Put a #hashtag on it!

Put a #Hashtag On It

Hashtags – those little tags that turned the pound key to a hash sign – are a popular way to add searchability and a bit of personality to social media posts. But just like any other piece of advertising, they need to be reviewed from a compliance perspective. Here are some ways to go about reviewing hashtags.

  1. Understand the #basics: All the advertising rules and regulations apply to hashtags. They can’t be absolute, promissory, scary, incomplete, unfair, deceptive, or misleading. Due to their brief nature, and wanting to use tags that are punchy, clever, and eye-catching, keep these basic standards in mind to make sure that adding a few hashtags doesn’t change the overall tone of an ad.
  2. Understand the #context: What will the hashtags be used with? Do you have a copy of the entire ad? Or are you reviewing a list of possible hashtags to be used with any number of ads? The list approach can absolutely be workable; however you’ll want to make sure that you closely review the list with each applicable ad. If one of the terms is deemed inappropriate for a given ad, there needs to be some type of measure in place to ensure it doesn’t get used. For example, add within brackets on the approved ad [use any of the approved hashtags except: #XYZHashtag.] Another option would be to remove the hashtag in question from the approved list, or create more segmented lists by general product type or subject matter so that it won’t show up as an option for some scenarios. The big takeaway here is that context matters, and you need to be considering the big picture. Signing off on a list of hashtags and not looking at how they impact an ad can lead to unnecessary risk exposure.
  3. Understand #wheretheygo: Hashtags are used for searching, so it’s wise to understand what else is tagged with those terms. I can’t imagine an insurer, agent, or intermediary would be held responsible for other content that happens to be tagged with some of the same keywords, especially if it’s something as broad as #insurance. However, what if your company or firm makes hashtags specific to a company promotion? Or product? Or event? What if the hashtag is your company name? Aside from ongoing audits of what may be on the internet that’s associated with your company, when you’re reviewing hashtags, click on them. Look at what else is tagged with that content. Is it appropriate? Is it how you’d want consumers to find your company and information? Does it impact the overall ad? You may not end up making any changes, but it’s worth the time to investigate and flag any potential issues.
  4. Understand #whatworks: Hashtags are a microcosm within the marketing universe. Writing effective, timely, smart, and applicable hashtags is a skill, and also requires a fair amount of research to really understand the reach of any hashtag. There may be legitimate reasons why certain tags are desired over others. Understanding the marketing goal and why certain terms are being tagged are important for an ad reviewer to keep in mind. This allows ad reviewers to make suggestions that are in line with regulatory requirements, as well as speak to the marketing needs. Generally, long wordy hashtags are not effective. They can be hard to understand, and the more words used, the more unlikely it is someone is going to be searching for that specific sentence. On the flip side, using hashtags that are too simplistic or too broad results in content that will only get buried. You don’t need to become a marketer, but keeping the goals and length of the tag in mind can help provide more valuable feedback.