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Avoid the hashtag ‘sins’ that can be damaging to your business

If you are part of the ever expanding social media platform that is Twitter, it is an almost certainty that you will have come across the hashtag (stylised as #).

If you haven’t, a hashtag is simply a way to mark keywords in a tweet and encourage people to join in the discussion.

For example you could use a hashtag to promote an event – #BusinessMeet2013 – or to draw attention to an important topic – #UKEconomicCrisis.

However, many businesses are guilty of falling foul to the hashtag ‘sins’. Here you can find out what these are and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

  • #IrrelevantHashtags

There is no harm in using already popular hashtags in your tweets in order to reach a wider audience and create a buzz around your business, but the hashtag needs to be relevant to you.

If you’re tweeting about marketing use a marketing related hashtag. If you’re tweeting about food use a food related hashtag.

Piggybacking off trending hashtags that bear no relevance to the subject matter you are tweeting about will end up annoying people which can lead to your business being branded as a spammer.

  • #NotResearchingYourHashtag

Whilst it can be beneficial to use popular hashtags as a way to boost your business, you should always research the hashtag first.

Online shop CelebBoutique was the victim of Twitter backlash last year when they used a trending hashtag to promote their ‘Aurora’ dress. What the company didn’t realise is that #Aurora was trending because of a shooting that occurred in a cinema in Aurora, Colorado.

CelebBoutique quickly posted an apology but by then the company had been branded insensitive with many Tweeters even calling for a boycott of the online shop.

Researching a hashtag before you use it will help keep your reputation intact.

  • #Putting #Hashtags #On #Every #Single #Word

#Making #Every #Word #A #Hashtag #Makes #Your #Tweet #Hard #To #Understand #And… okay, you get the point.

Putting a hashtag at the front of every word will end up annoying your followers and can detract attention from your overall marketing message.

Keep your hashtags to a maximum of two per tweet and don’t hashtag words just for the sake of it.

Sometimes key words turn out better results when searched without the hashtag and, honestly, how many people are going to search for generic words such as #what or #your?

  • #NotCapitalisingWordsInTheHashtag

This may seem like a trivial point, but capitalisation of the words in your hashtag can make a world of difference.

Not only will it make your hashtag easier to read, it can also prevent embarrassing hashtag mishaps when strung together words take on a completely different meaning.

For example the hashtag that was launched at the end of last year to promote Susan Boyle’s upcoming album party was: #susanalbumparty.

The people of Twitter were quick to ridicule the unfortunate wording of this hashtag but this disaster could have been avoided completely with some simple capitalisation in the first place – #SusanAlbumParty

  • #MakingYourHashtagSoLongItsPractically140CharactersItself

When adding a hashtag to your tweet keep it short. Don’t hashtag entire sentences as this will make it harder for your followers to understand and can easily be misspelled by others attempting to use the hashtag in their own tweets.

Say what you need to say within your tweet and don’t waste space with lengthy hashtags.

Instead use them to summarise your tweet or encourage people to get involved in the discussion.

For example, if you are promoting a new product via Twitter you could hashtag the product name to generate interest and get people talking about it.

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Purplex Marketing is a full-service marketing agency serving the construction, building products, property and home improvement industries. Launched in 2004, Purplex began as a strategic consultancy, and has grown to offer traditional and web integrated marketing services.

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