5 Common Hashtag Mistakes to Avoid

By Ashley Orndorff, aka Marketing Geek pile of white hashtags with one red hashtag

Using hashtags correctly on social media can help your posts reach more people and get more engagement. They can also help you connect with new potential customers and build your audience across social platforms while driving traffic to your website. But, there are a lot of ways hashtags can go wrong. Here are a few common hashtag mistakes to avoid to help improve your social media posts:

Mistake #1 – Not Researching Hashtags First

Using trending or popular hashtags in your posts can be a good tactic that helps you reach more people. In fact, it’s one of the social media ideas for nonprofits and other businesses. But, you do want to make sure you do some research first, so you know it’s a relevant hashtag for your business and that it’s not going to turn you into a brand hashtag fail.

Not only is this one of the social media etiquette tips for businesses, but it’s also a good practice than can help you avoid a serious social media snafu. Hashtags become popular for a variety of reasons and you may not always be able to understand the meaning of them by just looking at the hashtag alone.

There are plenty of hashtags that may look relevant, straightforward, or innocent at face value. But, when you check into how they are being used, it turns out they are dealing with more serious issues or aren’t that innocent at all.

The meanings of hashtags can also evolve over time and they can be co-opted, so it’s not a bad idea to periodically check to make sure your staple hashtags still mean the same thing.

Mistake #2 – Using Too Many Hashtags

Another one of the common hashtag mistakes is using too many of them. Yes, the right hashtags can help your post stand out and reach more people. However, using too many hashtags makes your post look clunky and spammy. It can also decrease the reach of your posts and increase the chances that you’re adding irrelevant stuff.

When it comes to SEO best practices, keyword stuffing on your website doesn’t work and can hurt you. Hashtag stuffing is a similar concept. It doesn’t work on social media either and can also hurt your efforts. Instead of trying to fit as many hashtags into your post as you can, focus on a few of the main related topics in your post and add a few hashtags related to them.

Using the right mix of hashtags on your posts can help you get more Instagram followers and increase your audience on other platforms. So, it’s worth a little effort to use the right ones and to include the right balance of them in your posts.

Mistake #3 – Adding Irrelevant Hashtags

Adding hashtags to your social media posts can help make them better. This is one of the tips to write better Instagram captions that you can use as you craft posts for other social platforms. But, you want to make sure any hashtags you use are relevant to the content of your post and also make sense for your business to use.

As with content on your website and other marketing efforts, it’s important to be speaking to your audience in a way that resonates with them. Your message needs to be relevant to them and it needs to be something they will care about. On social media, part of that is making sure whatever hashtags you use make sense.

Irrelevant hashtags can come across as shady, spammy, dishonest, etc. At the very least, you’ll look like you don’t know what you’re doing. At the worst, you could end up with a poor brand perception and potentially an online reputation management problem.

Mistake #4 – Ignoring Capitalization When Your Hashtag is More Than One Word

Hashtags can be one word or they can contain a few words. If your hashtag contains a single word, you don’t need to worry about whether it is capitalized. However, if your hashtag contains multiple words, it’s a good idea to capitalize the first letter of each one.

Not only does this help people who see the post understand the hashtag better and more quickly, but it also helps to make your social media posts more accessible. If each word in your hashtag is capitalized, a screen reader will read it as separate words instead of attempting to string it together as one word.

Web accessibility is important and this small effort ensures that people who are using screen readers are able to access and understand the descriptions and captions you include in your social media posts.

Mistake #5 – Using the Same Strategy on Every Platform

Although most social media platforms use hashtags now, it doesn’t mean you should approach them the same across all platforms. Hashtags that are popular and get you engagement on Instagram may not be the best ones for Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

There are probably some big, broad hashtags that will work well for you on multiple platforms. And, you do want to spend time finding the best hashtags for Instagram and other platforms. But, you want to be looking into that and making sure you’re using hashtags the way they’re meant to be used on a specific platform and a number of them that is normal for that platform.

Plus, this helps you use the best hashtags for your business and content on a specific platform. Not only does this help you avoid potential issues with changes in meaning across platforms, but it can also help you boost engagement for your posts on that platform.

These are just a few common hashtag mistakes to avoid. Keeping them in mind and out of your social media posts can help protect your brand and potentially save you from a social media brand fail or reputation issue.

Social media is usually used to increase brand awareness, connect with people, and also drive traffic to your website. But, if your website is outdated or has issues, it could be turning people away and leaving your marketing efforts high and dry.

If your website is outdated or underperforming, contact us for a meeting of the MINDs. We can help you get your website back on track and performing for your business!

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