Before I go into how to use hashtags, let’s start with what they actually are.
“Using hashtags to categorize Tweets by keyword: Peo
ple use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets marked with that keyword.” - Twitter
Hashtags are an extremely effective element of your social media strategy, if done correctly. Let’s take a look at 5 things to keep in mind.
Keep it simple
As detailed above, a hashtag helps categorize your content and allow people to follow a trend and even help you engage with a community. Your hashtags should not only be relevant to your content and company, but easy to use. Two great examples of this are #MashReads via Mashable and #Mozinar from Moz.
Make sure your clever new hashtag is not already used. There are horror stories all over the web of inappropriate mistakes and blatant misuse.
Know where to use them
Don’t use hashtags on LinkedIn. There are several platforms that support the use of hashtags, so know where to use them and the best practices for each.
Currently, of the major social networks, the following support the use of hashtags:
- and of course Twitter
Email, LinkedIn, and real life do not support them. You don't want to end up like Jimmy Fallon & Justin TImberlake in #Hastag (one of the best clips ever in my opinion).
Make it relevant
You need to use a hashtagpeople will remember, are searching for and can use. #kidnapandransominsuranceforyourlovedonesthisholidayseason will probably not get you too far. However being too vague with a hashtag like #noise, may not get the audience you want if you want them to know about your new Noise Reduction System class.
Stick with it
If it’s working and people are having a conversation around your hashtag, it’s driving traffic, and perhaps even helping you trend then stick with it.
My friend Tim Leman has not only utilized, but made #WhatstheRisk part of his online persona.
What brand do you want to share with the Twittererse and beyond with your #?