Used throughout social media to help users connect around similar interests, hashtags are common in online conversations as tweets, posts, and likes. Every day we see public social media posts for schools that contain them. Some schools do it well. Others could you use a hand to prevent their efforts from getting lost in the digital ocean, or inadvertently introduce ones used by other organizations. Learn how your schools could hashtag like pros with the five tips below.
Twitter defines them as keywords or phrases used to describe a topic or a theme. Users insert hashtags in their tweets to categorize them; making it easy for others to find and follow the conversation. To form one, place the hash symbol, #, (some of us pre-internet people may remember it as the pound or number sign) before the word or phrase you want to associate with your post.
Sprout Social provides the following rules for impactful hashtag use:
- If you’re using hashtags for their intended purpose (categorization and discovery), don’t string too many words together with a single hashtag.
- Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Avoid over-tagging a single post or adding them to every word.
- Use hashtags only when they’re relevant to the topic. Trying to get attention by using a mismatch between the content of your post and hashtag use won’t do you any favors if people are annoyed.
Those are the basics. Now let’s focus on stepping up your school’s social game.
Tip 1: #AppealLocally
Remember, millions of hashtags circulate every day. Specificity and creativity help cut through the masses of posts mounting up globally. When selecting yours, add identifiers that resonate with your audience. Rather than #vikingpride, locally relevant choices like #gowestvillevikes appeal to your schools’ online community.
Tip 2: #GetCreative
Hashtags can’t be reserved or protected. Anyone who wants to can copy and add yours to their public post. The more creative and unique you get while crafting your hashtags, the more likely you’ll be able to retain them for your educational community’s information.
Tip 3: #ResearchResearchResearch
Take a few moments to check your selected hashtags against the social media platforms you use. Each platform’s search option gives you immediate visibility of any existing instances of your hashtags. Ideally, you want to use ones that are fresh and new. Simply type in the hashtags you’re considering and see if they’re already in use.
Tip 4: #SpreadTheWord
If you want students, staff, and families to use the hashtags, you must promote them. Incorporate yours into everything you post. Include them in community-facing publications, so readers know how to follow the conversations. List them all on your website for easy reference. If needed, educate your social followers when and where to engage with each hashtag.
- #gowestvillevikeseatdaily - Used daily to announce the cafeteria menu.
- #gowestvillevikessports - Used daily to communicate any athletic department news
- #gowestvillevikesbreakaleg - Used to communicate theater group news
Tip 5: #BeConsistent
Regularly attaching the same hashtags encourages adoption--and use--from your social community. In time, your hashtags will become part of the schools’ everyday discussion. You can track how well they’re performing by repeating the search from Tip 3 above.
Once the hashtags have been in use for some time, look them up and scan through the interactions people have with them. Perhaps an adjustment is needed to make them more appealing. Maybe they got picked up by another conversation. Learn from the review and make adjustments. Just be sure to educate your online followers when you make changes.