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AHC on Social Media, Part 3: #Hashtags101

August 28, 2015

Organically developed on Twitter by its first power users, hashtags are now a ubiquitous tool on social media. They still have dominance on Twitter but are also used on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and many other networks. Hashtags are, most simply, a way for people to connect and search for tweets (or posts or pins…) that share a common topic. By instantly linking social media posts together, hashtags have helped fuel (and organize!) social media’s ability to disseminate breaking news with great efficiency, efficacy and engagement than ever before

The hashtag is a powerful and critical social media tool that should be a part of your strategy across all platforms. Proper use of branded and keyword tags will grow your community and your schools’ brand recognition.

The Basics

1. Although you can use multiple words, hashtags do not allow for spaces or punctuation.

Any easy way to make multiple word hashtags more readable is to capitalize each word such as #AllertonHillConsulting. Hashtags are not case sensitive so tags that are or are not capitalized will be included in the same search.

2. Hashtags can occur anywhere in your message – in context or as an addendum to your message.

Don’t forget tonight’s #MHSchoir concert in the Seewald Auditorium!

Sign up today to volunteer at our fall carnival. #helpwanted #MHSpride

3. Hashtags should be obvious, easy to remember and hard to misspell. This included watching out for adjoining ambiguous characters or using hashtags that are so similar to large brands that they will cause confusion and/or misdirection.

 

Hashtags 101 by Allerton Hill Consulting

How Are Hashtags Used?

1. Highlighting keywords for context and search results.

Connect with people who share your interests and who are invested in what you have to say. # to mark the word/phrase that is most important to your tweet/pin/post and when others click on it, they will be taken to a results page that shows other posts that have been hashtagged with the same term — and vice versa!

Think about the words that you want your community to use to find you — these are words that you will probably already be using in your social media. Hashtag these important terms to highlight and increase their impact.

2. Identify your brand – and help others align with you

You should create a hashtag that is applied to all official tweets to reflect your school’s brand. Typically initials or a school mascot/identity works best. Followers will take note and also use this hashtag when writing about events and issues important to your community.

#MHSpride #OPSpanthers #ParkwoodHS

You can also use this concept to create subgroups on your Twitter feed such as #MHSchoir or #igersohio (Ohio Instagrammers) to denote particular topics of interest within your district’s overall brand.

3. Promote Campaigns and Events, LiveTweet Events & Host TwitterChats

Taking hashtag-branding one step further, encourage the use of a particular hashtag to tie together tweets/photos/pins/posts that cover one particular event – #MHSBacktoSchoolPicnic – or that contribute to a crowdsourced campaign such as #MHSsummerphotos.

You can also livetweet an event by tying all posts together with a unique hashtag such as “#Parkwoodrelay4life”.

Superintendents should host monthly TwitterChats using a hashtag such as #AskDrSoandSo to field and answer questions from parents and community members.

4. Parenthetical Interjections

We really encourage schools to use social media to help humanize their staff and create emotional connections with their community. Using hashtags for their most casual purpose – asides and humor – can be tricky and takes nuance but also can help you get noticed in the onslaught of newsfeed posts. You can also participate in social meme conventions such as Throwback Thursday (#tbt) or create your own aside hashtags such as #gamefaceon or #FridayTreat or #PantherBookClub that can grow into regular “features” in your social media.

Best Practices

Find Your Hashtag Sweet Spot

Tweets that have 2-4 relevant hashtags yield 24% more engagement than tweets with no hashtags and 13% more engagement than tweets with 5+ hashtags. Moderation is key – hashtag to create context but don’t overfill your tweet with #hashtags or your #followers #will #stop #reading #or #worse #unfollow #you.

Don’t Spam Popular Hashtags

Just because a hashtag is trending doesn’t mean you should jump on the bandwagon for exposure. Only use relevant hashtags – and check out the context for a trending hashtag before using it. Many gaffes have been made by major brands who use a trending tag only to realize later that it was trending due to negative reasons such as a crime or natural disaster. Using non-relevant hashtags is one of the quickest ways to turn off and lose followers.

Double Check Your # for #Hidden #Meanings

If you are planning to use a hashtag to brand your district or an event/campaign, test it out first to see if there are any hidden or double meanings that could be offensive or confusing.

Follow Leaders in Your Industry

Learn by participating. Take note of the hashtags that other educational and communication leaders are using and incorporate them into your own posts.

Don’t Make Your Hashtag Too Broad to Track

Using the hashtag #school might seem obvious but it also is such a general term that it ends up being useless in monitoring engagement or garnering new followers. Focus on making hashtags unique and easy to remember.

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