hashtag post.pngAs Integrate’s social media manager, I have my stack of go-to hashtags readily available before the day’s blog title is even announced. Admit it – you have a list too. Hashtags are great. They allow you to easily find content, identify which market categories are getting the most traction and even expand your content’s reach. Plus, the more you use them, the more your inner teen comes out.

First, here’s a few reasons we love hashtags so much.

The value of hashtags

Identifying trends

Everyone in the B2B space knows account-based marketing (ABM) is currently one of the hottest topics. MarTech, content marketing, demand gen, email marketing and marketing automation also make the list.

As B2B marketers discover the latest innovations and trends, a new hashtag is added to the mix. This helps marketers like us monitor what’s currently hot within the industry. In fact, creating a list within Twitter of your top industry contributors and monitoring their top hashtags will allow you to see what the biggest influencers are discussing most. You can then pass this info on to your content team and even use it to hone your own social messaging.

Growing your following and expanding your reach

An important part of managing a company’s social media accounts is finding and promoting third-party content that amplifies your company’s messaging to expand its audience. Scouring blogs, monitoring influencer social accounts and navigating through the “must-watch” list of hashtags allows me to gather the materials I need to build Integrate’s social media presence.

To collect content pieces, I begin by skimming through the influencer lists created in our content marketing platform to see if any top contributors have posted any relevant content. If you don’t have a CMS to do this, a Twitter list is sufficient.

Articles and blog posts shared by influencers are typically great pieces for sharing up to a week after the initial posts. If the content was shared by a potential prospect, even better – share from their handle and think of way to open a relevant conversation, it’s a great way to engage potential prospects.

And then the most important part – adding the right hashtags to your post to ensure it’s easily found. Combining third-party content with the right type and cadence of hashtags in effect allows you to use other’s content development efforts to grow your own following, which is then leveraged to expand the reach of your content and messaging.

So yeah, hashtags are great…if they’re used correctly. But like anything else, there’s also a wrong way to use a hashtag. Here are three ways marketers commonly misuse them.

Are you misusing hashtags?

Heavy-handed hashtagging

How do you know if you’re over-doing it? It comes down to disciplined social performance monitoring.

At the end of each month, I pull a report from Twitter and import it into Excel to sort by various interactions. I then analyze the top tweets to identify trends in handles, subject matter, hashtags, number of hashtags, length of tweet, etc.

Surprisingly, the top-performing tweets typically consists of only one or two hashtags. Further, these hashtags are generally used within the title of the article or the wording expressed in the tweet (as opposed to a litany of hashtags at the end of the post). It should look like the # symbol is part of the sentence structure.

Going too niche or too broad

Knowing what word or phrase to tag with a hash is what can make or break your reach potential. Having a tag that’s too broad or too niche can limit who sees your content.

Say for example your content is targeting B2B marketers who focus on demand gen; #marketing is an extremely broad hashtag – your tweet will likely drown in a sea of other posts. On the other hand, going to specific with something like #B2BDemandGenerationMarketing is too specific, too long and just simply redundant (because demand gen only applies to B2B marketing).

Taking the Goldilocks approach works best. Using something like #B2BMarketing will narrow your audience, but may still be too broad if it’s the only hashtag within your post. When using general terms like these, I like to add a second tag within my post or after the URL to narrow the target further. In this case dropping a #DemandGen, #LeadGen, #MarketingAutomation or #ABM would work well depending on the content the tweet is promoting. This tailors the post to incorporate the audience of both phrases while specifying what the content is about.

Using the same hashtag in every post

You also want to make sure you don’t overuse the same hashtags in every post. This is kind of like being that person at the office who uses the same joke over and over because he got a laugh that one time.

You’ll want to limit the use of specific tags based on your number of personas, products, content topics, etc. Personally, I use a specific tag once every four posts each day. For example, if I publish eight tweets a day, I include #B2BMarketers twice. It’s important to have a distinct voice, but you don’t want that voice to monotonous or redundant.

Hashtags can bring a lot of value to the B2B marketing table, from discovering content, monitoring influencers and identifying trending topics to building your brand awareness and generating demand. If done properly, the right tag will support your content marketing strategy, expanding your reach, credibility and influence throughout your industry. Just make sure you don’t get lazy with hashtags and your social strategy.