We’ve recently been exhibiting at The Business Show, and what a time we’ve had! Thanks to everyone who came down to see us, and to all who came to see Leader of The Pack, Charlotte’s seminar on horrible hashtags. A pet peeve of some social media users, hashtags are undoubtedly useful for businesses to identify trends, influencers and source key markets in their industry. But you have to be careful with your hashtags; lack of care can result in inaccurate, embarrassing or even controversial material, which can be damaging to your online persona. For those of you who couldn’t make it to Charlotte’s seminar, fear not, because we’ve decided to share these valuable lessons with you anyway.
Not proofreading hashtags
As with any content, you should always take the time to proofread what you produce with a fresh pair of eyes to avoid inaccuracies or spelling and grammar mistakes. A difficulty with hashtags is that they will almost always set off spelling and grammar checks due to their format, so they tend to get ignored while proofreading.
This is exactly what you’ll have to do once you post an un-proofed hashtag; apologise profusely and repeatedly as your social media slur works its way round the Twittersphere. Some hashtag mistakes may be received with humour, such as #susanalbumparty which entertained millions when it hit the news feeds, but others, such as #Therapistfinder, can inspire negative backlash and place companies in very uncomfortable positions. The best way to avoid this is to proof your hashtags thoroughly and try to compile a list of those most relevant to your industry or audience.
Not researching hashtags
Sometimes it’s easier to join trends rather than inventing your own, but researching hashtags properly can save a lot of face in the social media landscape. It is often a beginner’s error to jump straight on the bandwagon of trending topics to increase the exposure of your post, but you must make sure you understand the source of the hashtag before you associate yourself – and your business – with the meaning of that particular tag. Take this example from Celeb Boutique;
In fact, #Aurora was the trending hashtag associated with a mass shooting which occurred in a cinema in Aurora, Colorado. Something like this can be incredibly dangerous for companies. In the case of Celeb Boutique, the post remained on the company’s page for one hour, during which time Facebook users began calling for a boycott of their business in response. For the sake of an extra two minutes to check the source of the hashtag, the whole situation could have been avoided. It’s quite the lesson to learn.
Using too many hashtags
#Don’t #try #and #tell #me #this #is #easy #to #read! Yes, hashtags expand the reach of your content, but overusing them and hashtagging every word makes your content virtually unreadable, and social media users will skip straight past your posts for something a little easier on the eye. Posts like these may reach more users, but they will certainly not incur any valuable engagement or start any conversations. Rest assured, such tactics will not earn you the positive attention of key markets or the respect of the influencers you hope to reach. To be effective, hashtags must be well-researched, understood, and used sparingly – we say no more than two per post on Twitter. Remember with social media, quality always comes before quantity.
Using hashtags offline
There is a time and a place for the hashtag, and off the web is not one of them. Hashtags are purely a social media construct; they punctuate content with relevant topics, themes and individuals to add meaning and interest. They serve absolutely no purpose beyond the social media sphere, and to use them offline in print communications or – heaven forbid – everyday speech is practically a crime against language.
To employ social media-specific tactics outside of social networking space creates the impression that your company cannot communicate appropriately outside the digital realm. The point of engaging in both traditional and digital methods is to take a multi-faceted approach to communications, and communicating in this way hampers that endeavour.
And finally …
Please don’t call your baby Hashtag. Just don’t do it.
Did you find our hashtag hints helpful? Keep an eye out for the next instalment of our social media sins series!
How the right hashtags can increase your likes on Instagram. http://harveyandhugo.com/how-the-right-hashtags-can-increase-your-likes-on-instagram/
Is your LinkedIn etiquette up to scratch? http://harveyandhugo.com/is-your-linkedin-etiquette-up-to-scratch/