Hashtags and Social Media: The Do’s and Don’ts

A positive social media experience can make the difference between a strong online presence and lost business. Every single operation that occupies space on this platform will have their own horror story, unable to avoid the hassles that come with customer service. Mistakes get made and errors become exposed.

Yet many chose to stick to a core of key guidelines on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and reap the rewards. Social media should be seen as a vehicle of engagement where an enterprise can open a dialogue with their consumer base. It is not always a friendly or welcoming environment, but neither is your business 100% of the time.

positive social media experience

There are many things to learn about hashtags and social media.

It can be a daunting and confusing business when social media is involved for business owners. If you are one of those uninitiated to the protocol, it is simply a matter of applying some basic etiquette with a handful of clever techniques.

No need to become stressed or overwhelmed by the task at hand. It is just a matter of tapping into a thriving online community and building your brand awareness. Once this has been put into motion, the habits become natural and recurring.

Hashtags Do’s and Don’ts

Overlap With Other Trending Topics

Sometimes the best practice in the hashtag game is to tap into a topic that is already trending. Why try and start a campaign from the ground up when there are already valid headline-grabbing items ready to be exploited?

Discover what is being discussed in your location of note and see if it incorporates with your operation in some shape or form.

In New York City in 2017, they held a special event for the UN Foundation that was promoted via #GlobalLeadership. This was in aid of honouring and promoting their own global initiatives while raising money for a good cause.

This led the likes of the UNA-USA, Better World Campaign, AKDN and Andrews Institute to showcase their inclusion on the night.

The #IceBucketChallenge was another grand example of how a hashtag can go viral and if there is the scope to include your business, get involved. It increases brand awareness and includes you in a larger online conversation.

Don’t Overthink Hashtags

hashtags in social media

It can be quite easy to overthink the importance and use of a hashtag.

Login to Twitter right now and take a glance at the column on the left. There will be a string of topics that are currently trending. Some of these will be general topics, others will arrive in the form of a hashtag.

When the National Rugby League competition concluded in October, their next big ticket item would be the draw for the 2018 schedule. Rather than offer an unusual marketing acronym or something out of leftfield, they simply pushed and plugged #NRLDraw.

There is no ambiguity for the user and everyone within Australia can see what is trending without having to undergo further enquiry. Stick to hashtags that inform rather than go down the abstract route where possible.

Campaigns that opt for hashtags like #WTFF (what the French fry) get lost in translation very quickly as Burger King once discovered.

Keep them short, sharp and punchy. The longer the hashtag, the less likely it will be remembered or utilised by customers and third parties.

Remember to Monitor The Conversation

So you have created a hashtag, made it apart of your promotional material and left it to its own devices. What you must ensure takes place next is having someone keep a close eye on what happens next, because a hashtag campaign that draws in the wrong crowd or is used for a different purpose can become a nightmare.

That will affect the organisation badly by making fun of something that was crafted for a specific requirement.

One of the most infamous examples would be a British PR company who were plugging singer Susan Boyle’s latest album. Without double and triple checking the word usage, they ventured forward with #susanalbumparty. Needless to say, this was spoofed with much glee by online users while leaving the artist and that company red faced.

Then there would be the 2011 case study of Entenmann’s who were pushing #notguilty. This was a means of promoting their food to say that customers can eat their low carb offerings without being concerned over weight gain.

Then came the murder case of Casey Anthony, embroiling Entenmann in the fiasco. It was a PR nightmare that could so easily been avoided. Think twice about the implications about your hashtag, have a contingency in place and remember to monitor the activity on the thread.

Don’t Just Keep Hashtags in Social Media Realm

positive social media experience

Hashtags don’t just have to be for use on social media.

Hashtags broke out of the social media box a number of years ago. You will come across them in print advertisements, video commercials, billboards and anywhere else a marketing space exists.

This is why it is useful to incorporate a hashtag campaign throughout your other media platforms. It allows a message to stay consistent and syncs in with brand awareness.

Consumers will then be more likely to associate that campaign with your organisation and go searching for it online. It is a win-win scenario, but don’t overdo it.

Social Media Do’s and Don’ts

Make It Personalised

A business social media account can be viewed from a number of different angles, but it will reflect the conduct and standing of those individuals who run it.

Consumers are very savvy and will be making regular judgments based on the following:

  • Response time
  • Feedback given
  • Helpfulness
  • Ease of communication
  • Variety of platforms

Many of these issues can be tackled simultaneously to have a personalised voice to your messages with the consumer. A stock standard response might look something like: “You can find more product information on our website or call us for further details.”

An engaged and personalised response would come across with a human touch to acknowledge the concern of the enquirer: “Thank you for your feedback David. Our new line of footwear is available to purchase in our Sydney stores, or we can ship them direct to your home. Please find more detail in the link below and contact us if you require any further information. Kind regards Sharon – marketing and sales team.”

If the question arrives on Twitter, do not be concerned about replying in a series of tweets to overcome the 140 character limit. Some companies opt to reply in direct messages, but it is best to be upfront and public about your communication with the public.

Don’t Overkill Automated Messages

positive social media experience

Message automation is effective, but always use sparingly.

Automation is perfectly acceptable in a handful of instances on social media. Should you be promoting a product or piece of content over the course of a couple of days or weeks, then having someone manually typing out the same message becomes laborious.

In this instance, it is fine to have a software application like Hootsuite to automate a series of messages across your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram hubs.

Yet you cannot overlook the need to engage users that are searching for a response or a sense of human interaction when it comes to customer service. An enterprise should differentiate between the two disciplines where automation is fine for those one-way channels while it should be discarded when talking to an individual.

Complete Your Profiles

Ever searched for a company on Facebook or Twitter only to find that their presentation is out of date? Unable to find their phone number, email address or correct URL? This is where many companies have fallen ill of social media etiquette before as they venture too far too soon, only to leave themselves and the customers short-changed.

As well as the contact information, logos and proper website address, keep the style consistent. Any new high-resolution images are great content across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Every one of those platforms allows you to have a banner image, so ensure that is the same throughout.

Don’t Make It Your Company’s Central Hub

Of all the pitfalls that enterprises fall into with social media, they can quickly find themselves overboard with the amount of time spent on these platforms. Should you have enough staff to cater to this department, then give them the scope to engage with consumer enquiries and promote new products and events.

hashtags in social media

Social media is important, but there are other areas your business needs to focus on as well.

For small to medium enterprises (SMEs), it is satisfactory to login for 10-20 minutes per day to stay abreast of your social media space. Post a new article, share a product promotion, answer some questions and leave it until the next business day.

Some operations fall into the trap of avoiding other tasks and use it as an excuse to catch up on their own social media account. Don’t allow this diversion to take place.

Summary

Social media campaigns and hashtags have a number of overlapping practices that should be adhered to. Hashtags form just one part of the grander plan when it comes to social media management, yet it can be a powerful driver if utilised properly.

  • They must be consistent across platforms, from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram
  • Conversations should be personable but not intrusive or lacking in professional discourse
  • They must be adjacent to your overall marketing strategy, but not dominated by it

Social media will reflect how a company operates. Some will be too cold and professional, anxious over the possibility that they could make a PR faux pas as was seen with Susan Boyle’s album release.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum whereby social media managers go over-the-top in search for cut-through. Don’t buy into the notion that any news is good news because a thread can quickly spin out of control. A campaign must be controlled from day one and adhering to these principles will keep that on track.

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Katherine Mouradian

Katherine Mouradian

Katherine has been working for SEO Shark for almost two years. Over the years her passion for SEO and digital marketing has grown. She is dedicated to her research and providing those findings to the world.
Katherine Mouradian

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