Hashtags are ubiquitous. One can hardly read a post on Facebook or Instagram, not to mention Twitter, without seeing a related hashtag. However, not all hashtags are useful and some can actually confuse or muddle the message you’re trying to send. Especially when tweeting, since Twitter is where every post is littered with hashtags.

Before you use hashtags, you have to consider what it is you’re doing. Why are you posting? Are you hoping to start a conversation, or joining an ongoing one? Are you tweeting about a movement, or a national or international news story? If you’re joining a conversation or tweeting about something that’s going on, then of course you’re going to use that topic’s hashtags to your tweet. Or if you’re attending a conference, then using the conference hashtags will get you attention from everyone else also attending or following.

Maybe you’re running a contest, or wanting to generate buzz around a sale or a brand new product. In that case, creating a new, unique hashtag is the way to go. If it’s a product launch or contest, make sure that you retire the hashtag at the end of the campaign, but until then, use it as much as you can.

To make sure that you’re coming up with the best possible hashtags for your tweets, we have some do’s and don’ts.

Hashtag Do’s

  • Make your hashtags easy to remember, and spell. Look them over for typos before you hit that tweet button. If your hashtag has a typo then it will probably be undiscoverable.
  • Have realistic expectations. For people to find your hashtag, it needs to be relevant to what they’re looking for. If you’re continuously using your brand slogan and wondering why no one else is, then perhaps it doesn’t fit naturally.
  • Do your research well. Check to see what hashtags are already being used when people are talking about your company and brand, and then capitalize on those. Check also to see that any new hashtags you’re ready to start using are not already being used by other companies or brands. Using them will not do you any favors.
  • Make your hashtag relevant. Give people a reason to use it. You can do this by running contests and giveaways, and asking people to use your hashtag to enter. It will make your audience respond better to you.
  • Create partnerships with influencers, and they can help your hashtag gain visibility and exposure.

 Hashtag Don’ts

  • Over hash tagging is a no-no. And yet too many people add 6 or 7 hashtags to their tweets, when really 1 or 2 relevant hashtags are optimal. Character count is important in Twitter.
  • Don’t expect your brand slogan to easily convert to a hashtag, if it’s not shareable and discoverable. If your brand slogan is not an organic fit within a tweet, it will feel forced and it’s best not to use it for that purpose.
  • Don’t neglect to educate your followers on what your hashtag is and how best to use it. You have to communicate the hashtag clearly, and explain why it’s important that others use it in their tweets.
  • NEVER use all caps lock. Unless it’s an acronym, where all caps work better, any other time it feels like you’re shouting.

 Used correctly, hashtags can grow your reach quite effectively and keep bringing more people into the conversation you start.

Read more relevant blog post: Engaging With Journalists on Social Media