• Hashtag Dos and Don’ts for Small Business Marketing

Hashtag Dos and Don'ts for for Small Business Marketing

Social media is a great local internet marketing tool for many reasons— one of which being hashtags. Hashtags can expand your reach, increase engagement, build your brand, and ultimately lead to more customers. Finding hashtags and incorporating them into your posts is easy to do, but the key to benefiting from them is using them properly. In this post we’ll go over the dos and don’ts of hashtag marketing so that you can use hashtags to grow your business.

Hashtag Dos & Don'ts for Small Business Marketing

Hashtag Marketing Do’s

Below are the techniques and strategies to put into place that will help you stay in line with hashtag marketing best practices.

Do: Make Your Profile Public

One of the functions of hashtags is to help direct users searching specific terms to your posts and/or account. However, your Instagram and Twitter accounts must be public in order to use hashtags for this purpose.

While you’re at it, check your Facebook settings and make sure your Facebook business page is public and accessible.

Do: Update Your Accounts

Now that your accounts are public and hashtags are driving traffic to your profiles, it’s important to make sure your profile pages are accurate and up to date. Make a habit out of maintaining your profile pages on a regular basis, to prevent your profile from becoming stale, or even worse—inaccurate.

Do: Use Popular Hashtags

Not every hashtag you use has to be a custom hashtag. In fact, one of the best ways to use hashtags in your marketing is to capitalize on the traffic of already existing hashtags. Keep in mind, however, that the more popular the hashtag, the more likely your content is to get lost in the shuffle, so try to find hashtags that are specific to your business and branding.

Do: Populate the Hashtag

Popular or trending hashtags that are already in use will have plenty of results when searched, but this is not the case with a new or custom hashtag you’ve created for your business. If you make a custom hashtag for your business, don’t post it just yet. First, go back and edit your existing posts/content to include the hashtag. This way, when users search for that hashtag or see it in a new post, they will see results when they tap or click on it.

You may also want to use this hashtag best practice for choosing a hashtag. Take a look at the topics for which you already have a high volume of content, and see if you can identify a popular or custom hashtag from it.

Do: Use Hashtags in Context

One important hashtag best practice is to use them in context. Hashtags are not meant to replace captions. Make sure you use hashtags as a supplement to the content in your posts—not just by themselves or in a list of other hashtags.

Do: Know Your Audience

This best practice is important for getting meaningful engagement and results from your hashtag marketing. To use hashtags effectively, make sure you have a strong sense of your target audience—the language they use, the topics that are important to them, which social media platforms they use, and what they might be searching on social media. This will ensure that your hashtags connect your business with potential customers.

Do: Engage with Hashtag Users

Once you’ve placed a hashtag into a post, you’re all done, right? Wrong! It is crucial to monitor your hashtagged posts and interact with the people engaging with them. This will encourage them to continue engaging, will build your relationship with them, and will inspire others to engage as well. In addition to responding to comments on your own posts, search the hashtags that you use, and engage with others using those hashtags.

Related: Your Free Hashtag Handbook

Hashtag Marketing Don’ts

Best practices don’t just refer to what to do. They also include what not to do. Below are some practices to avoid in your hashtag marketing.

Don’t: Use Punctuation in Hashtags

A hashtag gets cut off with the first space or punctuation that follows it, so don’t put punctuation in the middle of a hashtag. For example, writing #it’sanewday will create the hashtag #it. Users who tap that hashtag expecting to see inspiring or motivational content will instead see posts on information technology (IT).

Punctuation at the end of a hashtag is fine, such as with #itsanewday! Or What’s your favorite #healthydessertrecipe?

Don’t: Use Commas to Separate Hashtags

Even though you can use commas to separate multiple hashtags, it’s better to use spaces instead. This is most common way that users list hashtags, and also creates a cleaner look. For example, use #interiordesign #homedecor #interiorstyle instead of #interiordesign, #homedecor, #interiorstyle.

Don’t: Repeat Hashtags in the Same Post

Using the same hashtag twice in one post will not increase its effectiveness, so don’t do it!

Don’t: Use Too Many Hashtags in One Post

Too many hashtags in one post tend to be overwhelming and will give your post a “spammy” vibe, so limit yourself to 1 to 3 hashtags in your Instagram and Twitter posts.

You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram, however, so to benefit from this many hashtags without ruining your posts, put the hashtags in a comment so that they don’t distract from the caption of the photo. Hashtags in your comments work the same way as they do in your posts.

Don’t: Use The Same Hashtag in Every Post

You’ll want to use the same hashtags frequently to build brand awareness and engagement, but do not use the same hashtag in every post. It’s a general social media best practice to diversify your content to avoid redundancy and losing followers. The one exception here is your own custom business hashtag, which you are free to use in all posts.

Hashtags can be confusing but once you understand the basics, you’ll find them to be easy and effective. Now that you know what to do and what not to do, it’s time to get started with your hashtag marketing!

Kristen McCormick
Kristen McCormick
Kristen is the Content Marketing Manager for ThriveHive, where she geeks out daily over SEO, organic traffic, and A/B testing. When she's not equipping business owners and marketers to get their name out there through effective content, she's out pedaling the streets of Boston on her beloved bike.

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