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The Art Of The Hashtag

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From #autorepair to #customerservice, hashtags are one of the most common social media features repair shops use across their social media platforms.

There’s no denying that hashtags are useful. The feature can create a digital filing cabinet that's searchable and gives users specific information on a given topic. 

But, while the use of hashtags has been prioritized over the evolution of social media, they may be losing their luster, said Darren D’Altorio, head of social media for digital marketing firm Wpromote. Especially if done wrong. 

One of the biggest issues D’Altorio sees with hashtags is dilution. Too many businesses are adding 8-10 hashtags on every post. And while the businesses intentions are good, trying to drum up traffic to their post, that’s not how the user sees it. It starts to look like phishing and gives the sense that the business is “trying too hard.”

“I don’t think people give the average social media user enough credit for being smart and having critical thinking. People’s BS meters are really strong. They don’t like to feel scammed, duped or generally have wool pulled over your eyes. When you see a lot of hashtags, it triggers that spam factor. Like, ‘what is this? Why is this here?’” D’Altorio said.

That said, hashtags are still valuable, D'Altorio said. They don’t have the power they once did five years ago as the social media algorithms have advanced, but they still can serve a purpose. 

D’Altorio recommends picking out around three hashtags, with five being the absolute max, that the shop should use every time. Find hashtags that are relevant to the business and the industry. Think critically about whether the hashtag is actually one that your customers would search. Those are what should be included. Then, stick to those hashtags, D’Altorio said. Use the same ones over and over. That way, when someone searches or clicks on the hashtag, the feed is populated with your posts, reinforcing your expertise on the subject matter. 

“That’s one thing I see a lot, they make up hashtags on the spot or they’re inconsistent in what they use every time,” he said. “If you're going to use hashtags as part of your ongoing social media strategy, you have to make sure you’re consistent with those.”

One step to really elevate your business's use of hashtags is to create your own. Instead of just using general hashtags like #autorepair or #oilchange, make a hashtag unique to your business. It can be a slogan, brand name, or anything that resonates and embodies your shop. Then you can use it on your posts and encourage your customers to also use the hashtag. It creates a sense of community and makes your page stand out from the generic hashtags that users are used to seeing, D’Altorio said. 

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