Paid media | 31/08/2018

Don’t make a hash of it: a quick guide to hashtags

Posted by Lawrence Greenlee

The humble hashtag, an effective tool to promote your brand, grow your following and increase engagement. It’s a force for good in social media marketing, so how can it go so wrong?

When used correctly, a hashtag is a great way to get your content in front of more people and can also help brand your business. By creating a branded hashtag, you can help your customers follow the latest promotions and stay updated with your newest content. They’re also a helpful way to track competitions and find out what people are saying about your brand.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Use a hashtag, get more exposure and help you audience find out more about your brand. But be warned, it doesn’t always go to plan!

These examples show how important it is to carefully consider the hashtag you want to use, before sending out into the world wide web:


Remember when Susan Boyle was looking to promote her new album and picked up attention for the unfortunate hashtag rather than her musical talents?

What can we learn from this? Capitalise the first letter of each word to make it easy for users to read (and avoid creating a new meaning for your hashtag). Write the hashtag down first to see how it looks and try to play around with the words to see how they look together.


Burger King used this hashtag to promote a new low fat french fry. #WTFF stood for ‘What the french fry’, however social media users were already using this hashtag for a different reason. Their Tweets were lost amongst other users posts and didn’t get the exposure they should have.

What can we learn from this? Before creating acronyms, always check if they’re already in use to avoid your posts getting lost in the noise.


McDonald’s asked audiences to use the hashtag #McDstories to share stories about their Happy Meals, hoping to encourage positive comments. Unfortunately, people hijacked the hashtag to bash the brand and #McDstories began trending for the wrong reasons.

Other brands have also been known to hijack hashtag fails for their own exposure, so be wary about what you’re asking audiences to do with your hashtag!

So how do you create a hashtag that works?

  • Check if it’s already in use, you don’t want to use a hashtag that already has a different meaning.
  • Double check the meaning of acronyms.
  • If you’re combing words, capitalise the first letter of each word or think of an alternative.
  • Write it down!
  • Read it out loud.
  • Ask others what they think of your hashtag, a second opinion never hurts.
Don’t be put off by a hashtag fail. We can help your social posts get exposure, for all the right reasons, and generate real engagement. Get in touch today and let’s talk social media marketing.