How to Use Hashtags in Your Social Media Content.
The impact of the Hash tag on modern culture and human language is so large that the American Dialect Society declared “hashtag” as Word of the Year in 2012.
Do you think you could explain hashtags to someone who has never used them? it isn’t as easy as you might think. So welcome to our brief history of the hashtag, and how to best use it to your benefit.
A little # history
In 2007 Twitter was a stream of disconnected 140-character comments. It was possible to search Twitter for keywords; however many tweets contain the same keyword, not every tweet was about that keyword.
In 2009 after a lot of trial and error Twitter updated its system to make hashtags clickable. It was then possible to have a returning a search for all tweets containing the term. What started as an informal hack among users became an integral and iconic part of the platform.
Since then the hashtag has evolved into far more than system of categorization.
The hashtag and language
When someone tags a tweet as #Mondaymotivation, is he making it easy for you to find all the pseudo motivational posters floating around the web, Or is he using the hashtag as a self-referential comment on something he is doing?
Ending a tweet with #boss is far more about adding a shorthand punch to the air than it is about grouping tweets into a single conversation.
People will often create new hashtags every day that make no sense beyond that one tweet. People are using hashtags to add extra layers of meaning to their messages.
A hashtag can convey irony and sarcasm or can suggest emotion or mood, or even contradict the actual tweet. The intended effect can be humorous and provocative or informative and mysterious. Or all of the above.
Now let’s just think about that for a moment. A new form of grammar has entered human language, the use of which enhances or transforms the meaning of a sentence. And its relevant to every language on earth. You can hashtag in Russian, Japanese or Korean.
It’s no wonder some people are often confused by the various nuances of this linguistic marvel. If your marketing involves social media content must be fluent in the language.
Misinterpreting a message or using hashtags incorrectly can make your brand seem as out of place as your uncle’s inappropriate dancing at a wedding.
When hashtags go bad
Have you ever seen a domain name that just looks…..wrong?
A good example is Margaret Thatcher’s death in 2013 which provoked a huge amount of online debate. Mrs Thatcher was a highly controversial figure in British politics, so it wasn’t surprising for one of the most popular hashtags to become a trending topic.
The hash tag that was used was this #nowthatchersdead see anything wrong with it?
If you live in the United States and read that sequence of letters Margaret Thatcher may not be the first thing you think of. You certainly wouldn’t be alone if you thought it actually read “Now That Cher’s Dead.”
There was much confusion for many fans and I’m sure a pretty weird day for the superstar singer. Taking time and choosing the correct hashtag is crucial if you don’t want to lose control of your message. A poorly worded tweet can be a PR disaster.
Someone in British singer Susan Boyle’s PR agency obviously thought a hashtag promoting her new album launch would be a good idea which is how we got #SusanAlbumParty.
Sus Anal Bum Party
Be sure to run your hashtag ideas past fresh eyes to spot these traps.
Marketers and hashtags
Hashtags present an amazing opportunity for marketers to identify social media relevant trends and conversations to their business and get their content in front of the right people.
Make sure you always check the hashtag first to see how much activity it receives, the sorts of content shared, and how well such content is received.
Not every conversation is welcoming to marketers. Can you tell if brand content shared or ignored? or criticised
Like everything in life, moderation is key. Resist the temptation to intrude too heavily on any single hashtag or conversation.
It’s poor form to spam hashtag followers with offers or self-serving. Posting to a single group too often or repetitively can turn a community against you, so it’s best to avoid using hashtags with bots and automated systems. Interaction still matters, so don’t post and run either.
Hashtags are also the marketing glue that holds cross-platform competitions and campaigns together. Hashtags make it easy for followers to submit content to be aggregated and displayed elsewhere.
Always remember that the hashtag belongs to the community, even if you created it yourself. You can’t censor or control how others will use it so be sensitive to situations that could fuel a hashtag backlash.
Used well hashtags can be immensely powerful marketing tools. Like any tool we should treat them with respect, care, and plenty of consideration. The power of the hashtag should never be underestimated. The least used character on the keyboard is rapidly becoming one of the mightiest punctuation marks in history.