Social media masterclass #hashtags

Hashtags have become a popular tool for digital marketers and can be helpful to promote your small business on social media. Done correctly, they can be very powerful in promoting events, marketing products and services, or simply building engagement and brand awareness. At the same time, it’s also easy to misuse them and alienate potential clients and customers.

Here’s a quick look at mistakes people commonly make when using them.

# Failing to do background research

Before you even come up with a hashtag you need to do some groundwork. There have been plenty of embarrassing instances where a business has used a hashtag only to discover it is already in use and for a completely unrelated topic. Joining in on the wrong hashtag not only muddies your brand identity, it can also come across as insensitive and land you in some significant PR trouble. If you see an existing hashtag in use on Twitter, click on that hashtag’s feed to ensure you understand the context in which it is being used. If you want to create a new and catchy hashtag you can use tools like and to generate new, unique ideas for creating buzz.


# Unsuitable tags

Hashtags are another type of keywords that digital marketers often use for search engine optimisation or carrying a message across multiple platforms. Like regular keywords, you need to come up with ones that are meaningful. Your best guide is simply to take notice of how others have used hashtags successfully and learn from their examples.

Hashtags do not ever contain spaces in them. If your audience is cross-cultural try to avoid slang terms. Slang may be meaningless to some of your audience, or even have an offensive meaning in a different culture.

You can use your brand name as a hashtag. However, you are probably better to use a variation that is not your exact brand name since it is more likely to spark engagement.

# Not following platform guidelines

Different platforms have different guidelines for how many hashtags are too many, so you’ll need to do some research about your target platform. For example, recent analysis suggests that hashtags do not increase engagement at all on Facebook, but if you do include them just one is best. For Twitter, a tweet with one to three hashtags is best. While on Instagram, the most successful users of that platforms often have up to nine relevant hashtags per post.


Learn the rules of each platform so you don’t over do it! Failure to adhere to best-practice guidelines, at best, will make your company appear desperate; at worst it will be considered spamming and may result in you being reported and having your account suspended. We think the less-is-more approach is better; employ them wisely as part of a minimal approach to gain maximum effect.

# Failing to promote it

If the purpose of your hashtag is to market your product or service for your small business then you’ll need to do more than just include them in your digital posts. You’ll need to promote them too! You can include them in your profile information for each platform, and the header or footer information on your webpages. Don’t forget to market them offline as well. They can even be used to great effect with traditional forms of marketing, such as printed material like pamphlets, business cards and in-store posters.


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