5 Hashtag #Mistakes Your Nonprofit May Be Making

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 3.17.01 PM.pngThe following is a guest blog I wrote for Williams Whittle. I hope you enjoy it!

Hashtags are so commonplace now, they’ve become a part of daily life (at least on the internet). They are a quick, easy way to join an existing conversation and amplify your message to even more people.

However, if you don’t use them strategically, they could be hurting you, rather than helping you. Here are some things your nonprofit could be doing wrong.

1- Not using hashtags

This is an easy one. Hashtags are a proven way to get more engagement on your posts—if you do them well. Tweets with hashtags get twice the engagement as tweets without hashtags. Tweets with hashtags are 55% more likely to get retweeted. And for Instagram, the numbers are even more striking: posts with 11+ hashtags get the most engagement. However, make sure you don’t overdo it, because you could be…

2- Using too may hashtags

A recent study found that using too may hashtags actually lowered engagement. On Facebook, by increasing the number of hashtags from 2 to 3, engagement dropped almost 25%. The general rule is the 2 is right number of hashtags for Facebook and Twitter, but you can use more on other networks such as Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest. And even if you’re using the right number of hashtags, you could be…

3- Not doing your research

Hashtags can feel like a shot in the dark. You’re picking from a wide field, and sometimes your choices can feel arbitrary. But by using tools such as Hastagify.me to find what hashtags are being used in your cause, and who the main influencers are, you can see who and where the existing conversations about your cause are happening. Because when your nonprofit is silent during big conversations, you’re the one that’s missing out. And one big missed opportunity is if you are…

4- Not jumping on conference hashtags

Conversations at conferences are not just happening in person. Many conferences take advantage of the rapt audience to increase their online engagement by using custom hashtags. By joining that conversation, you can build your audience with other like-minded professionals. The best network for this is Twitter, but when you arrive at the conference (or even just following the conversation from across the country), check what social networks and custom hashtags the host organization will be using. By owning this conversation, host organizations can amplify their following, but that’s because they are putting significant time, energy, and money into the conference. Your nonprofit, if not putting in that time, energy, and money could be making a mistake by…

5- Creating custom hashtags

Big brands line Coke and Nike have been creating custom hashtags to support their campaigns since the beginning of hashtags. They have been able to do that because their following is significant enough, and they are putting enough money behind the hashtag, to have it gain traction. However, if you have a limited budget and limited time, creating your own hashtags may be more effort than its worth. If you do want to create a custom hashtag, make sure it’s one that you are consistent with. Don’t throw too many out there and expect them all to go viral.

What else should nonprofits NOT be doing with hashtags? Tweet us at @ahcarney and  @williamswhittle to let us know what you think!

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