Says Swope: "If we think about hashtags as a way to organize content into a large conversation, then we can think of brands and other partners as hosts, and the people who are posting as participants. The interests of both parties are very closely aligned."
Brainstorming the Best Hashtags
In most cases, Volpe says, hashtags should be used around a very specific conversation bounded by both topic and time - a conference or other event, for instance.
At the same time, a unique call to action can generate "awesome content" associated with a brand or product, Swope says. "Not only will your hashtag reach more people if attached to engaging content, but you'll also generate content that can be used across other platforms to make the story you're telling richer and more relevant to your audience."
While the general thrust of a hashtag is similar across all social media, the context in which these platforms are used should guide the most appropriate use. Facebook and Twitter both shared advice with CIO.com for the best use of hashtags on their respective platforms.
Hashtag Tips From Twitter
"Our core users are driven by three motivations: Self-expression, human connection and content discovery," says Twitter's Minero. "There's a continuum when you think about hashtags. You can plan for them. You can also do live social response."
Minero shares these four tips for Twitter hashtags:
- Don't force your brand name into a hashtag without good reason.
- Plan for negative feedback when you create a hashtag that invites users to share their stories. Try to shape the response with some parameters and provide examples to act as a springboard for stories.
- Be true to the core value of your brand. Think about the places it can play authentically.
- Embrace the notion of value exchange. Deliver users something worthwhile in return for engaging with your hashtag.
Hashtag Tips From Facebook
Facebook's Swope says using hashtags that are too long or complicated, or that change too frequently, "will hurt the volume of content you're able to generate and, therefore, the total reach of your campaign."
She identifies three best practices and strategies for hashtag use on Facebook:
- Simplicity is important. Your hashtag should be unique but also easy to remember and use.
- Consistency is key. In television, for example, establishing a hashtag at the beginning of the season and promoting the same hashtag throughout will allow the number of people who use it to grow.
- Consider a call to action and its many benefits. Generating interesting content can drive more engagement and eventually integrate back into your own content programming.
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