motive behind it. You can't use a random or vague hashtag to define your purpose. It should have a meaning and be related to your brand's value and voice.

Nevertheless, don't push it too much by including your brand's name in a hashtag. Other users might resist a little if your hashtag has your brand name (since it looks overly promotional). Make sure that your hashtag is un-branded and still relevant to your campaign.

Though, there might be a few exceptions here. For instance, if you are organizing a tweetchat (or an event), then you can always add your brand name (or tagline) to come up with an interesting hashtag. We all know how tactfully various digital marketing names like Buffer and Hootsuite have utilized this while naming their tweetchats as #bufferchat and #hootchat respectively.

LAY'S has recently announced their #DoUsAFlavor campaign on Twitter. It is one of the best examples of how to come up with a smart and relevant hashtag for your brand.

original-relevant-hashtags

#3: Do keep your hashtag precise, simple, and easy to spell

After all, if your audience is not able to understand your hashtag, then how can they use it freely?

If you will use an overly complicated hashtag, then it will only confuse your audience. It should be small, simple, and define its purpose without much hassle. Don't give your audience a hard time just to understand its meaning.

Also, don't use long words that would be hard to spell. If you do so, then chances are that either you or your audience might end up misspelling them. The length of your hashtag should not be more than 2-3 words else you might end up confusing your audience.

Whenever you are posting your hashtag, always take a step back to double check everything.

  • Is your hashtag sounding proper?
  • Is your hashtag giving away a different meaning?
  • Is it relevant to your brand?
  • Will your target audience appreciate it?

These are the kinds of questions that you should always ask before coming up with a new hashtag. It will let you avoid making all those common mistakes while running a hashtag campaign.

Coca-Cola's #ShareaCoke is a perfect example of how a simple and meaningful hashtag campaign can go viral in no time.

#shareacoke hashtag campaign

#4: Do engage with your audience (using your hashtag)

Your hashtag campaign won't yield productive results if you won't communicate with your audience. You should understand that social media is all about maintaining a two-way communication. It is always recommended to engage in smart and meaningful conversations with your audience in order to propagate the overall reach of your hashtag.

Most of the brands these days walk an extra mile in order to communicate with their audience. Additionally, while engaging with your audience, you should use your hashtag and encourage them to do the same.

Netflix is doing a remarkable job on Twitter in order to promote their latest original series #IronFist. The brand managers are leaving no stones unturned while communicating with their audience in different ways.

#ironfist hashtag campaign

#5: Do incorporate relevant keywords in hashtags

This will help you to stay specific to your domain and you can easily connect your brand with it as well. It doesn't matter what industry you belong to, you can always handpick a few relevant keywords. There is definitely no harm in using those keywords as hashtags every once in a while.

This will make it easier for your audience to find you. You would be able to reach out to a pool of wider audience (including influencers and experts), and can easily showcase your content to others. Not just Twitter, this can also be followed on Instagram and Pinterest. Additionally, on platforms like Tumblr, there are dedicated communities related to key hashtags that you can be a part of.

Buffer also takes the assistance of crucial keywords in hashtags like SocialSmarter, DigitalMarketing, Bufferchat, etc. in an impressive manner. Not only it helps them to create their own community, but it also generates more traction as well.

use keywords in hashtags

What are the things I should avoid while hashtags marketing?

Great! Now when you know about some essential tips that you should follow while using hashtags on social media, let's step it up a little. There are times when people overdo it a little by using numerous hashtags in a post or create a gibberish hashtag altogether. These are the kinds of practices that every social media user should avoid. Here are some common things that you should always avoid while using hashtags.

#1: Don't overuse hashtags in a single post

Almost every day, I see people posting stuff on social media with 8-10 hashtags in a single update. Trust me – it is a major turn off. If you are doing the same, then you should stop it right away.

If you are working on a platform like Twitter or Facebook, then you should not use more than 2-3 hashtags in a single post. The number can be increased for other platforms like Instagram or Tumblr, but you should do it tactfully. You should not come out as a spammer.

Additionally, it gives a bad impression to your audience as well. Focus on a cloud of limited hashtags. You can always make a list of commonly used keywords and include them as inline hashtags with respect to their relevance. Posting tweets like this one can never let you attain productive results.

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#2: Don't solely rely on hashtags for marketing

You can't simply expect your hashtags to do all the work. You should deliver an equally thoughtful and well-researched content with it as well. Taking the assistance of visual aids can always boost the overall reach of your content.

You need to make an effort in order to propagate your hashtag's reach by getting in touch with right influencers. Also, you can plan a small giveaway or contest around the hashtag. Organizing a tweetchat is another smart way to boost the reach of your hashtag.

Coming up with a hashtag is just the first step. If you wish to get your hashtag trending on Twitter, then you need to make an effort.

The next time you come up with a hashtag campaign, think of its entire execution plan beforehand. Bing's #SupportJapan is a perfect example of the same. While they wanted to drive this campaign for a noble cause, they ended up making lots of people angry instead. This is because they failed to come up with a thoughtful execution plan for their hashtag campaign. Make sure that you don't commit a mistake like this.

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The next time you come up with a hashtag campaign, think of its entire execution plan beforehand.

#3: Don't be too competitive in marketing hashtag campaign

Most of the times, people get overly competitive on social media and start posting negative things about each other. If you are handling a brand page, then this is a big no-no. If you don't have anything good to say about others, then it is better to maintain a neutral approach.

Don't come up with a hashtag that is demeaning to your competitors. Using their brand's name in a negative way will only cause more trouble. Even including their tagline or anything that might link your audience to them should be avoided.

When it comes to social media, people can react to an overly-competitive move like this in a bad way. You might end up losing your prospective leads as well.

Be a little cautious when interacting with other brands on Twitter while running a hashtag campaign. If you don't maintain a friendly relationship with them, then try not to mention their name. Even the sweetest of brands can be a little competitive on Twitter at times. A while back KitKat called Oreo for a game of tic-tac-toe.

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Needless to say, it didn't end pretty well, as Oreo came up with an amazing comeback.

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#4: Don't be offensive while running hashtag campaign

Almost every major social media platform has a pool of diverse audience. People from various countries, practicing different religions, and belonging to several sexual orientations interact with each other. It doesn't matter if you represent an international brand or if you are focused on a local audience – you can't be offensive to anyone.

Don't judge your audience or pass a condescending statement regarding their gender, race, belief, etc. There is nothing wrong with being a little sarcastic while coming up with a funny hashtag, but you should always know where the line is. Don't be offensive to anyone and respect their individuality.

Recently, Entenmann's came up with a #notguilty campaign to promote their low-calorie sweets. It quickly backfired as people associated it with Casey Anthony's trial that was taking place at the same time. Entenmann's had to delete the tweet and formally apologized afterward.

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#5: Don't hashtag everything while posting tweets

#Do #you #also #write #like #this?

If your answer is "yes", then you need to stop this practice right away. Not only is it annoying, but it will never let you create a persisting brand image.

Trust me – you can't expect your audience to take you seriously if you are writing like this. You can't expect a gibberish hashtag or an ordinary word to get trending. It needs to have a meaning behind it and should be thoughtfully included in your updates.

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Source

Just. Don't. Do. It.

Now when you are familiar with some of the basic do's and don'ts for using hashtags on social media, I'm sure you will be a pro in no time. Go ahead and come up with a viral hashtag campaign. Feel free to drop a comment if you have any question.



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