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Leveraging the Hashtag

A Beginner’s Guide to a Complex Topic:

Some know it as the pound sign or just simply as a symbol for ‘number’, but the hashtag has grown to mean much more than that. The now famous hashtag became relevant on August 23, 2007 when Chris Messina proposed the idea to Twitter. Ever since, it has served as a grouping mechanism and element of social media success.

So what does it take to create a hashtag? Let’s take a look on how to not only create an effective hashtag, but also how to leverage it.


3 Tips for Creating the Perfect Hashtag:

  1. Keep them short and sweet. Although it has been a saying for centuries now, “keep it short and sweet” is no exception when creating effective hashtags. Keeping your hashtag short will reduce clutter in yours post and make it easier for the reader to follow.

                               Example:  #AdvertisingFun is much simpler than #AdvertisingIsSoMuchFunILoveIt.

  1. Use capitalization to your advantage. Using capitalization helps your reader differentiate between words and unclutters your hashtag.

                              Example: #KeepAustinWeird verus #keepaustinweird.

  1. Simple is best. Using numbers is okay, but the use of punctuation and special characters ($, %, *) don’t register. Simple is always best when creating a hashtag.

                             Example: #12thAnnualFunRun instead of #12thAnnualFunRun!! or #AmysIceCream, not #Amy’sIceCream.


3 Tips on How to Leverage Your Hashtag:

  1. Geo-target using your hashtag. The hashtag can be used to geo-target audiences. For instance, #AustinTexas relates directly to people who either live, have lived, visited, or even just have an interest in Austin. This unites a group of people and helps use location to market your company or product. Also, always check for alternate versions of geo-hashtags, while #AustinTexas has been used frequently, #ATX is a much more popular hashtag among social users.

                            Example: Come celebrate the stars and stripes with White Hat! #ATX #4thOfJuly

  1. Create unique hashtags. Creating a unique hashtag can show an event that your company is hosting or even supporting. This spreads awareness for your event and company.

                           Example: Join us for the #WhiteHatFunRun taking place this weekend!

  1. Use already trending hashtags to your advantage. There is always a sporting, local, international, etc. event that you can using to your advantage when posting. Using relevant hashtags like #FrenchOpen or #NBAPlayoffs2016 can help catch the attention of the online community who are interested in that event. This helps you insert yourself into conversation and gain more engagement and followers.

                          Example: The two greats are squaring off! Curry vs. James #NBAPlayoffs2016

A Word of Caution…

When to Avoid Hashtags:

If you don’t understand the meaning of a hashtag or are using it about a controversial topic or surrounding a tragedy, it’s best to avoid hashtags related to those events.


Kenneth Cole:

Kenneth Cole became the target of the Internet’s wrath after the company’s tweeted a promotion that joked about escalating protests in Egypt.


DiGiorno Pizza:

#WhyIStayed was started in response to the video of NFL running back Ray Rice assaulting his wife. DiGiorno’s, who didn’t understand the purpose of the hashtag, decided to use it in an attempt to sell it product.



The NYPD attempted to use a hashtag to foster goodwill between itself and the people of New York City, however, they learned a valuable lesson that once you create a hashtag, you no longer have control over it.



Another example of gauging your audience before creating a hashtag is McDonalds and the #McDStories hashtag they created for their following to share their positive experiences at the restaurant. Needless to say, it back fired.


Hashtags are a wonderful tool if you use them correctly, and we hope this guide has given you a good understanding of when and how to use hashtags.

#GoodLuck and #MayTheForceBeWithYou

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