5 tips to avoid hashtag stew

At work, I was recently asked whether a web banner bearing an advertising message should include a hashtag in front of the call to action.

The call to action did not require the audience to tweet a response or upload an image to Instagram.

So what was the point?

Hashtags are everywhere, even on Facebook. So when should we smash them out or trash them?

The (current) rules of engagement

  1. Hashtags live on Twitter and Instagram. Participants in these networks are using hashtags effectively to categorise information, connect, engage and expand their reach. Hashtags die on Facebook.
  2. Keep to one or two hashtags on Twitter and about eleven on Instagram. They’re the magic numbers according to an excellent article by Kevan Lee. Unless you intend to engage with hundreds of random subgroups, use more and you’re a spammer. Yes you.
  3. Don’t make up random hashtags unless they’re likely to fly. If a category has been defined and has a substantial audience; use it.
  4. Avoid hashtags that can be misconstrued or used for something entirely different. Susan Boyle’s album party hashtag is a good example – #susanalbumparty – eek.
  5. Scrap the hashtag if you don’t intend for your audience to take action in the social realm.

The key to hashtags and social media in general is to keep up-to-date. Communication and what’s considered best practice is evolving quickly. What’s right today could be wrong tomorrow, so watch trends and do your own research to see what works and what’s an #epicfail.

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