Twitter, Google + (The Matrix), Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook all use hashtags to help users keep track of engagement, amplify their reach, and help locate potential business opportunities.

 Are you or your brand just getting started on any of these networks? Get together with your social team to discuss how to effectively use hashtags. Consider whether or not they are useful for your brand and, if so, when and where to use them. Like most things in life, there is a required etiquette – in this case, hashtag etiquette.

I am certain we all have seen a post or a tweet where every word is a hashtag. One well placed “#” symbol before the keyword of choice should do the trick, in some instances two words are fine. It is important to make sure the hashtag of choice is relative to the content being shared. Appending the wrong hashtag to a tweet or post just leads to confusion, which can ultimately lead to negative sentiments.

Hashtag Business Value

HashTags_ArticleAs social media continues to evolve so will the hashtag. You see them on TV shows and commercials on the lower left-hand corner of the screen. ESPN’s Sportscenter utilizes #SCTOP10, encouraging viewers to tweet which plays should make their Top 10. The goal is to aid viewership and engagement.

Amex (@AmexSync) recently partnered up with Twitter to purchase hashtags, and Facebook is already pushing hashtag users to incorporate keywords into their advertising campaigns. Brands have to be strategic with the use of the hashtag or risk alienating consumer groups with too much noise. 

Hashtags can help humanize a topic as well. Remember when the White House launched the campaign “What does #40dollars mean to you?” which was centered around the big payroll tax debate? Thousands of people who would have been affected by the tax cut made their voices heard resulting from an extension of the payroll tax, thus rendering the hashtag campaign a success. 

Do you have an idea for a cross-platform campaign? Gather your team and take a look at Nike’s #MakeItCount campaign.  #MakeItCount spans Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, television advertisements, and in-store visual placements. The campaign, which was originally based around the Fuel Band, has now morphed into a worldwide call for everyone to set fitness goals. #MakeItCount is a very successful hashtag campaign; not only enhancing brand awareness but also spiking Nike sales.

Once your team has decided on the use of a hashtag, you have to ask: 

  • Are the hashtags broad like #socialmedia, #education or #healthcare?

  • Is the hashtag part of someone’s existing campaign?

  • Did your team create a hashtag that would be exclusive to members of your online community?

  • Looking to tie in your product to a trending hashtag?

Do some research! Before making a final decision on a hashtag, double-check it.

Hashtag Tools

Here are a few sites you can use as hashtag tools.

Head over to twubs.com, a directory where you can provide a definition for a pre-existing hashtag, or register and define a new one.

If you need more than the basics and are looking for more detailed analytic information on particular hashtags then hashtracking.com may be of interest. The site allows the tracking of a single hashtag for 30 days using the free trial.

Hashtags.org displays how often a hashtag is used on Twitter, as well some background information.

#Tagboard allows users to get a quick overview of a hashtag across most of the major social networks all at once. You can sign in using existing Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter the network, the true value of a hashtag is based on how many people engage with them and ultimately share them.