Using HASHTAG Part 1

Matcha Design - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

You’ve seen them everywhere from Twitter posts to late night spoofs with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake - the hashtag.  You may be asking yourself, what exactly is a hashtag, what does it do exactly, and how can it help strengthen my marketing efforts?

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hash·tag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it

When a user adds a hashtag to their post, it is immediately indexed by that social network and becomes searchable by others. Once someone clicks on that hashtag, they’ll be brought to a page that aggregates all of the posts with the same hashtagged keyword in real-time. Once a keyword picks up enough momentum it becomes known as “trending.”  

So now that you understand the basics of a hashtag, you’re probably wondering how to use it appropriately.  Here are some helpful tips on selecting an appropriate hashtag to use as a part of  your marketing efforts.  

Be Unique - Typically, hashtags are used to increase brand awareness with a unique tag, or to drive a specific event, product, or idea. The more unique a hashtag is, the easier it is to take in with minimal exposure, therefore, easier to spread.  Don’t pick a hashtag that is too vague or common –  it won’t stand out. Be creative!

Use Good Timing - There is such a thing as inappropriate timing, so be sure you understand the conditions of the social media sphere as you prepare to launch your hashtag. If your online presence is small, give your hashtag time to grow before your product release or event.  

Be Clear - Your hashtags are only as powerful as they are functional. An ambiguous or vague concept is unlikely to gain any traction simply because the community won’t know what to do with it. People prefer things that make sense and are easily usable Make the purpose of the tag clear, so you’re not the only one using your new hashtag.  

Think Through ALL Possible Meanings - Cautionary tales abound from poorly designed hashtag campaigns.  Beware of hidden words that appear when spaces are removed from hashtagged phrases. 

Less is More - Once you begin to see results, it can be tempting to go overboard with hashtags. While social media is infamous for moving on quickly, this is only true to a point. No one should hold a new hashtag campaign every week. It’s ok to use them with every post, but give people a opportunity to take in one idea at a time. Keeping hashtags simple will make them more useable and memorable.  Create your hashtags to be enduring and they will become a powerful addition to your arsenal of effective marketing tools.  

So what are the benefits to using hashtags?  Hashtags can be extremely powerful when you understand how to make them work for you.  But you have to do some of the grunt work beforehand.  Do the research, figure out what customers are saying, what your competitors are doing, or how the media is treating similar products or services.  Hashtags are extremely helpful in identifying the frequency and reach of topics, discussions, and tapping into audience sentiment, and therefore, hashtags are a great way to get people talking, and allowing them to jump into the discussion.  In recent years, we’ve seen the added bonus of hashtags helping to distribute breaking news and relay emergency information related to natural disasters. Hashtags have been used to consolidate communication around situations where other mediums of communication such as television, radio and print are not accessible or effective in reaching audiences.

The bottom line: Do your homework, use hashtags responsibly and in moderation. In today’s social media climate, hashtagging has become a necessary practice, so you’re going to want to do it right. When not used properly they can do more harm than good but when used properly, politely and productively, hashtags can enhance and expand your social presence and experience.

About Matcha Design
Matcha Design is a full-service creative agency specializing in web designprintidentitybrandinginterface designvideo productionstill photography and motion design. Using our passion for excellence, multi-cultural background, and award winning practices, we consistently provide high-quality, custom, innovative solutions to meet the diverse marketing needs of our clients. For more information, visit www.MatchaDesign.com.