The School Marketer's Guide to Effectively Using Hashtags
Mia Major

Ever since hashtags became clickable in 2009, they've become a critical piece to successful marketing campaigns across numerous platforms. But, when it comes to using them, schools haven't thought much about hashtag strategy. (We know what you're thinking — there's such thing as a hashtag strategy? We don't mean to add something new to your already-full plate, but yes, there is.)

AOF Social Feed

70% of consumers favor the use of hashtags on mobile devices, and nearly half feel motivated to explore new content when hashtags are present.

What does that mean for you? Using effective, trending hashtags will maximize your visibility and searchability, so prospects and constituents can find content they're looking for quicker and simpler.

Since we like to say that the golden rule of hashtags is to "use them," we put together this guide to teach you how use hashtags in your marketing so to help you kick start a campaign that doesn't flop at its first tweet.


Free Hashtag Cheat Sheet

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Twitter

With that in mind, your hashtags should have a purpose, be easy to search, and aim to build upon what you had to say in 140 characters or less. Since it's the birthplace of the modern hashtag, you're likely to see a hashtag in almost every tweet on your feed. But don't jump the gun and start hashtagging every word in your tweet. Twitter hashtags are used to create specific topics of conversation.

Shady Side Academy uses tons of branded hashtags to divvy up news for their different schools and events. It's great for categorizing content on social, and getting your community involved in the conversation.

Shady Side Academy Twitter

When to use them: Every tweet, if possible.

How many to use: #Have #You #Ever #Seen #Someone #Hashtag #Like #This #On #Twitter? It's just as ineffective as it is annoying. Tweets with 1-2 hashtags have 21% higher engagement than those with none, however tweets that use more than two hashtags show a 17% drop in engagement.

Facebook

In June of 2013, Facebook finally added the support of hashtags. Research says to proceed with caution as Facebook posts with hashtags had less engagement than those with hashtags. However, with just over a year since Facebook started supporting hashtags, we aren't completely sold that you should ditch them.

When to use them: Sparingly, and only when they'll increase your visibility — like hashtagging that your school's track team raised $5,000 during #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth.

How many to use: If you decide to use hashtags at all, keep it to a maximum of 2.

Instagram

With hashtag support since its inception in 2010, the Instagram hashtag is designed to help you discover new accounts and pick up followers with interests and posts similar to yours. While we previously discouraged excessive hashtagging, you'll find that your posts pick up steam in the Instagram community when they include numerous hashtags.

Choate Instagram

When to use them: Every post, no excuses.

How many to use: According to research the magic number is eleven. However feel free to hashtag away — the more, the merrier.

Pinterest

As the second largest social site in the US in number of users, and the highest revenue-generating social site for businesses, you won't want to scratch Pinterest because you're busy.

Pinterest hashtags are for personal organization as well as global content organization, meaning you can use them to mark and search for content. But due to its popularity, you can be sure it's easier for posts to be lost than found — especially when they're not categorized by a hashtag.

Loomis Pinterest

When to use them: Since Pinterest boards allow you to categorize pins already, tagging every single pin isn't necessary — only the ones you want to be found later.

How many to use: If you're trying to organize information for yourself, keep it to one hashtag that will identify a group of your. Looking to share content globally? Include as many as you think necessary.

When to use them: Every post, if possible (including pictures). However if you forget, Google will take care of it for you.

How many to use: Keep it between 1-2 hashtags.

Additional #TipsAndTricks

1. Brand Yourself

Maintain consistent in your hashtag use across all platforms. However, this doesn't mean you can only have one hashtag. Create a unique hashtag for your school, a popular event like homecoming or prom, your athletics community, a cause you support — or anything, really. Here's an example from La Salle College High School in Pennsylvania.

School brand hashtag: #Lasallian and #LSCHS

Event hashtag: #LSCHS18 (used for LSCHS class of 2018 posts)

Sports hashtag: #HailLaSalle (they also have a separate hashtag for each sports team, such as #LaSalleBaseball)

LSCHS Twitter Feed

2. Use Capitals

While this rule isn't written in stone, using capitals in your hashtags will make them easier to read since you can't use spaces. #ThisIsEasierToRead #Thanthis

3. Do Your Research

While it's easy to create your own hashtags, figuring out which online discussions a post belongs to requires a little more thought — especially on Twitter where 1-2 hashtags works best. Consider tagging sport affiliations, school associations, or national societies when trying to become part of a larger online conversation. Hashtag generator sites like hashtags.org can help you find some trending tags in your industry and beyond.

4. Be Specific and Unique

It sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised by how many schools use a hashtag like #Falcons. While your school mascot may be a falcon, there are dozens of other schools that are represented by that same mascot. Make your hashtags unique to your school, and specific to particular events. Otherwise, you'll end up grouping your tweets together with those that aren't related.

5. Being Searchable Means Being Public

We know that privacy policies can be tricky, but if you want others to be able to find you via hashtags, your profiles must be public.

6. Don't Hashtag Words that Don't Matter

While we know that being back to school is #awesome, "awesome" isn't much of a conversation-starter. Keep your hashtags to words and phrases that inspire conversations, retweets, and engagement.

And don't forget to follow us on our social networks for more best practices!

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Hashtag Cheat Sheet


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