How to use Hashtags Like a Pro

Do hashtags confuse you?  Do you wonder why people use them?  Are you not really that sure when you should use them?  Well, you are not alone.  I recently presented to a group of really, really smart people and one finally asked the question they were all wondering:  “how do you actually use hashtags?” Nearly every person in the room was nodding in agreement and had that can you tell us look.  So, here are my tips to use hashtags like a pro.

My Definition:  A hashtag is denoted by the “#” in front of a word.  For example, #photooftheday.  Marketers use it to track and  leverage a trending campaign.  The best case scenario is for a marketer to use a hashtag and create a trending campaign.  The average joe can use it to follow conversations, conferences, trends, industries, authors, and on and on.  You can see any conversations taking place on a subject even if not following the people having the conversations.  It is a great tool!

Using Hashtags Like a pro,,

1. Do Your Homework

If you want to create a hashtag, because anyone can, do some research first.  Use the search function in Twitter to see if it is already used.  If it is, check to see if it is for the same purpose you intended.  For example, if you want to use a hashtag for the information and communications technology, affectionately known as ICT, low and behold someone beat you to it: #ICT.  So, you can use it.

Now, if you are having a conference and it is very specific, chances are you could be the first one to use a hashtag.  For example, just for fun I searched #conferenceofme.  I would have been surprised to see one already in use for that particular item, and I was correct.  So, if you want to use it, go for it.

2.  Don’t Hijack a Hashtag

This should be a logical next step after reading the preceding item.  If for example I started using #conferenceofme for a specific reason, say speaking engagements that I do, then it is kinda for people doing speaking engagements.  So, for you to come along and start using it for the conference of medical examiners for example, would a social media faux pas.

3.  Carefully think about Your Hashtag

Whatever you do, write it out.  Read it.  Say it out loud.  Get another set of eyes.  The last thing you want is to have a hashtag that is inappropriate or embarrassing.  You might not even see it.  After all it sounded right at the time.  However, testing it this way will help your potentially avoid looking silly.

4.  Don’t go Overboard Using Hashtags

One hashtag is great.  Two is fine.  Three is just about the limit.  Any more than three and you have likely gone overboard.

5. Overly Long Hashtags

With Twitter in particular, we don’t have a lot of space.  We have had to learn the art of being brief and concise.  If you want people to use your hashtag, don’t make it overly long. Keep it simple:  #simple.

6.  Don’t forget Capital Letters

Something that is super helpful for readers is using capital letters in your hashtags.  You often see only lower case letters, but there is nothing stopping you from #ShakingItUp.

7.  Share It

So, you have created a hashtag for this super awesome topic or event, now what?  Share it.  Use it in your Tweets, on Facebook, LinkedIn and all other channels that you use.  If you are advertising an event, product, etc. in print or online, don’t forget to include the hashtag.  At a news conference or industry conference, get your emcee to share the hashtag with everyone.  

There you have it!  7 simple tips to use hashtags like a pro!  Have a few other favs that you would like to add?  Feel free to share.  It’s all about the sharing.

Looking for more information on Tweeting?  Check out How to Live Tweet like a Rockstar.

Like my post?  Feel free to follow the blog and me on Twitter:  @MacLeanHeather

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