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Trends move fast. As a business it can be hard to keep up with them. One trend that seems to be working on social media is the now well-known #Hashtag. But, it’s not just for personal use. Businesses have figured out ways to use it for marketing campaigns. It gets people talking about their brand and the company. When done right it can have great results. When done wrong, the effects will unfortunately, be lasting and long remembered.

If you want to see a hashtag marketing campaign at work, just turn on your TV. On nearly every station, TV show and commercial you will find in the corner a little hashtag and some kind of short phrase, company name or their marketing slogan.

In one commercial break I saw these examples:

- Honey Nut Cheerios: #MustBeTheHoney

- Dr. Pepper: #ImA

- Taco Bell: #_DLT

In a commercial break with only 6 commercials they were 50/50 for hashtag use. Half of them were using hashtags to market their campaign or new products.

There is a right way and a wrong way to use hashtags. Unfortunately there are too many people out there abusing them. This defeats their purpose and honestly is just downright annoying for everyone else.

We live in a hashtag world. They are everywhere. Hashtags are on TV, on the computer, on your phone even on the radio. We get so used to seeing them, people just assume they can be used anywhere for anything. Wrong! There are certain social media platforms that don’t work with hashtags. It is important for you to know this. You don’t want to be the business using hashtags on the wrong platform or that’s the brand you’ll inadvertently present to the world. You’ll be the company that doesn’t know when or where to use hashtags. That’s a bad brand.

Social Media Platforms That Use Hashtags

Hashtags are used in these platforms to categorize comments to make them easier to search for. You can also use them to find trends in social media, the news, technology, the internet, etc.

Social Media Platforms Where Hashtags Don’t Serve a Purpose 

  • Facebook: While it’s true that Facebook began to allow hashtags on their site around June of this year, all studies have shown that they are pretty much worthless. Edgerank studies show that posts without hashtags are shared more than those with them. When you click on a hashtag, nothing really happens. Hashtags are meant to connect you with strangers with similar or even opposite views as you. On Facebook you only see hashtags from people you are following. They don’t serve a purpose. They have no viral impact.

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  • Text Messages: While this might not be considered a social media platform I still felt it should go on the list. I get texts from people all the time with hashtags in their comments. Hash tags DO NOT work in text messages. There is no way to categorize or anything, they serve no purpose. It just takes more time to write and wastes time for the person reading it.

If you are just getting started or even if you have been using hashtags for a while and want to up your game, take these guidelines into consideration. They will help keep you from blundering when using hashtags. Your social media is how you present yourself to the world, make sure you do it right.

Ways to Ensure You’re Not Making a Hashtag Faux Pas:

  1. Don’t Piggy Back Trends

Highjacking trends is not a good idea. You can easily find the top 10 trends on Twitters’ homepage. People such as Kenneth Cole have found out the hard way that piggy-backing trends is not the way to go in business.

PMIInternethashtagcole

This isn’t the first time Kenneth Cole has made a Twitter blunder like this. In this instance he is using the events in Syria to promote his footwear. It’s actions like these that cause people to boycott products and businesses. It’s best if you stay away from trends like this and keep politics out of your marketing.

  1. Plan Out Your Posts Ahead of Time

By having a plan in place you eliminate the need for spur of the moment posts. If you are always scheduling things, you will be less likely to post something you shouldn’t. This is when platforms such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck come in handy. You can see all your posts and plan ahead.

  1. Always Double Check

This includes the account, who you’re sending it to, what you are saying, how things are spelled, if it’s public or private, etc. Don’t just type or swipe and hit post. Make sure you’re using the right language for the intended audience. Keep things appropriate.

  1. Don’t Let Just Anyone Post

These are your company’s social media accounts. They are important. They are what your customers see. Don’t give complete access to all your accounts to the newest member of the team. Make sure the person in charge has experience (by experience I don’t mean maintaining their personal accounts). They should understand the business, what it stands for and what your social media goals are.

  1. Keep It Simple

Hashtags should be short, sweet and to the point. They aren’t a story or a headline. No one wants to read a 10 word hashtag.

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She has 7 hashtags for one image and most of them are so long it takes 5 minutes to get through.

If you are going to use hashtags you also have to understand how they work. You can’t just type whatever you want, add a hashtag at the front and be good to go. A hashtag will end when there is punctuation. If you write #it’ssofun, it will only show as #it. So, in this girl’s case, when she writes “#right?” it loses its meaning and becomes #right.

If you thought 7 hashtags was bad, wait ‘til you see this!

toomanyhashtags2

Hashtag after hashtag after hashtag. There are 27 hashtags for this photo alone. One of them is so long you have to really concentrate to figure out what it says (plus it covers my 9 month food baby so mission accomplished). Really? She may just be trying to be funny, but it’s abusing hashtags and making it frustrating for everyone else. This is called spamming. It might not be the spamming you’re used to, but it’s still considered spamming. Don’t do it.

One of the reasons her hashtags are so hard to read is because she doesn’t use capitalization to define when one word ends and another begins. #isureamcomfythough is a lot harder to read than #ISureAmComfyThough. It’s still a little long, but the caps help.

Before you start hashtagging like crazy make sure you know how they work, what their purpose is and how to use them right. Abusing hashtags doesn’t benefit anyone. In the end it just defeats their purpose and gives a bad name to your brand.

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