Innova Communications | #HowTheHeckDoIUseHashtags
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14 Jul #HowTheHeckDoIUseHashtags

Ahhh, the hashtag. It’s a love/hate thing. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard, “I just don’t get it.” First with Twitter, now with Instagram and even in limited use on Facebook. We are here to tell you, to stop being nervous and just dive in. There is no real wrong way to hashtag, but there is a better way than you might already be doing.

Let’s break it down. Hashtags are a phenomenon that have developed through social media, in particular Twitter. What once was simply “the pound sign” is now a way to break through the noise and connect with others in an exchange of ideas, opinions, and commentary. Hashtags have managed to pervade almost every aspect of modern society – from pop culture to corporate meetings. So, what exactly is a hashtag? Twitter has a straightforward definition of their own:

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”

We actually like this really basic definition because from a marketing perspective, getting your Tweet or Post seen by new eyes, the proper “categorization” of a hashtag is the only way it can be found. So while coming up with something funny or unique is good, you want to balance those hastags with something that is commonly searched for. For example:

Happy to be partnering with @Pepsi at the #OrangeCounty Relay for Life event! #kickcancersbutt #cancerawareness #dogood #wedontreallylikecancer

There are several hastags in this post that would be commonly searched for, but the #wereallydontlikecancer one would not. It’s perfectly fine to leave it in there, but it won’t be found. For event organizers, the hashtag has become an extremely useful resource for easy sharing and event tracking. The “#” symbol allows you to create a conversation around a theme, event, or topic. These tend to be unique (not readily searched) and you want them to be adopted by your audience so your sphere of influence can increase. So how do you choose THE ONE?

  1. Keep it short and clear. If you want users to adopt and include your hashtag in their tweets, make it easy and convenient for them to do so. Also, for matters of convenience, your hashtag should be easy to spell and remember.
  2. Your hashtag should be relevant and unique. The hashtag should be as similar as possible to the event’s name or topic. However, you don’t want to choose a hashtag that’s already heavily used – the tweets around your event will be lost in the clutter. For example, for an event called Los Angeles Startups 2014, it would be unwise to select #startup as your hashtag. As we wrote this post, a search for #startup resulted in 1,314 tweets from the last 24 hours alone. A more useful hashtag would be #LAS2014 or #LosAngelesStartups14, which will ensure your event’s tweets won’t get lost in the clutter.
  3. Be thoughtful when selecting your event’s hashtag. It may seem obvious, but not every event name or topic will sound good or make sense as a hashtag. Let’s throw out a classic “what not to do”, the Susan Boyle album party-#susanalbumparty may be misinterpreted?! Ok, it was. Please look at your hashtag objectively, and share it with others before using.  It’s also a good practice to make sure that the hashtag doesn’t coincidentally form a word in another language, which could result in two very different streams colliding.

Next up, putting your hashag into action and ascertaining its value.

Amy Chilla

Amy Chilla is an interactive marketing and public relations professional. Since 1999, she has been a partner at Innova Communications, a boutique public relations, social media, and marketing firm based in Southern CA. Current industry specialties include: luxury consumer goods, translation/localization, and sports business/sporting goods, apps and financial services.

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