Twitter came up with hashtags as an easy way for users to keep track of people and topics they want to follow. Now you’ll find hashtags on almost every social network, but they’re not magic bullets to marketing success. In fact, they can have just the opposite effect for businesses. Try to avoid these 7 major hashtag mistakes:

1. Making hashtags too long. A tweet is only 140 characters. If you want people to include your hashtag in their tweets, keep the hashtag short and sweet.

2. Not checking to see if people are already using a hashtag. Do a search on Twitter. If the hashtag you want to use is super popular, change it. You don’t want a pile of tweets from people you don’t need to reach. You also don’t want to get into trouble by using a hashtag for something you don’t want to be connected to.

3. Adding your hashtag to unrelated tweets. Do this and Twitter could filter your account from search or even suspend it. This tactic doesn’t work because you’re not getting your tweets to the right people, you’re just spamming a hot topic. People recognize this and just don’t engage.

4. Packing your tweets with hashtags. Avoid the temptation to put every relevant hashtag into a tweet. A recent study said posts with two hashtags get the highest percentage of retweets, but that drops with three or more hashtags. Your target audience only wants to join relevant conversations, so pick one or two hashtags that connect best to the content of the tweet.

5. Piggybacking onto a popular but sensitive hashtag. Don’t use hashtags for hot negative news stories to promote yourself. People do this hoping to get more notice. They do, but for the wrong reasons. This can cause backlash and outrage.

6. Not looking at how your hashtag could be negatively used. Sarcasm can explode on Twitter. So consider how a hashtag could be used against you before you put a campaign around it. Think about negative ways your hashtag could be spun to generate negative tweets about your brand or event. Always run your hashtags by someone outside your business. This could save you serious future embarrassment.

7. Promoting your hashtag only on Twitter. You’re using a hashtag to boost engagement with your brand and/or awareness about an event, so make sure people know your hashtag exists. Promote it in all the related marketing materials and channels you use.

Hashtags can be a great tool for marketing your business. Just remember to use hashtags strategically – and avoid these common mistakes. Here’s to your continued success gaining followers and clients, as you keep putting together your best year ever…. Enjoy a great month!

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