How Hashtags Can Kill Your Social Media Posts If Not Used Properly

Adding a bunch of hashtags to tweets and Linkedin posts doesn’t make a bad post suddenly become engaging, informative, or enjoyable. It just makes it a bad post with a bunch of hashtags.

Firstly, let’s deal with what a hashtag is? In short, a hashtag is a topic. More than that, as I’ve written before, a hashtag is a specific topic of conversation. It’s a group — be it 50 or 5000 people — talking about a particular topic, rather than just making a noise that can reach a wider number people. Note, I said “number of people”, not “audience”. There’s a big difference between the two.

This is how not to use hashtags:

A screenshot of an actual tweet

or like this…

A screenshot of an actual Linkedin post

not like this…

A screenshot of an actual Instagram post

These screenshots of actual social media posts (genuinely. I’ve not made these up), show how the hashtags are utterly meaningless and the posts are self-promotional. Although, technically, the Linkedin post is just a collection of words, rather than a engaging sentence, which makes it even worse.

Surely, at no point, does a content creator look at a piece of content and says to themselves “this is boring. I know what it needs, a lot of hashtags”. Do they?

So what does an audience see when they look at this? A message that’s engaging? inspirational? Empowering? OR do they see the same dull, self-promotional, self-interested message?

More people may see the posts, possibly. But, if so, only a few of them and they’ll be unlikely to do anything about them. So what’s the point? And if you repeat this social media “crime” time and time again, people will unfollow you. They also won’t care who you are, what you do, or talk about you to their network. Unless you’re featured in a post about how hashtags shouldn’t be used, that is. They’ll be that boring person at a party that everyone tries to avoid. Don’t be that person.

Don’t get me wrong, you should be allowed and comfortable to talk about your skills and achievements, but should also follow, for me, an 80/20 rule:

80%: Make is about your audience

20%: Make it about yourself

Just to be clear, I’m not against hashtags, far from it. Even in 2019, a good hashtag can drive (and be the centrepiece of ) an entire digital marketing campaign, such as #ShareACoke by Coca-Cola, #WeAccept by Airbnb, and (who can forget) the #IceBucketChallenge by the ALS Association.

Action Point

Focus on the quality of content, then use a relevant hashtag (if there is one to add) to be part of a specific conversation with more of your target audience.

Do you tend to use a lot of hashtags? What other examples have you seen where hashtags are over-used? Leave your comments below please as I love reading these.

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