#Hashtag #Is #It #Friday #Yet #?

 Allison Lu is a Program Manager with Social@Ogilvy Washington 

This week, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake posted a YouTube video skit that showed us what a Twitter conversation sounds like in real life. If you haven’t watched it, watch it. It is hilarious. Nowadays we see so many savvy social media users using #hashtags on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare,etc. But is it too much? Are we entering the era of #hashtag #overload?

Just to refresh our memories, hashtags originated on Twitter as a way to categorize a topic, theme or issue and that other people can then associate themselves and join in the conversation using the same #hashtag. It’s often part of the tweet and makes it easy to follow a conversation. However, some users are cramming in five or six or seven hashtags and it makes it look pretty messy and comes off as spam. Nobody wants that.

Individuals and companies have been taking advantage of hashtags to build and cultivate their own communities around a particular topic. But what makes a useful hashtag on Twitter and how do you get people to use it?

Here are a couple quick tips from Social@Ogilvy hashtag pros:

1. Make it relevant to the subject matter.
The key to using hashtag is being mindful of why you’re using it and its relevance to the online conversation. If people don’t understand what the hashtag means, then they probably won’t use it. It should be relevant to the to the subject matter and your audience.

2.  Simple and unique are best. 
A hashtag should be short; 10 characters or less is recommended. Create a unique hashtag for your Twitter conversation, so it’s easy for search.

3. Keep it memorable and focused.
Keep the hashtag focused to the keywords and topics of what you want the community to discuss so it will make it useful and more widely used.
Make the hashtag memorable, catchy and easy to remember. Don’t overdo the hashtagging. Keep it consistent throughout your campaign and stick with it.

4. Expand the reach by putting the Twitter hashtag on all marketing platforms.
To gain momentum outside of Twitter, you should put the hashtag on all marketing channel; both online and offline. This will expose the message to people who are not apart of your existing fan base on Twitter. Also, by adding paid promotion with exposure on multiple media channels, you have a much higher chance of increasing the total reach of your hashtag campaign.

5. Take advantage of trending hashtags and join in the conversation.
You should research other trending hashtags relevant to the subjective matter that are being currently used and join in that conversation. Not only are you providing more valuable content to their conversation, you are also promoting your own hashtag to that community. Remember, Twitter is a community of real-time conversation, don’t just do all the talking at the party. Listen and join in.

6. Make use of the hashtag for events.
Hashtags are perfect for events. Make sure you tell people to use it before, during and after the event to create a buzz.

So before you overload on hashtags on your social media platforms and campaign, think first—what is the real purpose? Is it sending the right message? Are you getting the right audience to be part of the conversation? If it serves no purpose, then leave the characters at home.