If your school is on social media, then you NEED a customized school hashtag. Hashtags work in Twitter, Instagram, Google and even Facebook.
The basic function of a hashtag (#), which is otherwise known as a pound or number sign, is that it makes it easy for people to find others interested in a common topic. Capital letters don’t matter, but spaces do.
For example, if you search #4thofJuly (or #4thofjuly), you’ll get a list of people talking about the upcoming holiday. You will not find a tweet or post stating “I love the 4th of July” because this person did not use the hashtag and did not keep it as all one phrase without spaces.
Notice that our business name even starts with a hashtag – #SocialSchool4EDU. It’s that important!
What is the recipe for an awesome school hashtag? Here are five important ingredients:
1. Make it unique.
Developing a cool hashtag that is already used by other schools will get you nowhere. A great tool to use is www.tagboard.com. You can type in any hashtag and find out how often it is used, whether it is used in a positive, negative or neutral way, and see the most recent uses. If your mascot is a Viking, #GoVikings is used a lot! Developing this as your hashtag would not create a flood of posts just about your school.
2. Keep it positive.
You want to develop a hashtag that invokes some school spirit. This has been a learning experience for me. At the first school I worked with, we just did #NewAuburn. It isn’t negative, but it certainly doesn’t invoke a lot of school spirit. It could be your mascot like #CameronComets or a simple #GoFrederic.
3. Keep it short.
Twitter holds you to just 140 characters for each post. Even for Instagram and Facebook you want to keep updates fairly short. People come to see photos and read quick phrases, not novels! But don’t skimp on meaning. When Rice Lake wanted to reference their “Warrior Way,” #warriorway was already used by others. To use #RiceLakeWarriorWay would have been pretty long (18 characters). We settled with #RLWarriorWay (12 characters).
4. Use it all the time.
People will only start to use it in their own social posts if they know about it. There is no official announcement process; just include it on EVERYTHING. Use it on:
• Posters in the hallways
• Clothing and other branded items
• Athletic and music programs
• Cover photo on all social media platforms
• E-mail signatures for all staff
• And of course use it on most of your own social media updates
5. Search and reward!
Search out the hashtag at least a few times a week. Grab some of the photos to share on your school page. You can even reward with a simple prize or other recognition like “#ColfaxPride Student of the Week.”
Special events can certainly have customized hashtags as well, but encouraging the use of one hashtag for all things related to your school will be extremely helpful in getting your story out to the world. There isn’t a formal reservation process for your hashtag. You just start using it.