As a marketing professional, I’m sometimes in social settings with friends and questions come up … some that I get all the time. The last time I was at a friend’s house for a cookout, someone asked “what’s a hashtag? … other than the annoying long phrase at the end of someone’s post?” Well in this blog post, we will explore what a hashtag is and best practices.

Wikipedia defines a hashtag as a word or phrase that is prefixed with the symbol #, aka the pound or number sign. A hashtag is used as a search tool so you can follow brands or events that you’re interested in and if used correctly they can even build awareness and business for your company.

Here are some tips for hashtags:

Have a goal for your campaign. Clearly define your goal and what is it you are trying to accomplish? Are you promoting an event, launching a new product, generating buzz for a movement or starting a conversation around a certain topic?

Keep it simple. Most people find long hashtags hard to remember and annoying, and they will be less likely to use it. Be obvious. And don’t over tag your tweets. In my opinion when I’m reading posts, over two = too many hashtags.

Research. Sites like http://www.hashtag.net and http://www.hashtags.org will help and see other helpful tools on this blog: http://www.marketingtechblog.com/hashtag-research-tools/.

So many hashtags are used, make sure yours stands out.

Register your hashtag. http://twubs.com

Engage with users. Respond and retweet to customers using the hashtag. And engage your customers throughout the campaign or event.

Don’t forget to announce the official hashtag at an event or conference to get the conversation started or for people following the event on twitter that can’t be present.

Reward. For example: if someone uses your hashtag during your event they could be entered to win a prize. It’s an easy incentive if someone is already posting on instagram during your event anyway.

Use on other social media platforms. Hashtags are searchable on twitter, facebook, instagram, pinterest, vine, tumblr and Google+. Here’s a great article on Why use hashtags on Facebook: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-hashtag-marketing/

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