Three common hashtag mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Get Ahead VASocial MediaThree common hashtag mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Hashtags didn’t exist more than a decade ago. Now, they’re everywhere.

Social tech expert, Chris Messina, is said to have created the very first hashtag on Twitter. He posted #barcamp in August 2007 in this Tweet:

‘How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]??’

Interestingly, Chris’ hashtag recommendation was turned down by Twitter amid claims they would never catch on…

Fast forward to today and hashtags are pretty much everywhere on social media, and not just on Twitter where they originated either.

But for all their popularity, there are still some common mistakes that often catch people out, which can impact the effectiveness of their hashtags. Here are three of them:

MISTAKE 1: Getting hashtag happy  

There’s pretty much a hashtag for anything and everything these days. At the time of writing this post, some of the ‘trending’ hashtags on Twitter were #Glastonbury2019, #marr, #SundayMorning and #CardiffHalf.

The examples above are lifestyle-related hashtags, there are, of course, a whole host of business-related hashtags out there too, such as #FemaleFounders, #B2B, #innovation, #entrepreneurs, and so on.

With so many established hashtags out there, it can be tempting to use them all. Surely, that’ll get people’s attention, right? Unfortunately not, you’ll effectively be spamming them with hashtags, not to mention, most probably targeting the wrong readers. Try to use three to four per post.

MISTAKE 2: Forgetting your target audience

If you go a bit overboard with your hashtags, it’ll be ok because your posts are bound to be read by people at some point, aren’t they? Again, this is where you’d be going wrong.

Your posts (no matter how wonderfully they may have been written) will effectively become lost in the sea of posts already out there that feature the same hashtags that you’ve used. As with all forms of writing, do your research before you start drafting your posts. Which hashtags are more relevant to your target audience? And how can you whittle them down to that core set of three to four?

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sea of hashtags? Then you may want to give tools, such as Hashtagify, RiteTag, Tweet Archivist and Trendsmap, a try.

MISTAKE 3: Not thinking local

It’s really common for businesses to immediately focus on hashtags that are trending globally and totally forget about their local hashtags, which can be incredibly effective.

When you use hashtags a little closer to home, you go from fishing in the ocean to a relatively small pond.

If you want to promote a venue or are holding an event you want to get people too, then suss out your local hashtags. They’re a great way to establish local connections within your local community. Here are some examples – #guildfordhour, #Croydonhour, #ChichesterHour.

A lot can be achieved with this little symbol. However, you do need to monitor and refine your hashtags in response to how they perform. Using them isn’t rocket science, but they do require some thought if you want them to be seen by your target audience. #thinkbeforeyouhashtag


Need some more best practice guidance on your hashtags or overall social media strategy? We can help. Please give us a call on 01483 332220 or email us at [email protected]. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.

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