Social Media Marketing: Be Wise, Hashtag Responsibly

As the popularity of the microblogging social networking site, Twitter, grew, so did that pesky pound symbol.  Big thanks to Twitter for this new practice of “writing style.”  Now we see hashtags used on just about every social networking service or microblogging site, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, Flickr, and many others.

What started as a way for people to find and join a particular conversation, group, or topic is now a cliché.  #People #literally #hashtag #every #single #word #in #a #sentence.  There’s almost a notion of it being a cultural phenomenon and, quite frankly, one that needs to end immediately.  Not everything needs to be hashtagged.  There are, however, useful ways to use the pound sign.

  1. If the hashtag adds no value to your post, simply avoid it.
  2. Understand that your readers use hashtags to categorize the content of their posts, and they expect you to do the same.  Be specific—to your name, your brand, or your topic.  Yes, you want your post to be placed in front of the masses, but to truly connect, you need to fine-tune your tags.
  3. Practice self-control.  As previously stated, some people like to hashtag every word in a sentence.  It’s completely unnecessary and, in most cases, downright annoying.  Two or three tags are plenty in a single post.
  4. Think about what you’re tagging before you tag it.  What kind of message are you trying to send?  Keep in mind that your posts will come up alongside whatever other posts that have similar tags.  Be wise with your choice of language and messaging.
  5. Keep your posts legible.  No one should have to succumb to some mind-numbing, eyeball-assaulting gobbledygook.  It shouldn’t take minutes, or even a few moments, to decipher your hashtags.  Be easy on the eye.  Use capital letters, if necessary.  For example, it’s okay to tag #BurgerKing because it’s short and simple to read, despite the tag exceeding a single word.
  6. Join topics that matter.  When notable events occur in your community or around the country or globe, it’s okay to hashtag and join the conversation.  Again, be smart and limit yourself.

It’s high time for the masses to become a bit more self-conscious about the pound sign.  Use them wisely and sparingly, and you may find more of the attention you were looking for in the first place.

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