Social Studies: How to Use #Hashtags

For a word only added to the dictionary in May 2014, the hashtag has really blown up.

Definition in Merriam-Webster dictionary: “A word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet).”

Translation: A categorical tag represented by the pound sign that allows you to insert yourself into conversations happening across social media, become more relevant and be discovered by other users.

How it helps you:

  • Exposure—You know who searches by tag on Instagram? Potential clients, potential employers and even MODERN SALON. If you’re tagging your best balayage with #balayage and someone in your area is looking for a stylist with hair-painting expertise, you’re much more likely to pull in more clients.
  • Branding—Create your own hashtag that your clients can use when they snap a selfie after their appointment. That way, when people search for your personalized hashtag, they’ll see work from your own Twitter, Instagram or Facebook accounts along with the work your clients have curated for you—like magic!

According to Jay York, senior digital marketing strategist for EMSI Public Relations, your goal on social media sites, such as Twitter and Instagram, should be to become part of the conversation and allow people to  find your profiles. Hashtags allow you to be seen beyond the number of dedicated followers you have.

  • Use proprietary hashtags. “One of the advantages to a proprietary hashtag, such as Orange is the New Black’s hashtag #OITNB, is that it is linked directly to your brand,” York says. Use your name or salon name as a hashtag and encourage clients to tag their selfies so others can  find your work.
  • Think geographically. “If you are a local company that depends mainly on local clientele, a hashtag that links to your location works well,” York says. “Hashtags such as #Seattle or #Bangor drop you into numerous conversations about your hometown.”

Kelly Ehlers, social media expert and founder of Ideas that Evoke marketing and PR firm, notes that hashtags connect brands—including your own personal brand—to audiences in a big way, but there are a few things to avoid.

  • Runaway hashtags. People lose interest fast; stick to one to three hashtags relevant to your topic and purpose.
  • Broken hashtags. Tagging #every #other #word is #confusing to readers. See what we mean?
  • Run-on hashtags. Keep tags short and sweet—no more than three words. Otherwise, they’re messy and difficult to read.
  • #FollowForFollow. Your three to four rows of soliciting follows and likes makes your relevant audience want to do exactly the opposite.


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