Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Using #Hashtags

Hashtags are simply words or phrases with a hash tag or pound sign (#) in front of them to highlight or emphasize the specifics of the message.  For example:  If you are posting a message about a product you offer, you might do something like #newproduct  #diamondbracelet or #affordable. 

The hashtag promptly increases the chances of your post being found when someone uses  those terms in a search.  They can be a bit annoying but are important if you want your posts to be found. 

As with any tool or technique, it must be used properly to work effectively.  Below are some ways to effectively and not so effectively use hashtags. 

1.  Do Not Use Spaces – The words or phrase you want included in the hashtag cannot have any spaces.  You do not want your hashtag to look like this:  #vegetable gardening.   You need to keep the space out.  #vegetablegardening  As with a url if you want to separate the words, use upper case letters.  #VegetableGardening

2.  Do not Use Punctuation Marks of Any Kind – Adding punctuation marks or special characters will render your hashtag ineffective.  You also do not want to use all capital letters.  You can use numbers as they will be effective within your hashtag. 

3.  Do Not Overstuff – I have seen messages or posts that were nothing but a jumble of hashtags.  This is a definite no-no.  Try not to use more than two or three hashtags per message.  Using too many might give people the impression that you are a spammer.  Use them as a tool, not as your entire message.

4.  Do Not Make Them Too Long – For example: #bigsaleonallfurnituresavemoneywitheverypurchase.  As you can see this is just a big confusing mess.  Try not to use more than two or three words for your hashtag.  #FurnitureSale  You want your hashtag to be easy to understand. 

5.  Do Not Use Irrelevant Hashtags - Make sure your hashtag is related to your post content.  If you continually post hashtags that are not relevant to your content, you will just alienate your readers and followers. 

6.  Do Use Hashtags in All Social Media -–Although hashtags saw their beginning on Twitter, they are now readily used on most social media sites.  Do a little research to see the most effective way to use them for each particular social site.  Each site may have different guidelines for how to use them properly for the best results. 

7.  Do Create Your Own Hashtags – Create a relevant hashtag that has not yet been used to promote an event or special promotional campaign.  Include the hashtag in all your promotional materials and marketing. 

8.  Do Be Specific With Your Hashtags – Just as with keywords you want to really narrow in on your topic by being very specific as opposed to a generic hashtag.  Hashtags that are too generic will not generate many results.  For example: If you sell cosmetics do not use cosmetics as your hashtag.  Zero in with hashtags like #AllNaturalPerfume, #24HourLipstick or other precise terms.

9.  Do Test Your Hashtag – When you come up with a hashtag do a search for it to see if it is already in use.  The possibility exists that is could already be in use for an entirely different topic.  It could be a touchy and embarrassing situation if you used a hashtag that was already in use for something negative or a tragic event of some kind. 

10.  Do Make It Memorable and Unique – Use hashtags that are very memorable, unique and will develop some interest.  Even adding a little humor or quirkiness can make the difference between a good hashtag and a great hashtag.  Using hashtags for contests and other events is a good way to create a buzz about your business.  By making your hashtags interesting the chances of people retweeting or sharing them will be much greater. 

Always make it a point to follow hashtag etiquette.  Along with the above mentioned tips, #do #not #use #a #hashtag #with #every #word.  Do not hijack a hashtag that is already being used for an unrelated topic.  Use proper spelling.  Do not get over descriptive with too many words.  Use simple but relevant hashtags.  Don’t let your hashtag be the extent of the message.  Be sure to add content to your hashtag message.

It seems like there are a lot of do’s and don’ts to remember but do not let that deter you from learning to use hashtags.  As with any marketing tool, it must be used properly to be effective.  Hashtags could and should be a very important part of your social media marketing.  So, start slow and build up to becoming a #hashtagexpert.