The word “tweet” was just added to the dictionary this past summer. No, we aren’t making that up. Twitter was created and launched in 2006, and now, it’s hard to remember what our pre-Twitter social media world was even like. Possibly more popular than the site and channel itself, is the chronic use, interpretation, utilization, and social adoption of the hashtag. Hashtags have even infiltrated other social networks like Facebook and Instagram.

The majority of reality shows and live events relentlessly use hashtags to engage audiences across multiple screens and to build momentum and impressions. It’s irrefutable the hashtag is a useful and powerful tool in the social media world today, which means that companies and organizations that plan to use hashtags to string together conversations and brand evangelism activities should probably pay a respective amount of attention to details while doing so. Let us explain.

Hashtags have turned into more than just a simple word tagged at the end of an update. They have taken on personalities of their own. They now include phrases and sentences, quotes and made up words that are not considered common knowledge to many users. The actual word “hashtag” is even being used in every day, face-to-face conversations to give extra insight into the speakers mind.

If you intend to utilize the hashtag it is essential to examine what it says, what it means, and ALL of the possible ways that it could be interpreted and rewritten. For example, following the recent death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in April there was a hashtag that was attached to tweets about the matter that was sweeping through the Twittersphere:  #nowthatchersdead. Hmmm, take another look at that one. After telling you what the hashtag was about, sure, you read it “Now Thatcher’s Dead.” However, hashtags are not written like that so people started to interpret and read this tag as “Now That Cher’s Dead.” What a difference a simple space can make. Want some other examples of hashtag mishaps? Check these out: http://mashable.com/2013/10/19/hijacked-hashtags/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link#

There are countless examples of the hashtag going completely awry and even being hijacked. Before tagging these sayings to promote your cause, do yourself a favor and spend a little time dissecting what you are saying and how it will be read and understood by those who will see it and use it. Moreover, take it a step farther and brainstorm how a variety of users could spin the meaning of your hashtag. If there is a political or social nature about the subject, understand that those issues are very polarizing and opinion-driven.

It takes a lot of work and consideration to effectively implement a hashtag and have it take off, so make sure that your hard work will be worth it. Rescinding a tweet and playing cover-up is never a good strategy and puts you in a “one step forward, two steps backwards” type of situation.

Still need an overview of the #hashtag? Check out the comedic styling of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake as they give a few hilarious, everyday examples.

You’re welcome.