Twitter is one of the most effective means for conveying information to your customer base, as well as interacting with your customers on a one-on-one basis. Yet even still, after having launched in 2006, many companies (and the people behind their accounts) have trouble understanding how to correctly use hashtags (a word or series of words with a pound sign in front of it, usually indicating a topic) in a way that can help their company effectively reach a larger audience and not disrupt their brand image. Using these rules, you can help mold your use of hashtags in a way that helps your brand, overall.
1. Don't Overuse Hashtags
Take a look at any tweet before you send it. Are more than 50 percent of the words in the tweet hashtags? If so, then try again. Hashtags are great to increase your reach, but if you crowd a tweet with them it decreases the readability of your posts. It gets in the way of communication, which is the primary use of Twitter.
2. Be Careful About Jumping on Trending Topics
When first getting started on Twitter, it might seem fun to engage in a little conversation with some of the trending topic hashtags, but this approach can be a minefield for companies trying to build a strong brand image. When presenting your brand via social media, be genuine. Forcing yourself into a conversation surrounding a hashtag that has nothing to do with your brand is a bad idea. And given some trending topics, it can make things awkward for your customers.
3. Do Hashtag Your Topic
Stick to this general rule: Use two or three hashtags in a tweet, maximum. A hashtag is designed to identify the topic you are talking about. By including more hashtags, it makes it difficult to distinguish what you are actually discussing. On Twitter, you only have 140 characters. You clearly are not talking about five different topics.
4. Don't Wait to Hashtag at the End
Many think that hashtags have to exist at the end of a tweet, but this is not the case. If hashtagging a specific word, do it where it exists in the conversation. One or two in the middle of a sentence will be just fine and can make your tweet look more natural.
5. Be Careful About Tragic Events
Twitter has proven to be great for spreading information quickly, especially in the wake of recent tragedies. That said, many brands jump on the hashtags of tragedies to send messages, even when it may make no sense for them to do so. While showing your support during a tragedy is fine, be careful not to use it as a marketing opportunity. Reach out to your customers who may be impacted, if appropriate, but do not feel obligated to use the hashtag in your message.
Hashtags in Twitter are a great tool, but don't abuse them. Learn to use them in a manner that works best for your brand. Continue being genuine, and your social media plan will continue to thrive.