Hashtag etiquette

Hashtag etiquette

Not sure what the etiquette is around hashtags? Style's Riria Taukamo and Lucy Stephens reveal their top 5 tips.

By Lucy Stephens | 2nd September 2014

By Riria Taukamo and Lucy Stephens

It’s easy to get swept away in the hype of social media.

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat is evolving as a way to generate sales for both services and products. It’s a unique and easy way of building a following, engaging with your customer base, and gauging what they like - and don’t like.

It’s all very well to be impromptu on your personal account but when it comes to business and social media, your content needs to be well-researched and strategic, and needs to align with your company’s branding and message. Businesses work hard to gain a follower and get disheartened when their dedicated efforts result in an ‘unfollow’ or ‘unlike’.  And if they choose to ‘unlike’ you, you can be left wondering what the reasons are behind it.

One of the common mistakes that businesses are making in today’s social media world is the violation of the hashtag. How often have you seen businesses swarm their comments section with a bevy of hash tags that are there purely as a ploy to get more followers? An act of desperation perhaps? or an uninformed way of implementing them into their business?

Whatever the reason, Style loves a good hash tag (or two or three – not too many!) and we want fellow businesses and influencers to be educated on how to use them, when to use them and watch their social media grow with valid leads from their target market.

Style Digital’s top 5 hashtag rules

1. Do your research.
Spend some time researching trending hashtags that are of relevance to your business, products and services. There is no point creating hashtags that aren’t used regularly by other users of social media – unless they’re incredibly witty. You want your posts to be seen, especially by your target market.

Research what influential people are using, and incorporate your local area into your hashtag to reach your audience.  Look into hashtag categories that showcase your images and comments to people who are LIKELY to buy from your business opposed to the social media world as a whole, and pick at least one strong hashtag that you use in most of your posts.

At Style, we like to use #lovestyle in all of our promotions, competitions, posts and this is also used by our followers when they wish to interact with us.  This creates a database of images that we and our readers can refer to time and time again.

If you need some help researching hashtags, check out sites like RiteTag and Tagboard.

2. Use humorous hashtags - if they're funny.
How often have you found yourself giggling at someone’s clever hashtag? These can generate a response on their own, and may even lead to others also hashtag.  Remember that everybody has their own sense of humour, what you find entertaining may not be to another so keep it tasteful and relevant.

3. Hashtag sharing to other social media platforms.
We are all guilty of it. Clicking the share button so our well thought out post on Instagram is shared directly to Facebook and Twitter. What you may not know is that the compatibility for a hashtag varies from platform to platform and what you think is a ‘time saving’ phenomenon is actually an inconvenience to your social media following.

Always amend your own content before re-posting. Keep one or two hashtags for marketing purposes and if you have time alter the text slightly as well. If the same followers are accessing your messages through your various accounts, they don’t want to be bombarded with the exact same thing.

4. The magic number of hashtags.
Try not to get overwhelmed with the vast amount of hashtags! If in doubt – go without. The worst thing you can do is overuse them.

So what’s the magic number? The acceptable number of hashtags to use differs between each of the channels.

According to recent studies done by data analysis agencies and the Social Media companies themselves, up to 5 hashtags are perfectly acceptable on Instagram, Twitter posts with two hashtags receive the most engagement, while one – or even none – is optimal for Facebook.

The different types of privacy settings available through Facebook may also prevent you from engaging with all of your fan base – or from them engaging with you.

5. Location, location. Too often we see businesses include hashtags all throughout their content, which can detract them from the message you are trying to deliver. It’s a novice mistake to swap out words for hash tags which really have no relevance to the content at all. It becomes a deciphering mission and if your anything like us, you just don’t have time.

Keep hash tags to the end of your post so they’re more of a ‘parting goodbye’.

Good luck!

Some of our favourite hashtags


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Article by Lucy Stephens

Lucy Stephens is a Senior Digital Journalist and Content Strategist at Style Magazines. She's a travel addict, considers gelato an appropriate meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner (salted caramel, preferably), and suffers from a moderate to severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out).


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