Hashtag Strategies for Dummies

Hashtags are a key component to a social media approach. However, done poorly, hashtags can make a brand come across as uncalculated and well, a dummie. Use this pound sign turned social the right way– avoid the errors that can destroy any strategy by following our list of do’s and dont’s for hashtagging.


  1. Don’t overuse hashtags. Using hashtags in excess is just wrong; not only does it look unattractive in feeds, but it can also look juvenile. Ideally, posts that include the symbol should be limited to one distinct hashtag, but adding one or two more usually isn’t too much.  Consider this statistic from Buffer: including 1 to 2 hashtags on Twitter will get 21% more engagement than tweeting 3 or more. Keep the hashtags to a #minimum!
  2. #Don’t #hashtag #sentences. Hashtagging sentences or phrases like #oh #well or #my#friends#are#better#than#yours is impractical for brands that are trying to reap the benefits of online marketing. Although you may get a few chuckles with the ironic tagging, hashtags are meant to aggregate content and ideas, through events and topics.   Oreo’s Twitter account uses the pound sign to weigh in on trending topics and to promote their chocolaty product.For the 2014 World Cup, Oreo has used popular hashtags like #USAvsGER to spread their tasty message with soccer fans.


  3. Don’t hashtag without a purpose. Hashtagging for the sake of hashtagging is as effective blow-drying your hair, only to go out in a thunderstorm. Hashtag only after researching and brainstorming what you think your target audience will respond to.


  1. Use hashtags to get specific. Tag hashing shouldn’t be vague, dry, and saturated like #happy, #love, or even worse, #depressed. This pound sign is the way to build a community around communal interest such as #OnlineMarketing or #SocialMediaStat. Be aware when choosing a hashtag: don’t go too broad, or you run the risk of being unseen among thousands and thousands of constantly updated posts with a few ##s.
  2. Hashtag events. Event, meet the hashtag. Hashtag, meet this fabulous event. A specific occasion is the ideal time to implement the symbol. At an event as big as the 2015 Super Bowl (Go Niners!) to a smaller event like a VIP SXSW party, attendees will be snapping photos, sharing tweets, and updating their followers with the going-ons of whatever function they are attending. Spotify’s 2014 SXSW party was dubbed Spotify House, and easily translated to the hashtag #SpotifyHouse, which was flaunted throughout the venue. The tag was used on social media, particularly Twitter and Instagram, where users shared updates about performances and of course, tons of shots of the event.Use a creative and simple hashtag that clearly represents the event and can easily be used to efficiently curate content once all is said and done. Future blog posts, #ThrowbackThursday posts, and photo albums are just a few.
  3. Keep hashtags short. Instagrammers are scrolling, scrolling, and scrolling through their News Feed. Odds are, they won’t remember the hashtag #NYFWeek2015SponsoredBySmartWater. Find the quickest, catchiest way to deliver a message and run with it (figuratively speaking of course). The extension should  be no more than 5 words at max.
  4. Be clever. Strategies that are shrewd and cunning have a much better chance of catching on than strategies that are too straightforward and therefore, boring.Consider Charmin’s #TweetFromTheSeat campaign, a clever way for the toilet paper brand to interact with their user base. Be obvious with hashtag tactics, but also be sure to make the effort clever.
    The Poo Shoot. #RejectedThemeParkRides #tweetfromtheseat— Charmin (@Charmin) June 20, 2014


  5. Use hashtags offline. Hashtags may have been born on social media, but due to their growth spurt, they have infiltrated everything from print, to reality TV.  Now, you may not be able to broadcast your hashtag during an Orange is the New Black episode, but you can ingrain it with your brand’s other marketing strategies. Include it on the company Facebook and Twitter cover page, or create a print campaign around the pound sign, encouraging your Instagram audience to post their photos with the given hashtag.  Cover Girl has effectively put this idea straight to the printers. Their newest print campaign, featuring Katy Perry, urges Cover Girls to post their own #instaGLAM photo.
  6. Leave out the brand name. Notice in the example above how Cover Girl is not mentioned in the hashtag? Don’t be afraid to leave out the brand name, and go with a tag that talks about a feature, idea or emotion that the brand represents.
  7. Research hashtag trends. Researching and exploring what well-liked hashtags spectators are already using can be as simple as utilizing a tool like Tagboard. The platform gathers statistics of searched hashtags from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and more. #MondayMotivation not trending? Maybe you should stick with #WednesdayInspiration instead.
  8. Hashtag jack. It’s not always necessary to come up with the next brilliant hashtag. Sometimes hashtag jacking is enough to get social media users buzzing. By doing this with a trending hashtag or even a competitor tag, brands can gain exposure to a new group of followers and potential customers.


    Ben and Jerry’s did this very smoothly during Shark Week, hijacking the popular #sharkweek tag with this gem. The ice cream moguls not only jumped on the #sharkweek hashtag bandwagon (errr, idea cream truck?), but they also made it relevant to their iconic packaging.

  9. Interact. The most important part of a hashtag strategy is the interaction from brand to audience. Interact with the messages in real-time and let followers know that you’re paying attention to their thoughts and contributions to the tag. Use a tool like HootSuite to track hashtags and manage responses.

Hashtagging is a fun way to collect and share ideas on social media. However, a bad hashtag strategy can make a brand’s online presence seem silly. Stick to our hashtag dos, avoid the don’ts, and start enjoying the possibilities allowed by hashtags!


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