How to use #Hashtags

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Hashtags are awesome little things that help you organise your social media posts and tweets by topic. That sounds awesome right? Well in theory hashtags can be very useful and cool, but in practice so many people are wasting their time and annoying everybody by using hashtags incorrectly which is #hastiespetpeeve.

Here are some tips for effective hashtagging.

1. Be specific with your hashtags

For these examples I’m using some made up brands (Maximum Cake Shop, Tyre World and The Art Shack which are all fictionally based in my home town Newcastle)

For your hashtags don’t use generic expressions like #cake, #tyre , #art as there will be a million #cake, #tyres or #art hashtags out there and the whole purpose of using a hashtag is so that people can find your post or content more easily.

For Maximum Cakes: #maximumcake or #maximumcakes.

For Tyre World: #tyreworldnewcastle  I’d add a location because the original name might be a franchise or chain.

The Art Shack: #artshack or #theartshack or #theartshacknewcastle The first one is fine if no one else is using the name or hashtag but the hashtag may need to be made more specific if the name or hashtag is already in play.

2. Don’t use too many hashtags

This should be obvious but I’m going to say it DON’T USE TOO MANY HASHTAGS!

Three to five meaningful hashtags are enough!

Here is an example of truly horrendous hashtagging. The hashtags are so generic that it makes my mind bleed.

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3. Hashtags can and should be extended.

I work at an Arts Newspaper called The Follower. We might have an event like an open studio coming up. This is how I’d hashtag a post about the event.

#thefollowerNewspaper #thefollowerEvent #thefollowerOpenstudio

#thefollowerNewspaper The Follower is the brand I’m representing so it is the most logical choice for a hashtag as someone will conceivably want to see all posts by The Follower.

#thefollowerEvent This is useful if you want to see all posts about The Follower’s events.

#thefollowerOpenstudio This hashtag is specific to the open studio event so I’d put it on all promo material for the event as well as on all photos. This will allow people who are only interested in the event to easily find content relating to the event.

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4. Think about what you are trying to say and then say it.

If you are using social media to promote a business or cause, always try and have a clear idea of what you are trying to say, to whom you are saying it to and why. Using too many hashtags or irrelevant tags is fun on your personal Instagram account but it is just digital garbage in professional social media practice.

5. Hashtags can be Acronyms.

Take International Women’s Day 2015 for example. Instead of typing that out over and over a successful hashtag IWD2015 was used across the media to great effect.

I hope that these tips are helpful. Together we can rid the world of excessive hashtagging!

Thanks for listening.

#benhastie #advancedstrategiccommunications #howtousehashtags

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