12 Cardinal Rules of Choosing & Using Hashtag
- BE SENSITIVE:
Perhaps the greatest crime of Kenneth Cole’s post was the insensitivity per ignorance displayed. Same with the campaign team for President Goodluck Jonathan who came up with the hashtag: #bringbackjonathan. They were trying to key into the world wide campaign #bringbackourgirls.
People, worldwide, found this deeply offensive and saw it as an act that was putting “pepper “ on the already hurt feelings of people. It was written about widely and the giant sign erected had to be brought down.
The lesson? be sensitive.
- COME TO TERMS WITH THE EXTENT OF CONTROL YOU HAVE:
Like any social media campaign, one of the biggest risks of a hashtag campaign is that you do not have total control over it once it’s out. No matter how good your intentions are and how well you execute the campaign, hashtags can get hijacked in unexpected ways.
- CHOOSE A UNIQUE HASHTAG:
Except your goal is to piggyback on a trending hashtag, always choose a unique hashtag.
Do not choose a hashtag that is so generic that others have started using it.
Choosing a generic hashtag means your conversation gets easily swallowed up in an already on-going conversation.
Choosing a widely used/ generic hashtag like #music or #love will most likely just get your efforts and messages lost in the noise.
- KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE:
Chances of a hashtag like #thebiggesteventthateverheldinlagos catching on is very slim.
Always go for the quickest and catchiest.
It should be short so that people can remember it, simple so people do not misspell it. When the extension is exceeding 5 words, it’s losing its sting.
- MAKE IT CONSISTENT:
Choose one and stick to it. For example if you want to begin a conversation around an event at your hypothetical bar called ‘Morris Bar’.
Using different variations of the same phrase such as #partyatmorrisbar #morrisbarparty #barpartyatmorris, reduces the impact of your communication.
Not being consistent makes your conversation fragmented.
This in turn makes it difficult for you and your fellow ‘hash taggers’ to keep up with the conversation.
Always do a research on your chosen hashtag. Doing this helps you find out if it is already in use in an entirely different context. It also helps you discover if it means something else entirely.
An example is #RIMjobs. Blackberry used to be under the mother company-Research In Motion. RIM wanted to gain traction for their jobs and decided to promote it using the hashtag #RIMJobs.
Makes sense except for one thing- the other meaning of RIMJobs especially in the environment it was used.
Feel free to make use of Google for its meaning. You can imagine the kind of reaction the company got from this.
Research is important.
- BE CLEVER:
Hashtags that are witty and shrewd have a better chance of catching on than straight-forward, regular and therefore boring ones.
Be clear with hashtag tactics, but also be sure to make the effort clever.
- STAY TRUE TO YOUR BRAND:
A telecommunications network notorious for its poor network will be setting itself up if it starts a #GreatNetworkTimes hashtag.
- CROSS PLATFORM :
Social media may the birthplace of the hashtag, but due to its wide usage, the hashtag has infiltrated every other touch point from print, to radio and television.
Use your hashtag across all your platforms. Include it on your brand’s Facebook and Twitter cover page.
Create a print campaign around your hashtag, encourage your Instagram audience to post their photos with the given hashtag.
This makes for the continuity of experience. It also makes for easy integration on all channels.
10. ANTICIPATE PEOPLE’S RESPONSE:
You can do a quick testing on your hashtag to predict people’s reaction to your hashtag. Call it your hashtag A/B Testing.
A good example of people who perhaps neither tested nor anticipated possible interpretations and connotations was the team assigned to promote Susan Boyle’s album launch party. They created a hashtag. #susasnalbumparty. People read it differently and it picked up steam- for the wrong reasons. Take a look #susasnalbumparty – How it was posted #SusanAlbumParty – How it should have read #SusAnalBumParty – How it was read
Think before unleashing your creation into the social stratosphere.
11. MONITOR THE CAMPAIGN RELIGIOUSLY:
Monitor social channels vigilantly when running a hashtag campaign to enable quick response to unforeseen issues.
12. PUT SPELLING & CHOICE INTO CONSIDERATION:
People often use different spellings or words to refer to the same topic. Choose one that they are more likely to adapt to. #colouroflove & #colorofflove are two different hashtags.
This is an excerpt for the E-book The Complete Guide to Hashtag Marketing. Download the Complete E-book here for Free.