The Hype over #Hashtags

hashtagOK, so I’ll admit it.  I’m NOT the most tech savvy person on the planet and sometimes even wear that fact as a badge of honor!  But being in the business I am, heck being in any business, and yes, even the business of show requires that a person has some basic working knowledge of current social media trends.

I just started to check out this HASHTAG phenomenon that seems to have crept up in the last year and thought I’d pass on some of what I came up with during my research.

Originally the ‘pound symbols’ that were used to catalog content on Twitter, these puppies are popping up on all of the social platforms today – Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and most recently Facebook. You have to pay attention or be left in the dust.

The purpose? They’re an effective way to discover and organize specific content, and an easy way for social media users to find posts that are relevant to them. For example, I started to use the # before my networking parties and put it together with the acronym for my company as in “The #AOTB Industry Networking Mixer”.  I put it on all of my social media sites and even in emails.  Why? So that other people out there can find out about all things “Act Outside the Box” by searching for that #AOTB.  Of course you have to know about it and see it before its use is effective.

We also know they’re easily abused and can be pretty meaningless, too.  Have you seen strings of fairly nonsensical phrases with the # in front of them that no one would ever search for?  #whythehellwouldyoudothat?  I mean, really, who is searching for that? How do you rise above the noise online and help your audience or target market find and engage with your show, latest update or other event?

Here are our four tips:

KISS (Keep it Sweet and Simple): Is your show called The Greatest Story Ever Told? Then make your hashtag #greateststory or something equally simple. Make it easier on your viewers and use a hashtag that’s similar to the name of your event.  A bad example 2hashtagwould be #Mikesshow.  If it’s super long, sometimes an acronym is best.  #AOTB or #actoutsidethebox?  Either one could work but it’s up to you to choose (brand).

Don’t Go Overboard: Quality, not quantity, folks! Limit yourself to using one or two hashtags when promoting your stuff. If you tag tons of terms, you might come off as a bit spammy or overwhelming and it’s easier for your message to get lost in the #ebb #and #flow #of #a #sea #of #hashtags.

Do Your Research: Think you’ve found the perfect hashtag for your next event, show or idea? Type it into Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc. and see if anyone else is using it. If you’re using the same hashtag as another person or group, it could confuse your intended audience.  If it’s already there and associated with something entirely different, rethink your strategy.

Be Smart: Consider the platform you’re using. Is it Twitter? Then you have limited real estate. Be mindful of the number of characters in your hashtag. Keeping your hashtag under 10 characters leaves plenty of room for the rest of your thoughts.

In the end, this girl will always prefer s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g things out.  I don’t even like to use LOL and instead Laughing Out Loud…but I’m old school.  However in business I often subvert my preferences for what works.  And just like reality television, these hashtags aren’t going away. (Just for the sake of transparency, I was really wrong on that one when I thought Reality was just a passing fancy all those years ago.  Maybe it was just wishful thinking!)

Getting in the groove and using hashtags effectively will improve the chances of you clearing through the clutter.  And there’s ton of clutter (some like to call it content) out there!  To your #success, Lisa Gold

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