A hashtag is a terrible thing to waste


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Twitter came on the scene in 2006, but the art of hashtagging didn’t make its worldwide debut until 2009. Consumers were instantly #hooked, and public relations specialists and marketers now consider hashtags with every post they write for clients.

While hashtagging is quite a genius mechanism for getting users from all over the world to find your content, it also can become quite annoying when your comment, tweet, or Facebook post is entirely made up of hashtags. And when the hashtag isn’t relevant to the content of the post, it’s even more irritating.

I was recently looking on Instagram for pictures of a specific dog breed, #AustralianShepherd. I expected my search to yield photos of cute, furry little canines. Instead, I found myself staring at multiple selfies. I was puzzled and my only thought was, ‘This is not what I wanted.’

We must learn how to better utilize the beloved #hashtag. So without further ado, here are some tips to better employ the strategic hashtag.

Take advantage of Twitter trends

It is easy to search Twitter to see what hashtags are trending. Glance at the left side of your twitter feed, and you’ll see a section entitled “Trends.” This area will instantly inform you on the most popular conversations taking place on the social network.

An effective way to increase engagement on Twitter is to join conversations while they are relevant. Posting while conversations are active increases your chances of being replied to, retweeted, or favorited.

But, don’t just take my word for it. To quote the experts at Twitter, trends “identify topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help you discover the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter that matter most to you.”

Always post relevant hashtags

This leads me back to my #AustralianShephard/selfie dilemma. No matter the network — Twitter, Instagram, Google+ — they all employ hashtags that are directly related to the subject of your content.

Got a great picture of your Pomeranian? Some applicable hashtags on Instagram are, #dog, #doggy, #puppy #Pomeranian, #cute #dogstagram, #pomeraniansofinstagram, etc.

Sometimes users will add random hashtags like #follow4follow, #like4like, or #followback to their posts. But, what are you really gaining when adding these hashtags to a post? The answer is simple – just another like. No new customers, no new colleagues, no new income – just a rather meaningless ‘like.’

Too many #hashtags

This subject is frequently debated. While posting many pertinent hashtags makes your content known and searchable, you could run the risk of annoying your followers as you are taking up a lot of space on their feeds.

On a network like Instagram, it might be less irritating to your followers to include many hashtags as they can just scroll down. While on Twitter, many hashtags in a tweet cannot be read as easily.

While these tips are helpful in most cases, social media isn’t an exact science. There can be exceptions to the rules, and it just depends on your audience. Keep these tips in mind, but don’t be afraid to try a few techniques to find what works for you and/or your business.

By Sarah Oyarce, @sarahhhroof

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