The 6 Rules of Hashtags

The Rules of Hashtags

The Rules of Hashtags

Let’s face it, hashtags are great. They can help you to get your message in front of people who have no connection with you, but are interested in the same subject area and are following that subject. They search the subject, your post appears. And they are used across all of the major social networks…brilliant!

But like any good thing, it doesn’t work all the time. There are some important unwritten rules which surround hashtags. It’s about time the rules were written down to allow everyone to make the most of this great feature.

Quality over quantity

There are social media accounts which use a lot of hashtags – too many! If you have ever tried to read one of these messages, you will know how difficult they are to understand. Not only that, but, to me at least, they look a little bit desperate. So, pick one hashtag that is the most relevant for the message as a whole and focus on that – too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

Be careful starting your own

Let’s remember what hashtags are all about. They are about connecting with people who are following a subject, but don’t have a link with you – it’s all about increasing your reach. So if you are starting your own hashtag, who is going to be following it as a subject? Unless you are very very influential (thanks for reading Kanye, but this doesn’t apply to you mate), you should use a hashtag which is already well established.

Make them relevant

If you follow hashtags, and you really should, you will normally find some interesting content and people, then you will be aware of hashtag spamming. This is where someone will post a message using a (normally trending) hashtag that has no connection whatsoever to their content. This is not only annoying, it is spamming and to be avoided at all costs!

Read them carefully….very carefully

If you are using a hashtag which is a couple of words squeezed into one, then you need to look at the hashtag very closely. The most innocent and well intentioned hashtags can have very embarrassing side affects – remember Susan Boyle’s new album launch? Maybe not, but you do probably remember #susanalbumparty – read it again….see what I mean? You can capitalise to make the hashtag more clear but if there is a hidden message, change the hashtag entirely!

Keep them snappy

Hashtags are often a source of humour, and that means that some of them can get pretty long. But hashtags that are too long are difficult to read, so if you are using it for your business, keep the length reasonable – and remember that you are hoping to engage someone new with it, and the longer your hashtag is, the less likely someone will be following it. You don’t want them losing their impact
#becauseyourhashtagisjusttoobloodylonglol

Think longer term

Although it depends on the number of followers that you have, the life span of a tweet is only minutes – a maximum of 15 but it could be even shorter than that. So if you are doing some research into hashtags then you want your work to last a bit longer than that right? Make the hashtag a longer term part of your marketing plan – use it on other marketing tools like your website and printed media.

Do you use hashtags and had success with them? Or is there a hashtag rule that your live by that isn’t on this list? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Facebook Hash-tags

facebook-hashtags

facebook-hashtags

Two weeks ago, Facebook announced that it was going to introduce hash-tags into its service.  This feels like an inevitable addition – Twitter and Google+ have had them for some time.

But how will hash-tags be different on Facebook, and what are the implications for marketers and Facebook users?

Will it be different?

One of the reasons behind the success of the hash-tag on Twitter is that you can use them to see new connections and new content.  However, Facebook is a very different network.  The vast majority of Twitter users have a public account, whereas the opposite is true of Facebook – most people are keen to keep their posts private.

This causes a problem.  If you search for a hash-tag, you will see company pages (which are public) and messages from people who you are connected to, or whose privacy settings allow their messages to be viewed publicly.  So, you won’t get a near-whole-world view of a subject like you do with Twitter.

Implications for User

As mentioned above, due to privacy restrictions, if you search for a topic, you will only see a limited number of results.  And I think that search results are going to be dominated by company pages, as their access is public.  This means that from a user’s perspective, the results might be a little salesy or corporate – not good, and certainly not like Twitter.  And if this happens, then users will stop using hash-tags entirely.

Implications for Marketing

For marketers, hash-tags seem like a great idea.  They work great on other networks and allow marketers to track conversations.  But I think that the structure of Facebook means that you will only see some of the conversation, not all of it…which will actually not help marketers.

I guess that Facebook is hoping that users will see the benefits of hash-tags and start to relax their account privacy settings, but I think the opposite will happen – if someone sees their posts appear in a search, they may be encouraged to tighten up their privacy settings.  For this reason, I fear that user adoption will be low in the medium term, which may mean that the idea never gets off the ground.

My view:

I can’t see how hash-tags add anything to the user experience that the Facebook search function doesn’t already do.  And I think that hash-tags don’t suit the fundamentals of Facebook from a privacy perspective.  Also, I worry that search results which contain lots of brand pages (not individuals) is a real threat to whether this even gets off the ground.  I fear that Facebook hash-tags might be a #fail.