Have you ever used a hashtag on a post and then later realized it was being used for something inappropriate or associated with something you didn’t intend to associate with?  Lately, we have had several schools reach out to us about this exact problem. Before it becomes a problem, schools need to do their hashtag homework.

  1. You do not have legal claim to a hashtag. Hashtags are simply a filtering mechanism. Many brands have created unique hashtags that help elevate their brand, but it doesn’t mean they have legal claim to them. However, you probably wouldn’t use these hashtags unless you were wanting to associate with that brand such as McDonald’s #ImLovinIt, Subaru’s #ShareTheLove campaign or Diet Coke’s #BecauseICan.
  2. Carefully research hashtags and images on each platform. As content creators and social media managers, you have a responsibility to research hashtags and pick hashtags that are most appropriate and in agreement with your brand. And don’t just stop at hashtags. Make sure you look at the images associated with those hashtags on each platform and understand how it is being used and what type of accounts are using it. We also advise that you keep researching regularly used hashtags in case somebody else is crashing your hashtag party or using that hashtag for inappropriate material.
  3. Pick hashtags that match your message, not your mascot. Even though picking hashtags based on your school mascot might sound good in theory, there are likely other schools out there who are using it. If you want to pick a unique hashtag, make sure it resonates with your brand message and student voice.

Classroom conversation starters:

  1. Why should schools use hashtags in social media posts? Are there reasons why they shouldn’t?

  2. What are common hashtags that schools should probably avoid using? Why?

  3. What hashtags are being used in your community?

  4. What hashtags does your school currently use and do they make sense? Could those hashtags backfire in some way?

  5. What role do trending hashtags play in your social media use?

  6. How do you want others to use the hashtag you are using?