Hashtags are over, have you heard? Brand after brand after brand has tried and failed to capture the public’s interest with unique hashtags; since that hasn’t worked, we’re told, it’s time to abandon the humble hashtag.
But what if the hashtag’s not dead? Perhaps the hashtag is simply misunderstood. Rather than trying to create one’s own hashtag, it may be that there’s more value in making strategic use of hashtag conventions created by others.
Krystal Overmayer, author of the linked article above, points out that hashtags work well as self-referential humor. Being able to make your customer laugh is no small thing: humor creates positive associations between the viewer and the brand, and is memorable. Neither of these are bad things when you’re trying to strengthen an ongoing relationship. If you’ve got the space to add a funny hashtag to your tweet, it’s worth a try, particularly if humor is in alignment with your brand identity.
Another way to make use of hashtags is to reference an event, such as #Oscars or #SB50. The key here is to be strategic. Some events are so huge that it’s almost guaranteed your hashtagged post will be lost in the crowd. When Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar, it generated 440,000 Tweets per minute – talk about overwhelming. Consider a hyper-local approach to your events-related hashtag; while being part of the Oscars conversation may be a lost cause, using the hashtag of a nearby festival or sports game may capture interest of a relevant audience.
It’s important to remember that hashtags have different values on different platforms. While Twitter uses hashtags as part of the conversation, on Pinterest and Facebook they’re seen much more as search tools. Instagram occupies a unique space: hashtags are used both to facilitate search and as a vehicle for commentary. Understanding how hashtags work on a given platform can impact your content strategy: posts without any hashtags on Twitter receive 23% more engagement, while posts without any hashtags on Instagram are virtually invisible. Do your research and proceed accordingly!