• 5 Topics to Consider When Choosing a Hashtag

    When launching a campaign or a new product, hosting an event or trying to spread a message / start a conversation across social media, hashtags can help. A hashtag is a simple keyword or phrase, spelled without any spaces, with a pound sign (#) in front. For example, #NHLBlackhawks and #SEO are both hashtags.

    Hashtags connect conversations and place them into one stream. Social networkers on Twitter and LinkedIn use hashtags to search for relevant subject matter. Hashtags bring people together and facilitate conversations.

    When choosing a hashtag the key is to keep it simple, unique, easy to remember and narrowly focused. Here are five topics to consider during the selection process:

    1: Conduct research to see if the hashtag is being used, or has recent history

    If the hashtag is in use, move in a different direction. Do not compromise the integrity of the message with a hashtag that may create confusion within the social conversation. If it is essential to use a term with hashtag history, tools Hashtracking and Hashtag Dictionary can provide details on its use.

    2: Does the hashtag grab attention? Tell a story? Relate to the brand/product or initiative?

    Keep both the social goal and overall marketing goals in mind as the hashtag should be a reflection of those initiatives. It helps when a hashtag grabs attention and is easy to remember. There are two ways to accomplish this:

    Abbreviations - This is popular tactic for conferences, events and promotions. For example this past year's "Healthcare Internet Conference" used the hashtag #HCIC12

    Action Words - Adding terms like now, go, win, and stop can amplify attention and create a positive disruption. Examples include: #travelnow and #wintickets

    3: Who is following the hashtag and participating in the conversation?

    It is essential to keep the target markets in mind. If the target is a niche group such as conference attendees, the hashtag should be both easily identifiable to the target group, and specific enough to limit confusion among other users. If the target has limited restrictions it would make sense to use a more general keyword for the hashtag. Another thing to consider is if the hashtag has the potential to offend. Even if it has not been used, it could be "owned" or already a common phrase familiar to others & being used in another context. If the hashtag is unintentionally offensive, it's unlikely to generate success.

    4: Nothing kills the conversation quicker than running out of space, or misspelling a hashtag

    Twitter already limits the number of characters to 140. Replying and re-tweeting messages eat up additional characters so try to keep the hashtag count to 10 characters or less. Choose words that are easy to spell, and avoid those that have more than one spelling (gray & grey).

    5: Expanding the use of the Hashtag

    While the use of hashtags may have started on Twitter, other networks like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest now also use them. Hashtags allow marketers to organize content, making it easier for users to find what they are looking for. Integrating hashtags across multiple social channels has two benefits:

    Expansion Increases Impressions: A larger audience is being exposed to the hashtag if it appears on multiple networks. This can be amplified as users share information to their networks.

    Expansion Increases Frequency: Users of multiple social networks will see the hashtag more often, in different places, and will more quickly associate it to a specific brand.

    Author: Kyle Hocking
    Author Notes: Need more help with your social media plan? Facebook apps? Social Strategy? Visit us at http://www.marcelmedia.com
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