Hashtags are great. They’ve been shown to increase engagement up to 16%, according to Twitter’s own research. They allow your tweets to be found when people are searching for related conversions or topics, and they allow you to group campaign messaging together. Hashtags are awesome for getting your message seen by more people.
The only problem with hashtags, is that they’re hurting your paid messaging performance.
How Hashtags Hurt
When you use a hashtag, the general intention is to increase the chances your message is seen. To be part of a larger conversation. But, while users can search for hashtags, promoted tweets don’t generally come up in those searches. What’s the purpose of including a hashtag if they can’t find you with it?
Hashtags in a messages are also just another to lead your viewer away from your message rather than to a link click (and to your site). Imagine, a potential customer sees your promoted tweet. But then instead of clicking the link it includes, they click the shiny hashtag instead, which stands out just as much as your link since it’s highlighted just the same. You’ve just paid at least $2-4 (on average) to send a potential customer off to see messages from others, including your competition.
Those hashtags that you thought were helping are now hurting you. Both in connecting with your audience and in paid spend.
Hack Off The Hashtags
Hashtags have just as much ability to help as they do hinder. While they can really help to increase the engagement of a message, they’ve also been shown to decrease clicks. A study Twitter conducted showed that messages that don’t include mentions or hashtags see 23% more clicks. To even further drive the point home, Twitter themselves advise advertisers not to include hashtags in sponsored messaging, as they detract from link clicks.
Yet against what the studies say and against the advice of the people who’s network we’re paying to post on, you still see countless sponsored tweets the contain hashtags. Don’t let them be yours. Allow your competitors to waste their money driving people to places other than where they want. Let them make that mistake, not you.
When creating social messaging, we must think about the intention of the message. What are our goals with each and every one we draft? It’s not as simple as including all these things we’ve been told increase engagement (such as mentions, images, and hashtags) as they often impact other pieces (like decreasing link clicks). If we compose tweets with intention in mind and an awareness of how different messaging elements impact the behavior of those reading our messages, we can gain better social performance and create more social success.