Margaret Thatcher / Cher Hashtag Creates Confusion

Margaret Thatcher Cher HashtagThe world is mourning today as news has spread of the death of a female icon, a talented rule-breaker and earth-shaker … and despite what you’ve read on Twitter, no, I do not mean Cher.

Former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher died of a stroke early this morning.

Some mourners created the hashtag #nowthatchersdead for the politician’s fans to share the news and their remembrances. However, the unnecessarily long and unclear hashtag confused millions on Twitter into thinking singer/actress, Cher died and they began posting their love of the  performer.

I bring this up today because as more and more brands are leveraging hashtags on Twitter – and with Facebook’s announcement that the site will (finally) follow suit and allow people to tag their topics – it’s never been more important to think before you tweet. So, here are some of my top tips for good hashtag creation.

1. CONCISE – Keep it short and to the point. This will avoid confusion like today’s Thatcher/Cher debacle and will give people more room for their own comments on Twitter.

2. INTEGRATION – Try to create a hashtag that naturally integrates into language and sentences. (For example, RIPMargaret or RIPThatcher) This will make it easier for your followers and fans to use the hashtag without requiring additional characters.

3. RELEVANCE –  Make your hashtag as relevant to your brand or campaign message as possible. Remember, hashtags are for public use and if yours is too vague, it will be adopted by other topics, diminishing its usefulness and damaging your measurement.

4. USAGE – Check Twitter and sites like to determine if your desired hashtag is already in use. Sometimes, it makes sense to co-opt a hashtag from other brands or topics as this will get you a wider audience – just be sure you are relevant; no one likes a gatecrasher/spammer. Other times, you want something absolutely ownable by your brand. If you are creating your own hashtag, I recommend doing some research to see what words are being used in twitter conversation to gain better exposure.

5. CONSISTENCY – Be consistent in the use of your hashtag. So, often, marketers will create dozens of tags for their brand or change their hashtag mid-campaign and then they wonder why none of them stick. Consistency breeds familiar, which breeds brand recognition.

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