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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, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormadecanada.com

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

How to be a Rockstar When Live Tweeting

Live Tweeting while at an event can be a great tactic for a brand and doing it like a rockstar not only fosters engagement, it can drive traffic back to your site and ultimately add to your sales funnel.  So, what are the best practices when it comes to live Tweeting?  Check out these 10 tips:

How to be a Rockstar When Live Tweeting. heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormadecanada.com

Image courtesy of canadarocks.ca

1.  Establish A Plan

This is particularly important if you are live Tweeting on behalf of a brand.  You need to ensure that you have all your ducks in a row, or at least be prepared for all scenarios.  For your plan to cover all of the bases, be sure to think about all of the following tips.

If you are Tweeting on your own, you still need to put some thought into how, what and when.  The following points will also help you to do this well.

2. Have Your Playbook Updated and Ready to Go

This mostly applies to brands, but an individual could have his or her own playbook.  In any event, make sure that you know what to do in the event of trolls, hashtag hijacking, etc.  Be sure you know your workflow, who needs to be involved in any escalation and more.  While 99% of the time you won’t need this level of detail, being over prepared for such events is always worth the effort.  It also serves as a refresher for those listening and engaging on behalf of the brand.

3. Be Sure to Listen as Well as Engaging

This might seem obvious and would hopefully be addressed in your playbook, but for brands in particular you want to ensure that you have enough resources to not only be live Tweeting, but also to be listening.  Have one person focused on responding on behalf of the brand and let the other focus on live Tweeting.

4. Use the Right Hashtag

For a brand, you want to establish your own hashtag.  However, you should think it through carefully. Make sure that you don’t select a hashtag that when combined is offensive, embarrassing, or already in use by someone else. (See image above…I am sure that Susan wasn’t thrilled with this hashtag.)  Also be prepared that you could have other people hijack your fantastic hashtag for their event at some point.  It can and does happen.  Also share, share and share your event hashtag.  Make it easy for people.

As an individual this can be equally important.  Believe me it can be quite lonely Tweeting if you are using the wrong hashtag.  Do some research first and/or ask the event organizers what their hashtag is if they don’t have it on their website or in their collateral.

5.  Give Your Audience A Heads Up

Your followers will always appreciate the heads up when you will be Tweeting more than normal.  This applies to both brand handles as well as personal handles.

If your brand is live Tweeting and you want your followers to participate, be sure to let them know what the proper hashtag is and when you will commence live Tweeting.

6. Schedule Tweets

While this works really well for a brand, it can be quite useful for an individual to schedule some Tweets in advance too.  There may be specific points or pieces of information that you want to get out there.  Prescheduling can be great for this.  This also works well if you are Tweeting in more than one language.

7.  Remember Your Goals

As a part of the overall plan, brands should have goals and objectives of what you want to achieve through live Tweeting.  Is it to inform your customers, increase your network, drive more traffic to your website.  Make sure it is clear and understood by all parties.

As an individual you should also have goals.  Don’t just Tweet for the sake of Tweeting.  Be thoughtful and add value.

8.  Don’t Forget Photos

People love photos!  So, be sure to include a good variety of quality photos in your live Tweets. You don’t need to do it for every Tweet, but maybe try a 50:50 mix of text:text & photo.  For quality photos look at composition, lighting and the number of people in the picture.  

9.  Maintain Your Voice

Remember what your brand voice is.  This is not so important for an individual, but do remember to avoid becoming a robot.  Have fun with your live Tweeting.  Others enjoy that and are more likely to share your Tweets.

10.  Ignore Trolls and Hackers

While this can be hard to do at times, giving them an audience is exactly what they want.

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