6 Common Hashtagging Mistakes To Avoid

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Written by Luke Glassford

6 common hashtagging mistakes to avoid on social media

A widely relevant and vital part of a successful social media strategy is the use of hashtags. Unless you are a big brand with an organic audience, hashtagging (the right way) is the key to success.

For some, this can be both daunting and difficult. Consequently, many new businesses tend to avoid using hashtags altogether. This is a massive oversight and could cause your social media posts to lack reach and engagement, ultimately losing you potential new customers, so it is essential to understand how to use hashtags correctly.

Before even starting to use hashtags though, it is important to familiarise yourself with them and how each platform favours them. For example, they are used more frequently on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest than on Linkedin. That is not to say that you should not use them on Linkedin, but that you must understand how to use them effectively to maximise your return.

The main thing to remember is that you need to treat them as keywords to help promote your business. You should also look at your website content to align your hashtags with web copy and company offerings.

It is also essential to remember that while using hashtags correctly can infinitely boost your reach to new audiences, the poor use of hashtags can result in little to no results and prove to be a waste of time and energy.

The goal is to connect you with potential new customers and build an audience across multiple social media platforms to drive the business to your website or your physical premises.

So how do you make sure you are a success?

Here are a few common #hashtag mistakes to avoid with your social media posts.

6 Common #Hashtagging Mistakes

1. Using Generic/Overly Popular Hashtags

In theory, this should work and gain you more exposure; unfortunately, it does not always work that way. As a start-up or a small business, you will find quicker success using more niche and targeted hashtags.

If your hashtags are too generic they will get lost with millions of other posts and more prominent businesses or influencers will feature in the feeds of those following that particular hashtag.

Instead, it would be best if you found tags that are relevant to your business, industry, and goals. Think about who your target consumer is. Once you have your ideal customer in mind, search for hashtags you think they would use.

You also need to research your industry. Who are your main competitors, and what hashtags are they utilising? Would they also work for you? If the answer is yes, add them to your list, but if not, keep scrolling.

People also tend to forget about localised hashtags, which could be a grave mistake when trying to build a business within a local community. Search locally for businesses similar to yours and see what local councils and organisations are promoting. Can you also promote this to give you some free publicity indirectly? Likewise, if you are attending an event, promote the event across your social media feeds using locally curated hashtags. This is a great way to help build brand awareness locally and improve your brand visibility.

Finally, think about participating in national hashtag days for an added boost to your engagement. On some platforms, you will find things like #SmallBusinessSunday, #TransformationTuesday. #MondayMotivation and many, many more. Do any of these apply to you? If so, this is an easy way to promote your business more widely.

2. Not using a branded hashtag

Once you have decided on a brand name and identity, consider how you would like to promote yourself across social media.

When creating unique tags for your brand, a common mistake is to use the business name with a hashtag in front (e.g. #gambit). People hope that adding this sort of business hashtag to their posts will generate interest – but this approach is rarely successful.

A brand alone may not be strong enough to generate a lot of engagement, especially when starting out. Therefore, your branded hashtag needs to be exciting and stand out while remaining relevant (e.g. #GambitGrowth). Don't, however, go the other way and make hashtags too obscure, as people will never find you online.

If you are struggling, consider using a hashtag research tool (something like Hashtagify or Keyhole), as these generate ideas that could be useful. Try also to incorporate popular SEO keywords used on your website or other promotions, which will help with organic searches moving forward.

3. Failing to research hashtags

While overusing popular or trending hashtags may seem like the easy go-to solution when launching a new business,  it is important to research them ahead of time to ensure that they work for you and for the optimal growth of your business.

Don't take any hashtags at face value. Before using a particular hashtag, enter it into the platform’s search bar to see what else is coming up? Is it both relevant and not offensive? If the general message does not align with your brand's goals, do not use it.

Again, if you are floundering, there are tools out there that can help with this, including:

  • Ritetag - this lists all the popular hashtags on Twitter that are trending right now. You can also put in your keywords to see how they perform and any relevant hashtags you may wish to start using.
  • Tagboard - putting a keyword into their search engine will produce an aesthetically pleasing group of related hashtags you may want to try using.
  • Hashtags.org - is a simple site that provides further suggestions on related words to consider. Again, they may not all work for your brand, but this is an excellent way to keep content alive by switching hashtags around occasionally.

4. Overpopulating hashtags

In principle this sounds fantastic, but using too many tags can make your posts look cluttered and spammy, causing the platform algorithms to automatically decrease your visibility and reach.

Instead, think about the relevant keywords of your post and focus on using a good mix of local, industry and niche hashtags, while also using different ones for different posts. Also, be mindful that different platforms have different hashtag limits, and it's crucial to stay abreast of announcements for reducing or increasing this limit and making sure you know what the ideal is for each one.

As before, study your niche and see what is working for others, replicate it and see if it works for you. As with everything, remember it is about quality and not quantity. It is better to have five effective tags over thirty bad ones.

5. Adding irrelevant hashtags for “Likes”

As with everything you do, you want to attract the right audience for your business. There is no point in getting lots of likes on social media posts if it doesn't convert into business. You may appear popular, but it will not help your bank balance.

Likewise, if the hashtags you use are irrelevant it can negatively impact your brand and can damage your reputation. You will come across as a company that doesn't know what it is doing. It is important not to rush social media and take the time to find the right keywords.

On the flip side, avoid getting too comfortable with your hashtags. You should constantly research new ones, removing any that are no longer in use. You may also have the problem that while a hashtag is new, you receive a steady flow of visitors; however, as soon as that hashtag becomes overused, feeds become saturated, and you could get lost again.

Therefore, do not get lazy. You need to analyse how successful your hashtags are and get rid of those that are not working for you.

Think about your own social media habits. Do you get bored on Instagram and start looking at new topics to follow? Everyone does, so to remain relevant your brand must keep up with trends and change tags when appropriate.

6. Using the same hashtags on each platform

It may sound like the right thing to do - consistency in business, after all, is vital. However, when it comes to hashtags, it’s not a case of one size fits all.

Some hashtags will have better reach on different platforms, while failing to perform on other platforms. You need to think about what type of audience uses each platform and create a list of keywords that would work for them. This is not always easy, but that is why the analytics tools for each platform are so important, as they will tell you who your audience is and their interests.

Finally, it is essential to remember that hashtags should not take away from the content you are posting. The images, links, and captions must be consistent with the message you are trying to convey.

Want to know more about how Gambit Partners can help your business develop and implement an effective social media strategy? Book a complimentary consultation call today:

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Written by

Luke Glassford

Marketing Director at Gambit Partners