Nine Proper Ways to Utilize Hashtags

By Miriam Slozberg- Social Media Manager and Consultant, Canada

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A lot of people still don’t understand the use of hashtags. However, they are just words or phrases with a hashtag or pound sign (#) in front of them to highlight or emphasize the specifics of the message. For instance, if you are posting a message about a new service you are offering, you might do something like #newservice #seoservices (or whatever you are offering) or #getyourspot.

What the hashtag does is it helps increase the chances of your post being found when someone uses those terms in a search. And just like with any tool or technique, hashtags must be used properly to work well. Below are some ways to effectively and not so effectively use hashtags.

1. Never Use Spaces or Punctutation Marks – The words or phrase you want included in the hashtag cannot have any spaces or punctuation marks like !&?. You don’t want your hashtag to appear this way- #dog food. Keep the space out and use #dogfood instead. You can use upper case letters as well if you think it looks better. #DogFood.

2. Space Them Out - You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram but do not throw them at once. Use 3 after your text and then create spaces underneath and add the rest there. Here is an example.

Get your new product here! #hashtag1 #hashtag2 #hashtag3
#hashtag4 #hashtag5 #hashtag6 #hashtag7 #hashtag8 and so on!
This way most of the hashtags are hidden in the post but are just as searchable. It appears a lot less spammy this way.

3. Don’t Make them Long - Keep your hashtags short or use a maximum of 3 words in one tag like “getitnow.
Avoid using a sentence in a hashtag. In other words don’t use “gogetthenewdogfoodnow.

4. Keep your Hashtags Relevant – Always make sure your hashtag is related to your post content. If you continually post hashtags that are not relevant to your content, you will just alienate your readers and followers and then they will keep disappearing.

5. Use Hashtags in All Social Media – Although hashtags saw their beginning on Twitter, they are now readily used on most social media sites. Do a little research to see the most effective way to use them for each particular social site. Each site may have different guidelines for how to use them properly for the best results.

6. Do Create Your Own Hashtags – Create a relevant hashtag that has not yet been used to promote an event or special promotional campaign. Include the hashtag in all your promotional materials and marketing like I do if I am sharing a post from my mom blog, #ExpressiveMom.

7. Always Be Specific With Your Hashtags – Just as with keywords you want to really narrow in on your topic by being very specific as opposed to a generic hashtag. Hashtags that are too generic will not generate many results. For instance, if you sell candy do not use candy as your hashtag. Be specific such as #darkchocolate, #redgummybears or anything that is precise.

8. Test Your Hashtags – When you come up with a hashtag do a search for it to see if it is already in use. The possibility exists that is could already be in use for an entirely different topic. It would be a very bad and embarrassing situation if you used a hashtag that was already in use for something negative or a tragic event of some kind. Always do your research before hand.

9. Make Your Hashtags Memorable and Unique – Use hashtags that are very memorable, unique and will develop some interest. Even adding a little humor or quirkiness can make the difference between a good hashtag and a great hashtag. Using hashtags for contests and other events is a good way to create a buzz about your business. By making your hashtags interesting the chances of people retweeting or sharing them will be much greater.

Always make it a point to follow hashtag etiquette. Along with the above mentioned tips, #do #not #use #a #hashtag #with #every #word. Do not hijack a hashtag that is already being used for an unrelated topic. Use proper spelling. Do not get over descriptive with too many words. Use simple but relevant hashtags. Don’t let your hashtag be the extent of the message. Be sure to add content to your hashtag message.


Miriam Slozberg is an experienced social media manager, follow Miriam on @miriamslozberg or visit Miriam's website.


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