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You know a word’s made it into the mainstream when Scrabble adds it.

What the older generations — and some automated answering systems to this day — called the pound sign has long since morphed into a cultural mainstay.

Hashtags have even moved past their original 21st century function of categorizing content on social media platforms.

You’ll often see them serving as de facto exclamation points for slogans and comments that have nothing to do with search.

black sox instagram message

Used in this fashion, hashtags can be entertaining, adding a sidebar-sorta insight to the site’s host.

This practice can possibly have ancillary benefits in terms of theme and tone, and in the example shown, it’s a primary purpose.

Marketers on social platforms, though, should stick to the script. Use hashtags to emphasize your campaign’s keywords.

Here’s a quick guide for the do’s and don’t of using hashtags for marketing purposes:

Do …

Be specific. Fine-tuning is essential. The more you can zero in on your targeted audience, the better your engagement.

Tailor your hashtags to the platform. Clearly, each social network is there for a reason, ie- it came to life so as to provide a service the others don’t. Thus, they all have different recommendations for hashtag usage. For example:

  • Twitter advises using only one or two to find conversations;
  • Instagram collates common messages and suggests only a couple, as well;
  • Facebook is only effective for companies and brands; and
  • LinkedIn only activates hashtags on its mobile platform.

Deploy unbranded hashtags. Expand your audience by identifying generic keywords that relate to your brand. As well, if you have a distinctive slogan that’s easily remembered, use it.

Don’t …

Outsmart yourself. Being clever can work within your message, but it will likely miss the mark when working to attract traffic. People do natural searches; they’re looking to satisfy a need, not compare off-the-wall ripostes.

Get long. Word economy is always the best option. People do simple searches on platforms that use hashtags. Save the longtails for SEO.

Smother your message. If your text is concise, your hashtags need to be more concise so as not to upstage it.

This stuff isn’t rocket science, but it does help to have a bit of science behind you.

As in data analysis.

Here are a couple of free hashtag generator services that have done the heavy lifting and offer their results to you for utilization and/or inspiration:

Hashtags can be fun in personal circles, but as a business tool, they’re an effective gateway for more exposure and, if well-researched and succinct, more engagement.

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