Hashtag Cheat Sheet
If you spend time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media sites, you’ve likely seen the “#” symbol used in a post or tweet. Known as a hashtag, this symbol is actually a powerful tool that can help you extend your marketing reach and increase engagement with your audience.
Yet I’ve discovered that many of my clients and colleagues don’t know much about them. If you fall into this category and you want to learn more about how you can use hashtags in your marketing, this “hashtag cheat sheet” is for you.
What is a hashtag?
• A label for categorizing content on social media
What are hashtags used for?
• Lets you engage with social media users to discuss a common theme or interest
• Allows others to easily find your content
• Helps you find relevant content on a topic when you search using a hashtag
• In the case of big events, a hashtag lets people to share their opinions and sentiments
• Can be used to market your business content
What’s in a hashtag?
• Must begin with # symbol
• Can be a single word, entire phrase, abbreviation, or combo of letters and numbers
• Cannot use all numbers – must be combo of numbers and at least 1 letter
• No spaces – all characters must run together (example: #ReadyForTheWeekend)
• No punctuation, other than the hashtag at the beginning
How do I create a hashtag?
• Just think it up and start using it in your messages
• For hashtag ideas or to see what’s trending, check out Hashtagify.me, RiteTag, Sprout Social
• Hashtags can be added anywhere in your message, but usually at the end
• Hashtags do not need to be registered – just create and use
Hashtag Do’s and Don’ts
• Keep it short, understandable and easy to remember
• Be specific – this helps you target a certain audience
• Don’t overuse – only 1-2 hashtags per message
• Don’t add a hashtag to an unrelated message just to get attention for your content – you could be flagged as a spammer
• Understand the various ways hashtags are used on different social media platforms
• Note: Google+ automatically adds a hashtag to your content – can switch to manual mode if you want to select your own
Is it okay to use an existing hashtag?
• If joining an ongoing discussion, it’s okay to use a hashtag currently in use – simply add it to the end of your social media update
• If starting a new discussion, it’s best to come up with your own – otherwise, it can be confusing or seen as trying to hijack another discussion to gain attention
• Don’t use hashtag if same or similar to a user name – could be seen as trademark violation or attempt to hijack that person’s brand and may result in cease-and-desist letter
• Okay to use generic hashtags like #Marketing or #Sales
Where to use a hashtag?
• On numerous social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, etc.
• In your marketing messaging to identify content, videos, photos, events, contests and more
How can hashtags be used with small businesses?
• Hold a contest – get people to enter your contest by using a hashtag
• Network with others – use #FollowFriday or #FF to call out helpful content on Twitter
• Conduct a Twitter chat – a hashtag helps you easily follow tweets in a particular chat
• Connect with conference attendees – most conferences use hashtags to promote their event; you can use it to see who is attending, then connect with individuals separately
• Share business content using generic hashtags – to find business content, search for specific hashtags like #Marketing; to share your content, use generic hashtags within your content
• Hashtags can also help you: find better conversations, join a chat, conduct research, locate a specific group online, scout the competition
Now that you know what #hashtags are and how they can help you connect with your audience, get out there and start using them!