360 Online Marketing | The Golden Rules of Hashtagging- When to tag, when not to, and everything inbetween.
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The Golden Rules of Hashtagging- When to tag, when not to, and everything inbetween.

07 Nov The Golden Rules of Hashtagging- When to tag, when not to, and everything inbetween.

#IsItTotallyCoolToHashtag? #Help!

We all are familiar with the convenient little sign that helps us stay trendy, keep up with the topics close to our heart and find our tribe in the vast social media world. But there’s knowing something- and then there’s understanding it enough to make it truly work for you. When should you hashtag, how do you stay trendy and how do you make sure you stick to the ‘rules’? We at 360 Online are here to help you stay on the #hashtag straight and narrow.

Hashtagging 101

Firstly, it’s important to remember that the humble hashtag now makes it’s home on a wide variety of platforms. While it was originally a Twitter exclusive, hashtags have risen to prominence on Facebook and Instagram alike- and the rules do differ. Misuse of the power tagging gives you leads to users sorting through tons of misplaced and irrelevant content- and them getting angrier and angrier as they do so. Likewise, data shows that more than 2 hashes per topic significantly reduce user engagement with your posts on most platforms. Instagram is a little more forgiving, with a boost in engagement per hashtag up to around 10, after which users drop off again.

Secondly, it’s key to remember something critical about trending tags- and that is that yours will be different from everyone else’s. Sure, we see the rise and fall of ‘big’ trends daily- but never artificially try and insert yourself somewhere you truly don’t fit just because it’s ‘big’. Rather get to know the key trends in your specific industry, and work to them, using your location, social connections and interests to stay relevant [and not alienate the customers you want to catch].

This may, if suitable, include using a hashtag specific to your brand- not always your name, simply something that represents you clearly. Think of McDonald’s and their iconic #ImLovinIt. Depending on your product lines, you can even expand this to product-relevant hashtags [as with Samsung and the #GalaxyS8], and campaign specific hashtags that put focus onto your current advertising goals. While extreme for most cases, you can even trademark these hashtags- although good luck trying to enforce this particularly well.

Quick and Simple Hashtag Rules:

Don’t string too many words together if you want to be categorized and discovered well.
Remember, public accounts post publically- and so do hashtags you use
Hashtag spam hurts you more then helps. Instagram allows a bit more variety, but keep it simple and clean.
Twitter does appreciate the use of sensibly limited hashtags, though, with a boost in engagement for posts with vs those without.
Stay relevant. The only attention unrelated tags will get you is bad attention.
You can, however, use clever, targeted and relevant content to join in trending conversations around events, holidays, pop culture and general interest.
Tread lightly- brands that push sales through public response to disasters and serious ‘trends’ have a very limited success.
Stay aware of the trends of the day and your industry, and use them wisely.
There’s a variety of hashtag research tools available to you, or you can stick to the ‘low-key’ approach and manually see what’s relevant in accounts similar to yours.
Spelling matters- it really, really does. So does the overall look of your tag- compare the PR impact of #PenIsland vs #penisland. Don’t let silly gaffes harm your brand!

The takeaway

As with most things social media related, the key to correct hashtag use is being relevant to the audience you want to attract. Try to stay very specific for maximum results- are you, say, targeting #schoolkids in their entirety, or those special few undergoing their #FirstDayAtSchool? Is it #parents who’ll enjoy your content, or is it #NewMoms or even #StayAtHomedDads? Zero in on the audience you want as much as you can.
Twitter:
Twitter users want to find conversations they care about. Public profiles can be found by anyone interested. Use one to two relevant tags per post.
Instagram:
Instagram collates all similarly tagged photos into a stream, helping content users find each other. Use a few more hashtags here, but keep it to 10 or less.
Facebook:
Facebook has a high number of users with private [vs public] accounts. Most of the hashtags used here aren’t easily discovered- the ones you do find are likely to be those of influencers and brands. Keep it to 1-2 hashtags, and consider using tags of around 10 characters.

Smart use of hashtags can help boost your brand- but be aware of the ways it can also bog your posts down, and stay smart and engaged. Remember, the 360 Online team are always here to help you take charge of your online media presence and bring your brand to the forefront of your user’s imagination.