Getting Over #Hashtag Intimidation

Working hard in the Crystal Media “laboratories” (aka, at our desks), we’ve discovered a new and dangerous condition. It’s called “#Hashtag Intimidation,” and it affects thousands of retailers each year. Symptoms include sweaty palms before sending a tweet and avoidance of hashtag usage on Instagram. Luckily, there is a cure.

This article!

Are you filled with fear and frustration every time your finger gets close to the pound symbol on your keyboard? You may be suffering from Hashtag Intimidation! For anyone who may not have grown up with social media, hashtags can be one of the most confusing parts about using these sites to market your business. And you’re not alone. Dozens of retailers approach us each year to let us know that they just don’t get hashtags, and they are too nervous to use more than one.

We thought we would take this opportunity to answer a bunch of hashtag questions at once!

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a keyword or phrase that follows a # symbol on social media. By hashtagging a word, you make it easier for other users to find your message when they search for it. Hashtags have no spaces, even if you are using a phrase.

As a consumer, you may want to look up “good coffee shops in San Diego.” Your search would yield results like:

“Coffee, Coffee, Coffee is the BEST #coffeeshop in #SanDiego!”

As a business owner, say a toy store in Portland, you might tweet, “We’ve got the best supply of #toys in #Portland! #melissaanddoug.”

By adding these hashtags, you increase the chance of people searching for toys, Portland, or Melissa and Doug, finding you and your store!

What problem do hashtags help to solve?

When anyone searches ANYTHING, their problem is a lack of information. They need to know something and they need to know it now. Hashtags make finding that information easier, which benefits users AND the companies trying to be found.

Can you use too many hashtags?

Yes, you can use too many hashtags, but only if you’re adding hashtags that aren’t applicable to your message. On Instagram, it’s common for users to use upwards of 10 hashtags to attract people to their post.

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However, if you use too many hashtags, you may turn users away and lead them to believe that you are a spam account.

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Remember that on Twitter, the most common place to use hashtags, you are limited to 140 characters. Make them count, including hashtags!

What is the benefit of using multiple hashtags?

Multiple hashtags allow you to reach more people. By including a location hashtag and a brand hashtag, you’ll increase the chances that users searching for that brand OR location will find you, as well as increase the chances that people searching for that brand AND location (your target audience) will find you.

How can I use hashtags in conjunction with events?

When you use a hashtag, your post is pulled into search results with other posts including that hashtag. For instance, if you’re driving your new Ford and tweet using the hashtag #Ford, your tweet will show up in results with other users talking about Ford.

This means that if you are having an event, you can create a unique hashtag for it (typically a shortened version of the event name) and encourage customers to use it to promote the event and give you access to all of the posts about it!

How do you use hashtags differently on different sites?

As we mentioned, Twitter is where hashtags are used most often. Next would be Instagram, where many users will use hashtags in the caption of their photos. Many other social sites utilize hashtags, like Vine and Pinterest. Hashtags can be used on Facebook as well, but it is less common. Typically, users who use hashtags on Facebook do it for extra effect, such as:

“Wrapping up our summer clearance this week! #WeLoveFall.”

Still have questions about hashtags? Leave them in the comments and we MAY just do a follow-up post using them!