Observe Hashtag Etiquette
Isn’t Twitter just for B2C marketers and teens? Hardly. 84% of B2B marketers are now usually social media in one form or another. A major survey of CMOs found that in the next 5 years marketers expect to spend nearly 20% of their budget on social media. If you’re going to be taking the plunge into using Twitter to promote your small business, or you’ve already gotten started on the network, ensure learning hashtag etiquette is high on your list.
Way back in Spring 2007 when Twitter was an infant among social media networks, the hashtag was introduced as a way to categorize user-generated content. There was an initial, negative reaction from early adopters of the platform who thought the tag looked awkward and ugly. The tags didn’t catch on until October 2007, when they became a convenient way to share emergency-related information about the San Diego fires. In 2012, Hashtags are a powerful way to participate in conversations and search for information. Just please make sure you’re not guilty of any of the following:
1. The Hashtag Addiction
Even the founder of Hashtags thinks they’re way overused. Chris Messina does, and he’s generally acknowledged as the guy who “brought hashtags out of the geekosphere.” Why should we care? Well, for starters it’s pretty annoying and difficult to read:
Social Media blogger Will Coley expresses concern that tweets with way too many hashtags aren’t just annoying, they’re confusing and scary: “I am concerned that overusing hashtags keeps Twitter in the geekosphere and scares off people who aren’t yet using this great tool.” Mashable recommends you keep your usage to 2 tags or less per Tweet whenever possible.
2. Irrelevant Usage
Do you tag each and every tweet with #SMM (social media marketing), even if you’re actually just sharing a picture of your lunch? Well, cut it out. There are few things more irritating to someone trying to participate in dialogue than unrelated, self-promotional use.
3. The Longest Hashtag Ever
There’s now law about how long your hashtags should be. The maximum length of a Tweet is 140 characters, and you could theoretically use all 139 to create your own hashtag. But for the love of Twitter, please don’t. 3-4 words is optimal for readability, and be sure to capitolize the first letter of each word, known as employing camel case.
4. Self-Promotional Hashtagging
If you’ve already said it, you don’t need to say it again. That includes using a hashtag for social media in the body and again at the end of the Tweet.
Tagging each and every Tweet with your own self-made hashtag can come across as just amateurish. If your company name is clearly related to your username and your company is briefly explained in your bio, you don’t need to tag the content with your company name again
Jumping into a preexisting conversation about a trending hashtag to promote your product or services is probably going to come across as really tacky. Unless you can add something of value to the dialogue or completely understand the trending topic, try and stay out of it.
6. Hashtag Sampling
You’ve seen it before. Misusing a trending hashtag can damage a personal or company brand. Rewind to early July, 2011. A grand jury had just deemed there was insufficient evidence to Casey Anthony of murdering her 2 year-old daughter, and many Twitter users were expressing their opinions with the #NotGuilty hashtag. Whether or not they were attempting humor or were just really in the dark, baked goods manufacturer Entenmann’s issued the following tasteless tweet in response to the trending topic:
Outroar immediately erupted and the company’s followers were shocked. The brand issued an apology quickly:
Though their apology was right-on, the damage was done. The brand was perceived as insensitive and the example was curated among the worst PR mistakes since the invention of the hashtag. Of course someone even initiated an “Entenmann’s PR” parody Twitter account.
What Are Your Pet Peeves About Hashtag Use on Twitter?