A Quick #Hashtag Lesson

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By Tim Bosch

Hashtags can be a  beautiful thing for a brand. They are one of the best ways to categorize your tweets and make them more searchable. However, hashtag functionality is becoming watered down by their constant misuse. Here are my 5 recommendations for hashtag optimization:

#Do Not #Use Too #Many #Hashtags In A #Sentence

When too many hashtags are used in a sentence, it makes it harder to scan through tweets. Most people don't really read tweets; they scan though them. If something catches their attention, then they read it a bit more carefully. Basically people move from one post to the next, looking for compelling content.  Anything that breaks that rhythm is to be avoided at all costs.

Irrelevant Hashtags

The hashtag is essentially the theme of your tweet. Piggybacking off trending or popular hashtags can be OK if your brand belongs in that conversation and has meaningful content to share. Populating a tweet with #twitter #bieber and #iPhone is useless and extremely annoying.

Leave The Hashtags At The End of the Tweet

This way, the actual content is optimized for readability. Going back to my first point, hashtags can become disruptive when embedded in a sentence.

Keep Your Mobile Users In Mind

Nowadays, you have to assume that a decent chunk of people will be using your hashtag on mobile phones.  Therefore, you should stay away from numbers and special characters, e.g., #hash_tag2011. If you are like me and have big clumsy thumbs, typing numbers and special characters can be pretty frustrating.

Use Capital Letters For The First Letter of Each Word

Sometimes multiple word hashtags that are all lower case are not easily identifiable. If you want to create a hashtag you should make it as clear as possible, e.g., #FunFactFriday. Other people will not have to type the capitals into the hashtag, but the brand always should.

Final Thoughts

The common theme of hashtag optimization is readability and relevancy. For most of lives, we have been reading sentences without @symbols and #hashtags. Since Twitter is only 140 characters, this new sentence structure has not dampened user experience on Twitter. However, it helps to remember that when people scan through tweets, they skip anything that strays too far from the normal pattern.  Also, Twitter users are savvy. You can’t trick them in to following you by using popular hashtags that have no synergy with you message-- be relevant! Hopefully, these tips will serve to help guide your hashtag use. Happy hashtagging!

What is your take on hashtag use? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Tim