hashtagsAnyone want to take a guess at the most popular hashtag of all time?

No need.

I’ll just tell you.

The hashtag #NowPlaying has been used more than one billion times on Twitter.

Not what I would have guessed, would you? I was thinking it had to be something such as #StarWars.

Although, to be fair, #StarWars is the most popular movie hashtag of all time, so I get some credit for that.

The hashtag itself has been around since 2007 and was originally used as a grouping method on Twitter.

Its uses have evolved over the years, spreading to other platforms like Instagram, where it has now surpassed Twitter in popularity.  These days I don’t even blink when I see a hashtag used anywhere.

My friends even do it jokingly in texts. (#Nerds)

The use of hashtags became so popular at one point, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake went all in making fun of people who overused them. (Let’s be honest. The amount being used in one post was ridiculous.)

But what about you?

When used strategically, they can give your marketing a boost and when the lovely Laura Petrolino suggested something around the symbol-formerly-known-as-pound for the #SpinSucksQuestion, I didn’t hesitate.

Do you incorporate hashtags into your social media strategy? What are some brands that you think use hashtags really well?

And I never doubted for one second I would get some awesome answers from our Spin Sucks community.

Hashtag Abuse: A Crime

Deirdre Lopian, a pro in social media marketing and also my possible spirit animal, mainly wants hashtag abuse to stop. Oh, and she totally knows her stuff when it comes to all things social media related.

Hashtags work best on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.  When used correctly, they are one of the most useful tools on in social media marketing. What is correctly? Aligning hashtags with the post.  When I post social media tips on Insta & Twitter I will use #SocialMediaMarketing and #SocialMediaMarketingTips. Every marketing campaign should have a hashtag so you can:

1. Follow the conversation

2. Listen, Monitor and Measure the conversations. I also follow hashtags such as #socialmediamarketing on Insta & LinkedIn to keep up with the latest news, tips, and trends in my industry, or I am following brands, such as #SpinSucks.

One in every 10 hashtags is abused. We can help stop this horrific crime by not piggy-backing off current trending hashtags for visibility. This is an amateur marketing move and can result in a PR blunder (research the #Aurora incident). Using popular, yet non-relevant hashtags to your post is a no-no. Do not #Foodie on a post that is about your client’s new medical service. You affect your authenticity and this could result in unfollows or your audience “hiding” your post. This abuse of hashtags has to stop.You are only hurting your brand, confusing your social reach and acquiring bot follows.

#IceBucketChallenge is one of my favorite case studies for brands using hashtags effectively!

Who Does it Best?

Chris Abraham said he sees a significant difference in the amount of people who use hashtags on Instagram versus other platforms.

I have been doing the same sort of Influencer Marketing and ORM classes at Georgetown for Shashi Bellamkonda at Georgetown for well over a decade now. Like clockwork. While I am no Christopher S. Penn that’s for sure, I am surely amusing and entertaining and I give til it hurts. A decade ago, people would both live tweet and they would also use the class-associated hashtag. Nobody does that anymore. I mean, Insta is all about the hashtags. Maybe political and black twitter uses hashtags, but I don’t see them all the time anymore. Insta allows you to actually follow hashtags. I like that. I have a little handmade pistol and I can follow everyone else that has one who posts it on Twitter if they tag it #seecamp–I like that. But nobody uses hashtags on LinkedIn or on Facebook. It signifies the worst sort of cross-posting. This is just my two cents.

User Generated Content + Hashtags = 4Ever

Jessi Adler thinks they work best for user-generated content.

Hashtags work great for companies using UGC…it’s a way to track and then use/share that content as part of a larger content strategy. I know our university does that, as well as the women’s athletic company that I’m an ambassador for. The company tracks all our IG posts using specific hashtags and then uses our photos as part of their marketing efforts.

Ebony Vaz at Above Promotions uses them for specific clients, and even then, sparingly.

We have always used them sparingly with clients. Typically 2-3 if and when we use them. However, these days, we may select 1 per post and depending on if we are targeting just existing followers or looking for new ones, we may skip using them. For example, if a client has a change in their holiday or regular business hours, there is no reason to put a hashtag on the post.

How Do You Use Hashtags?

Now it’s your turn. If you didn’t get a chance to answer in Spin Sucks community on Slack this week, let me know in the comments. If you aren’t part of the community yet, what the heck are you waiting for? It’s free and we’re awesome.

Let’s hear it. The floor is yours.


Whitney Danhauer

Whitney is living in Central Kentucky with her husband, Michael and her daughter, Evie Rose. She's an avid reader, an even more avid movie watcher, and loves nothing more than a well-placed pop culture reference. By day she writes about all things communications for Spin Sucks, by night she writes about whatever she wants. Her first novel, Good Riddance, was released in October of 2015.

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