by Edie Melson @EdieMelson
Hashtags—especially for Twitter—can be incredibly valuable in helping us increase out audience. But only if we learn to use them correctly.
They’re not that hard, but there are some rules you need to follow so you’re not wasting valuable real estate in your tweets.
First, lets back up and evaluate the reason we’re all working at building an online presence. We are looking to deepen existing relationships and build new ones. But building new ones can be difficult if the only people we interact with are those we already know, either online or in person.
We can get a little bit of exposure to new folks by our existing connections introducing us, but that’s a time consuming way to go about it.
What if there was a way for someone to search a given social media network by topic and find new, interesting people to interact with? That would be a great way to grow our connections.
THAT, in the simplest of terms, is the purpose of using hashtags.
When you compose a social media update that includes one or two hashtags that summarize the topic—you are giving folks who wouldn’t otherwise have a connection with you—a way to find you.
Here’s an example of the correct way to do this. this is the tweet I use to share this post (minus the link):
5 Tips for Using Hashtags Correctly – via #SocialMedia
Mentor @EdieMelson #twitter
5 Tips for Using Hashtags Correctly
- Don’t overload your social media updates with hashtags. The optimum number of hashtags depends on the social media network you’re on.
- Twitter: two hashtags is best, but one or three will also work.
- Facebook: no more than one hashtag per update, otherwise you may be unintentionally spamming your followers
- Instagram: two hashtags is best, but one or three will also work here as well.
- Take time to research the best hashtags. Some hashtags are better than others. You won’t know which ones are most current unless you take time research them. The best way to do your research? Do a search on the social media network where you want to use the hashtag. You can also research a hashtag by typing it into the Google search engine and seeing what updates come up.
- Making up a new hashtag is fine—if you pair it with a popular hashtag. If I wanted to try to make #TheWriteConversation into a writing hashtag, it wouldn’t do me any good unless I paired it with another popular #writing hashtag. No one is going to know to search for #TheWriteConversation unless I educate them. If I just use #TheWriteConversation, it’s no more than wasted space in my social media update.
- Remember a space ends the hashtag. So often I see people forget and add a space in between two words in a hashtag. Once you hit the space bar, the hashtag ends. So #Social Media is really only the hashtag #Social, instead of #SocialMedia. NOTE: this is also true of the @ sign. If I type @Edie Melson, it’s just like I’m typing @Edie, and that person is NOT me.
- Leave some room at the end of your tweets so your hashtags aren’t cut off if it’s retweeted. Tweets are only 140 characters long. If I use all 140 characters, then if anyone retweets it, the end will be cut off because there’s no room for the retweeters information that goes at the beginning of the tweet. I try to leave 10 to 15 blank characters, but my absolute minimum is 7. This insures at least one unchanged retweet.
These are my top 5 tips for using hashtags correctly. I’d love for you to share yours. Or, be sure to leave any questions about hashtags you have in the comments section below.