Cartoon illustration of super hashtag standing with cape

When you’re using social media, after a minute or two, you’ll no doubt be inundated by what feels like millions of hashtags. And it’s no surprise; after all, when used correctly, they can help you greatly expand your audience, join in topical conversations, help you keep track of events, and stand out from the crowd, when you create your own.

You will need to exercise them with caution though, as if used incorrectly, they can do more harm than good. Here are the ultimate do’s and don’ts for using a hashtag on social media.

DO make sure you’re using the right one

Most importantly, you need to make sure you’re using the right hashtag if you’re live tweeting from events, talks or conferences. Find out the official event hashtag before you go or at least before you get out your phone. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes and that you’re sticking with one variation.

DON’T hashtag for the sake of it

Hashtagging every word is really bad social media practise, and can make you appear like you’re spamming your audience for new followers. Instead, select up to three for each tweet and leave it at that. Check out keywords that are highly engaged with on the likes of Twitter so that you use relevant, and really useful hashtags to start gaining some great connections.

DO keep an eye on trending hashtags

You should spend time each day checking out the most popular topics that are being talked about, and evaluate whether your business has an interesting or unique perspective on it. That way, you can include the trending hashtag to reach a wider audience.

DON’T use hashtags that aren’t relevant to your business

That being said, don’t use hashtags that have absolutely nothing to do with your business, industry or values. People will see this for what it is – jumping on trends in the attempt to find new followers. Unless you can find a useful way to talk about a trending topic, don’t.

DO create your own

Creating your own hashtags is a great way to keep track of people talking about you and your business, and it’s a great way to help you stand out from the crowd. Think about events, competitions or internal stuff you’ve got going on that you can turn into a great, catchy hashtag.

DON’T make them complicated

It’s really important that you keep these hashtags short, concise and clear to read. If they’re too complicated and long, people will get lost and lose interest – and above all, won’t use them. Especially on sites like Twitter where the character count is very low.