How to Navigate the Complex World of HashtagsAre you having trouble making hashtags work for your marketing promotions? If so, you are certainly not alone. First introduced in 2007 by Twitter, hashtags are not exactly new to the sphere of social media, yet many companies struggle with using them properly. Whether you are trying to make hashtags work for you on Twitter or Facebook, it is important to understand a few golden rules in order to make the most of hashtag promotions.

Why Are Hashtags Necessary?

First, it is important to understand the purpose of hashtags. The ultimate goal of hashtags in terms of marketing is to search for social media conversations where your target market spends time. Hashtags bring relevant marketing messages together. When using hashtags, keep in mind that regardless of the platform, a hashtag is clickable, thus redirecting users to a page where they can view all the images and messages related to that hashtag. Hashtags can also be beneficial for reaching a large audience via a visual social campaign.

Among the biggest challenges facing companies today in utilizing hashtags is how to incorporate them properly in Facebook. This is largely due to the fact that Facebook was somewhat late in terms of adding the use of hashtags. It was not actually until mid-2013 that Facebook finally gave in and incorporated hashtags.

Bringing Your Message Together with Hashtags

Take advantage of the opportunity to categorize your content with the use of hashtags. This makes it much easier for your target audience to locate posts related to topics or events that interest them. Not only does this provide your marketing message with more cohesion, but it also assists your customers in finding your social content more easily.

Tread Lightly

Employing the use of popular hashtags can also help to expand the reach of your content, but you need to be careful in using this strategy. Take the time to research popular hashtags and make certain that you know the original intent behind them before you use them in your social media campaigns. Otherwise, you could find that you have unintentionally strayed into a divisive area or could even discover after the fact that you have inadvertently used a hashtag associated with a tragedy or disaster. This is a lesson that several well-known brands have learned the hard way. Entenmanns strayed into dangerous territory when they used the #notguilty during the Casey Anthony trial. More recently, DiGiorno’s hijacked the trending hashtag #whyIstayed. Within moments, their marketing team discovered that the hashtag was trending because it was associated with a campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse. Sprout Social is an excellent tool to use for identifying, searching, and using hashtags.

Don’t Overuse Them

Keep in mind that while hashtags can help you to gain exposure, you could have too much of a good thing. Always use hashtags wisely and sparingly. Using too many hashtags within a social media post can quickly become overload. This can ultimately result in detracting attention from your social media content. The general rule of thumb is that you should limit your use of hashtags to between one and three per post. Anything more than that could confuse users or even be viewed as spam.

Keep It Simple

Your use of hashtags should also be kept simple. Above all, you want to make sure that the hashtags you utilize are easy to remember. Avoid hashtags that are difficult to spell and overly long. Focus on creating hashtags that encapsulate the ideas represented in your social media campaign.

Spread It

Once you have decided on the right hashtag, take advantage of the opportunity to use it on multiple social media platforms. Facebook may have been late to the game, but hashtags are now widely in use in all major social media platforms, including Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+. By using hashtags on multiple social media platforms, you can tie your campaign together.

When handled properly, the use of hashtags is an excellent way to promote your brand and boost your audience.