The Marketing Rock-star’s Guide to Hashtag Etiquette
So you want to be a marketing rockstar on Twitter, good for you! Social media marketing is a great way to promote yourself and your company or organization but when it comes to hashtag (#) use, there are some unwritten rules on etiquette, overuse and even hashtag “camel case.” Before you jump in and compose tweets, consult this guide on using hashtags properly. It will ensure you’re a rockstar with a Twitter account people will follow.
Hashtags are used to promote something trendy. For example, #JustinBieber and #LadyGaga are just two of the most popularly used tags on Twitter, unless of course you’re #CharlieSheen. Originally, Twitter users first started using the # symbol to reveal something trendy.
Once Twitter saw their popularity and benefit, they became “searchable” on Twitter and other online venues like Google+ and Instagram.
Twitter pages have a search tool at the top where one can search for a popular hashtag; for example, #ObamaPayCut. But there is an easier way to find what’s trendy on Twitter.
Finding the Trendy
Mashable offers a great post on finding hot trends on Twitter. One method is using websites like Twubs that “uses a wiki system to help disseminate information on a hashtag and aggregates tweets and imports pictures to help illuminate the topics being discussed.” Mashable recommends other venues including “What the Trend” and Hastags.org.
Knowing what’s trendy before composing your 140 characters or less will aid you in writing great tweets. The key is finding “relevant” trends to tag in your tweet.
Why Relevant Hashtags Are a Must-Do
An important thing to consider about relevant hashtags is to only utilize those that add to your tweet, not just popular tags to draw in followers. If the purpose of your tweet doesn’t match the popular trend, you will just annoy readers.
#Obama might always be trendy but if you’re not posting a political tweet or rant (and most marketers aren’t) adding it to your tweet will leave dedicated Twitter users angry. If the purpose of your tweet is to promote a new smartphone, compose the tweet with the name of the smartphone and do use the hashtag #BestSmartphones.
Too Many #’s Do Not Make a Good Tweet
Even new Twitter users have seen those tweets comprised of too many hashtags. There might be a message somewhere in the tweet but to readers, deciphering that message isn’t worth their time.
Never tweet something like: #Sale at our #NorthLocation and #Get10%Off or #EntertoWin followed by that tiny URL linking to your website. Not only are there too many hashtags, who knows what you’re selling at your big sale.
“Camel Case” Is Important
As you start your Tweets for the day sitting in front of your new laptop, one important “unwritten” rule about hashtags is to ensure you’re using proper “camel case.”
This means your hashtags should have the first letter of each word capitalized with no spaces. Do use hashtags like #FindTheBestLaptops but never use #findthebestlaptops or #find the best laptops.
Start Your Own Hashtag
When promoting new products, it’s wise to start your own hashtag and that’s pretty simple to do. If you want to get the word out on Twitter about new computer memory upgrades a good way to do so is to first compose your tweet and then create a relevant hashtag.
What’s relevant here? The memory upgrade so #NewMemoryUpgrades is a great tag to use when tweeting about this new product. Keep hashtags to three words or less if possible.
Twitter Is Not the Place to Ding a Competitor
If you’re clients are all based in the technology or electronics arena, don’t find competitors who are tweeting and say, #Company may say they have the best device but #YourCompanyName disagrees!
Consumers want options and while they may enjoy the digs of celebs, they don’t want to see companies tweeting digs about their competitors.
Mention Twitter Accounts Who Review Your Products
If you’re lucky enough to receive an online review from places like CNET or Consumer Reports do post their link and thank them by inserting #CNET or #ConsumerReports.
Another must-do when mentioning reviewers is to let them know you’re tweeting the review by adding the @ sign—this means you’re tweeting them directly—such as @CNET or @ConsumerReports. You can even use the direct message tool to let the reviewer know about your tweet. If the review is coming from an industry professional, make sure you not only retweet their tweet, but compose your own tweet that links to their review and follow the same guidelines for the # and the @ sign.
Entering a Non-Relevant Conversation and Hijacking
As your browse what’s hot on twitter or see an exciting post that’s been retweeted again and again, if it’s not relevant to your promotions or marketing efforts, don’t join in and enter your two-cents into the conversation.
If something trendy is about #UnemploymentRates and you’re promoting flameless candles, how much of a following or interest do you think you’ll get by trying to offer something to the conversation but then adding your non-useful hashtag? The answer is none.
Don’t join a conversation by saying, We totally agree with the #UnemploymentRates and be sure to check out #YourCompanyNameFlamelessCandles. People will spot this as a spam hashtag immediately.
Ragan.com offered a great example of this where the Entenmann Company attempted this type of self-promotion or “hijacking” after the Casey Anthony #NotGuilty verdict. Their post: “Who’s #NotGuilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!” This can damage your brand says Ragan.com.
Set Up Twitter Alerts for Trends
Another insight from Mashable is taking advantage of Twitter alerts using Twilert. The principle behind this is to create a Twilert account via your Twitter user name and then setting up alerts relevant to your marketing campaign.
The alerts are easy to use, simply put in #BestLaptops for example and how often you want alerts to be sent to your email. Once you receive these alerts, make sure you join the conversation—if it’s relevant, retweet and add your own hashtag.
It’s not hard to become a rockstar marketer on Twitter using hashtags but there are some never-dos, etiquette and unwritten rules to follow if you want Twitter campaigns to succeed.
About the Author
Phil Cohen is a nerd at heart and loves to share his ideas and experiences across the web. In his spare time he likes to play Xbox, brew beer, and watch movies on his new laptop.