The hashtag is a remarkable tool for today’s social communicator. It enables conversations, segmentation, organization and analysis. It is a pulse-taker and star-maker. If your hashtag trends, that means something today. Social capital has never been captured so perfectly in 140 characters.

So how come so many B2B brands get hashtags wrong? Why do they, pardon me, #fail?

Like any other tool, hashtags need to be used when appropriate. They need to be used as part of a broader strategy that will benefit your brand with key audiences, and generate a positive outcome. It sounds simple, but history is littered with hashtag disasters that your brand doesn’t want to repeat.

Here are three Dos and Don’ts to consider when creating a hashtag for your brand:

1. DO: Research

When developing a social strategy that includes unique hashtags, research the hashtags your brand wants to use to tell your story. Read the hashtag in all uppercase, all lowercase and a combination of the two to ensure your meaning won’t be lost.

DON’T: Publish without review

The people responsible for #susanalbumparty are kicking themselves right now. #nowthatcherisdead should also serve as a cautionary tale for marketers. What began as a tribute to Margaret Thatcher (“Now Thatcher is dead”) was quickly misread by thousands of Twitter users as “Now that Cher is dead,” causing a wave of memorial tweets for the singer.


2. DO: Make it Relevant to Your Brand

Creating a unique hashtag that reflects your brand should be the goal of any business on social media. Consider shortening your company name, a well-known tagline or product into a hashtag that is easily shareable. Use it frequently and tie it to promotions, and your audience will follow. Tim Horton’s recently had excellent success with its #Tims50th hashtag campaign.

DON’T: Newsjack

Newsjacking occurs when a brand or person tries to ‘jack’ the top trends on Twitter or Facebook by attaching their brand message to it. It worked great for Oreo at the Superbowl but more often than not, newsjacking is considered a shallow attempt at promoting your brand with irrelevant audiences. Avoid alienating your followers with off-message hashtags like the ones below.

image - JR #bestpractices


3. DO: Use one or two hashtags

Keep your messages focused and on point by using only one or two hashtags per communication. This clearly defines your vision and brand with your audience.

DON’T: #Use #Too #Many #Hashtags

The overuse of hashtags is a common problem. Brands think of every possible combination of key (and buzz) words that users may type into a search engine, and attach all of them to their messages. In addition to being confusing, this also has a clear, negative effect on engagement.

graph - JR #bestpractices

Source: Statista

Finding out when, and how, to use hashtags – especially for a B2B company – is often difficult.

But that’s where experts and agencies come in to help. We are able to share our expertise with you to determine a strategy – including hashtags – that works for your brand.

Do you have a favourite hashtag to share?  Leave a comment below.


About Jennifer Rideout

As Senior Consultant at StrategicAmpersand Inc., Jennifer works closely with clients in the IT industry to provide effective, timely and relevant communications, social and media relations support.

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