Have you ever met someone who says “hashtag” in real life conversation? You know, you’re chatting with them and they say something funny, followed by “hashtagLOL”. I’ve encountered a few people who do this, and it really goes to show just how pervasive the concept of the hashtag has become in everyday life. Even Facebook has started implementing them! However, much like saying the word hashtag doesn’t actually do anything, there are plenty of people out there who are not using hashtags to their full potential. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re using the hashtag correctly.
Too many hashtags will make your content harder to find
PROBLEM: Take a look at this tweet, and see if you can spot the problem:
Not only does this look really ugly, but it can actually damage your chances of gaining more followers: Twitter accounts that overuse hashtags actually notice a decrease in engagement.
SOLUTION: If you must use more than one, limit your tweets to two to three relevant hashtags. You want to make your tweets easier to find, not harder.
Make sure your hashtags are specific
PROBLEM: Coming up with hashtags can be difficult. After all, you can’t put in any spaces, which sometimes results in multiple words being strung together into a jumbled mess.
SOLUTION: This tip goes for both Twitter and Facebook--make sure your hashtags are clear, concise, and to the point. It needs to be something a reader would reasonably look up.
For example, if you’re providing information on where to get make up deals, do not tag your status with #wheretogetmakeupdeals. That is way too long, and not nearly as effective as #makeupdeals.
Use trending topics... properly
PROBLEM: Finding out what topics are most popular on Twitter at any given moment is actually really easy. All you need to do is check the trending topics area of the page to know what hashtags people are especially paying attention to at that moment. You’d think this would give you a great opportunity to reach a lot of people...
SOLUTION: ...Of course, because this information is so easily available, it’s also easily abused. Do not use trending topics when they have no relevance to the actual content of your tweet. You will come off looking spam-y, and no one will take your tweets seriously.
Not everything needs a hashtag
PROBLEM: Even though you’re putting hashtags in every status update, you may not gain any new followers. In fact, you can sometimes find yourself losing the ones you have!
SOLUTION: Much like you shouldn’t cram as many hashtags as possible into one status update, you also shouldn’t use one where it just isn’t needed. Don’t forget the ‘social’ aspect of social media--people want interaction, and constantly having hashtags in every little tweet as a form of self-promotion can make you seem a little desperate and self-centred to your followers.
Similar tags for similar topics
PROBLEM: You’re obviously going to be discussing a lot of similar topics or themes in your status updates, and it is very important to keep things organized, both for the benefit of your followers, and for attracting new ones.
SOLUTION: Try to remain consistent with your hashtags. Creating a handful of distinct hashtags and using them on a regular basis not only helps sort your content, but it also makes your updates stand out from the crowd and easier to find!
That being said, make sure your hashtags can be used by other people as well. You want to not only share your updates, but interact with your potential audience, and hashtags that are too strange or unreliable won’t help foster community.
Readers, do you find gratuitous hashtagging annoying, or have you learned to ignore it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!