Social $ense: Getting hashtags right

As we get more invested in social media and different ways to make it work for your business, we have to touch on the tools that are there to help. One such tool is the hashtag. If you’re on social media, you know the hashtag. Older folks know it as a pound sign (#). Social media has turned it into a form of SEO (search engine optimisation) where you can enter a hashtag to search for specific content or add it to your content so that it is searchable.

Nevertheless, some have not figured out exactly how to properly use hashtags and – more than anything else – it’s doing a disservice to their profile and content. There are four common mistakes made with hashtags:

1. Not relevant to the content: Very often I see where a hashtag with no strategy or relevance is added to postings. For example, it’s an image of your baked product and you hashtag it #This is #the best #cake in #town. Your content will not be helped. It is best to get a hashtag tool such as Later to help generate hashtags.

2. Banned: Content – and the hashtags that promote it – may be banned on social media. You are not to blame if you do not know enough about hashtags. Again, the hashtag tool Later can be useful in this situation. Banned hashtags aren’t always obvious, so it’s still good to check. For instance, #Pushups is banned on Instagram along with #Snapchat, #Beautyblogger #Alone, #NewYearsDay to name a few. If you use these tags, your content and page may be punished by the algorithm. So it pays to check.

3. Too broad: Yes, you see six million people have used a hashtag, but you also need to consider that you are competing with that same amount of people. Get specific. If it’s a cake, then consider using #vegancake, #redvelvet, #redvelvetcake #redvelvetbeetroot. Yes, you may include generic hashtags but always try to be specific and also include your company name #chelancommunications.

4. Same hashtags: Using the same hashtags on every post is bound to get you into the same problems as point one above. It is lazy, and after a while the algorithm will start ignoring your posts. Yes, there are staple hashtags, as mentioned in point three, but you must always ensure that you are mixing up the content and the hashtags. It could be something as different as the colour; and even if it’s the same item, there should be a different descriptor.

It is not difficult to effectively use hashtags for your business. If you are mindful of the errors listed above, then you should begin to see a difference in how your content is found. Always think about how you use social media. What are the things you search for? How do you search? What hashtags are used by companies that are similar to yours? These are all effective ways to ensure that hashtags start working for you and your business.


Chelan Smith is CEO of Chelan Communications. With over 13 years of experience in social media, she has worked with local and international companies to develop and implement strategy and develop and solidify their digital brand voice.