Social Media Insight: Have You Become a Hash-Hole?

Social Media Insight: Have You Become a Hash-Hole?

December 2, 2015

By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

I love a good play on words, and I have to admit when I first saw the term hash-hole, I was definitely intrigued. This new slang term is defined in the Urban Dictionary as someone who has “poor quality posts combined with overuse of unhelpful hashtags.” As many retail RDs are actively engaged with Twitter, Instagram and other social sites as a part of their work to help shoppers live healthier lives, I felt it was an important topic for us to discuss here at RDBA. Here are five tips to prevent yourself from becoming an hash-hole by using #Too#Many#Hashtags.

  1. Keep your hashtags relevant. Today, there are 16 million photos on Instagram that include #the. Clearly this has no real meaning to followers or those you are trying to attract to your brand or message. Choose hashtags that are relevant to your content and brand. Hashtagify and Top-Hashtags are two great sites to identify trending hashtags. Review the option to identify those that fit within the story you are trying to tell.    
  2. Create custom hashtag. Whether you’re hosting Twitter parties, promoting in-store or community events, or are focused on a key topic each month to tie to your health and wellness editorial calendar, creating custom hashtags is a great way to track your unique ROI as well as to extend your brand image. When planning your hashtag strategy, choose unique options that reflect your brand. Consider shortening your tagline or company name so it’s easily shareable, and be consistent with it to allow your audience to follow. 
  3. Don’t be a newsjack. Newsjacking occurs when a brand or individual tries to steal top trending hashtags by attaching their brand message to it. The LA Lakers tried this, using #NeverForget (honoring 9/11) to bring attention to Kobe Bryant. This is a social faux pau and can create very negative buzz for your brand, your company or you as an individual. If you want to jump on a trending hashtag, create content that is relevant to both the hashtag and your message.
  4. Focus on quality, not quantity. This applies to both the number of posts as well as the number of hashtags. While RDs are continually charged to track and measure an ROI and social media reach can be a part of this, it’s essential in the long run to ensure content is relevant and value-based for your audience and your retailer. Avoid the temptation to just post updates for the sake of having content. Also, limit hashtags to just two or three per tweet. Any more than that and you’ll actually do more harm than good. Even if you host a Twitter chat that involves multiple brands, it’s essential to agree on a common hashtag vs. one for each brand.
  5. Keep it short. Hashtags that run on and on and try to communicate too much can suddenly take over your message. With just 140 characters, use the majority on your message and avoid wasting them on hashtags. It’s also important to avoid runningtoomanywordstogether in a hashtag as your followers will be forced to spend too much time figuring it out.

In summary, focus on providing valuable content and limiting yourself to a couple of relevant and popular hashtags. These simple changes will go a long way with your audience and will help you increase your Twitter engagement when done right.