#HashtagsHashtags, though frequently misunderstood, have become a vital element of social media. Used on almost all social media networks, hashtags drive awareness while linking related content.

Given the potential that hashtags have for boosting your social media marketing campaigns, it is important to ensure you are using them correctly. Begin by understanding how hashtags work. Since hashtags can be used in a number of different ways, take the time to understand their various purposes. For instance, you can include a hashtag in a post for improving searchability. Hashtags are also great for tapping into trends, or even creating buzz and conversation regarding your company. How you opt to use hashtags will depend on your specific objective.

In terms of boosting searchability, hashtags make it much easier for users to sort through the vast amounts of information posted on social media networks. With the use of a hashtag, you gain the ability to tap into trending, relevant conversations. When used properly, hashtags are an excellent way to provide your brands with more exposure.

Right: Use hashtags in your social media content.

Wrong: Including spaces in hashtags. Bear in mind that a hashtag can be virtually anything ranging from a single word to abbreviations to a full phrase, but there can be no spaces between the words in a hashtag. Also, do not use punctuations or symbols in your hashtag except for the # symbol at the beginning.

Right: Create your own hashtags.

Wrong: It is always a good idea to step outside the box and create your own hashtag, but do not make the mistake of using your hashtag until you have conducted a search to ensure it is actually unique. Keep in mind that no one is going to stop you from using a hashtag that has already been used, but you could encounter several problems if you accidentally post a previously used hashtag. It could result in confusion among users who are already familiar with that hashtag in its previous context. You could also draw negative attention if you use a hashtag that was previously used in relation to a sensitive topic.

Right: Leverage trending hashtags.

Wrong: In many instances, it can be a good idea to jump on the bandwagon and leverage the traffic generated by a trending hashtag. By entering a discussion centered on a topic in which there is already a hashtag, you can generate great exposure for your brand. This technique can also go horribly wrong if you are not careful. The first and most important step you should take before jumping on a trending hashtag is to make sure you understand the subject of the hashtag. Never make assumptions. Research it to see how the hashtag is being used. Make sure that your content is actually relevant to the subject on which the hashtag focuses.

Right: Use hashtags to link content on social media platforms.

Wrong: Not understanding how hashtags work on different social media platforms. Hashtags are no longer limited solely to Twitter. They are now in use across a broad spectrum of social media networks. That does not mean that they are used in the same manner. Furthermore, hashtags are not even used at all on LinkedIn. The B2B social media site did experiment with hashtags for a while, but quickly abandoned them. When it comes to Twitter, try to avoid using more than two hashtags within a single tweet to avoid overload. Hashtags are still relatively new to Facebook, so use them with care. As with Twitter, limit your use to no more than two hashtags per post. According to research by Social Bakers, abusing hashtags can result in crippling your post’s reach rather than expanding it.

Right: Include hashtags in your marketing campaign.

Wrong: Not managing your hashtags. The use of hashtags can help you to drive engagement and exposure. If you are not managing your hashtags, you could be missing out on tremendous marketing opportunities. There are numerous tools available to help you organize and even track your hashtag. Among the most popular tools is Hashtagify.me. With this tool, you can quickly view related hashtags as well as their popularity. Tagboard is a great tool to track your hashtags and how they are used across a variety of networks.

Understanding how to properly use hashtags can help you to drive engagement while boosting exposure for your brand.