I hate to break your little Facebook-trending hearts, but no, hashtags were not designed to show off how great you are at making backhanded, passive aggressive comments. Nor were they created so you could tell everyone that you’re #sorrynotsorry or that you have the #besthusbandever.
As silly as this sounds, hashtags are actually just an online marketing tool. They’re meant to be used to tag comments, pictures and posts so that they can be categorized by their subject matter. In doing so, a user can browse trending content by its hashtag to find out more about a company or stay up to date on the latest topics. The hashtag operates in two ways: one, so the consumer can learn more about a product, service or topic they’re interested in, and two, so that advertisers can make their content readily available by linking them with tags their user might browse.
For example, say you needed to buy new running shoes and want to see what’s in style before making a purchase. You can look up #runningshoes and tada!, a whole slew of posts and pictures of people’s kicks would show up on your feed. You can see what people are wearing, what companies are having sales and what brands appeal to you most.
This method is useful to companies as well. Nike, Adidas and other top brands in the industry can post advertisements with #runningshoes that will show up on your hashtag feed. They could also browse the tag feed themselves to learn more about what their consumers want and adjust their marketing campaigns accordingly.
Here are some tips on using hashtags to be sure that you (or your company) are getting the most out of this free branding tool.
1) See What’s Trending
There’s no harm in using hashtag for personal reasons, but it really only makes sense to use them how they’re intended. To be part of an ongoing conversation, see what other people are using to categorize their posts. A hashtag too obscure to categorize is a hashtag wasted.
2) Keep It Simple
You always have the option of creating your own personal hashtag. People sometimes do this for contests, weddings or vacations. Choose a simple hashtag and use it on every post relevant to the occasion. Share the hashtag if you want others to add their content. This is a great way for advertisers to track their consumers or for friends and families to have a collection of posts from a memorable event.
3) Less is More
Some people get hashtag happy. You know who you are! There’s no need to add more than a few to your post. Pick out some keywords or a theme and create the tags accordingly. Posts with too many hashtags annoy people and could cause you to lose your audience.
4) Change It Up
With the exception of a brand, don’t use the same hashtags in every post. Unique content goes hand in hand with unique hashtags. Plus, if you’re always using the same tags, you’re losing out on keywords that may work better for visibility. Keep things fresh for maximum viewership!
I know, I know. Boring, right? Because #hashtaggingissofunyoucantstop. What’s even more fun is discovering all the new content you can find online by simply using hashtags the way they were designed. So the next time you’re tempted to take that selfie and post it on your social media pages with an excessive amount of irrelevant hashtags, #dont.