Hashtags 2.0: Beyond the Basics

4 Tips on Keeping Your Hashtags Fresh

It may seem that hashtags have been around forever, but did you know that they originated on Twitter in early 2007—more than a decade ago now! Still, it’s hard to imagine a world without them and the role they play in marketing. For your brand, the hashtags you’re using or not using could be the difference between building a social media empire and sending posts straight into the void. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive overview of hashtags here. 

Why We Use Hashtags

Originally used as a form of punctuation and referred to as the pound symbol or number sign, the hash symbol (#) transformed into a metadata tag used to organize posts based on their theme or content. If someone is interested in football, they can use #ChicagoBears to see posts about their favorite team. When utilized correctly, hashtags bring users to resources, related information and other people applying the same hashtag to their posts. For brands, this provides the opportunity to reach more prospects and create brand recognition. Using hashtags strategically can propel your social media presence sky high.

Not Just for #Twitter Anymore

Hashtags may have originated on the famous microblogging social network, but they have since flooded most other forms of social media. Nowadays, it’s key to use just a few specific hashtags, instead of large blocks, to create meaningful engagement. To do this, you should have a set strategy when it comes to which hashtags you use and what posts you use them on. Certain social media platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, allow users to follow specific hashtags and see every post made with that tag. This opens the door up for businesses to attract more attention by targeting relevant hashtags. For instance, a “foodie” from Chicago may track #chicagofood and discover new restaurants through the dishes they see featured on their feed.

What to #Avoid

As their use and popularity continue to grow, so does the list of things you definitely shouldn’t do when it comes to hashtags. Today, it’s as important to avoid posting with stale or, worse, banned hashtags as it is to use relevant ones. 

So what are banned hashtags? Aside from anything overtly sexual and offensive, the list also includes seriously overused or misused hashtags that you may not think twice about when tagging your posts. In some cases, the use of a banned hashtag will lead to account suspension or deletion. 

There’s another option that social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have been pursuing more and more recently: “shadowbanning.” This term explains why an account may see a sudden drop in interactions and visibility on their posts. If you notice that your posts are getting fewer likes, comments and views, you may have been shadowbanned for breaching policy. While Twitter lets you know when your account has been suspended through a shadowban, Instagram usually does not. Luckily, there are steps you can take to find out if your account is being shadowbanned and ways to get off of the blacklist. One key step you can take to prevent being shadowbanned is to make sure you’re being smart about hashtags and only using ones that are pertinent to your brand. 

#BrandedHashtags

An important step for any business is creating your own branded hashtag. Branded hashtags work as free promotion and, when utilized properly, provide your company with a cohesive and recognizable tool for clients and prospects to use. It’s important not to throw a hash sign in front of just anything when it comes to creating your own branded hashtag. Your branded hashtag should be special, just like your company, and represent you as a company. Take #MoveAgainstMigraine, a branded hashtag Yakkety Yak created for the American Migraine Foundation. Its catchy, memorable alliteration calls the reader to action, encouraging them to participate with the hashtag and therefore your company. 

Looking for help with your social media strategy? Reach out to us today. We can discuss your goals and outline a strategy to help you achieve them.

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