How to use hashtags on social media
Hashtag is a word you can’t escape in the context of social media nowadays.
It’s actually a very powerful tool to use on social media, particularly with regard to your marketing and can help your content be seen by many, not just your fans or followers.
So let’s look a little deeper at how and when to use them.
What is a hashtag?
Hashtags are words or short phrases immediately preceeded by the # symbol such as #socialmedia or #northlondonhour. What hashtags do is act as a label for that post so people can easily find it simply by searching for that hashtag.
Numbers can be used but a hashtag cannot be exclusively numbers. There can be no space between words. Be careful of your spelling when typing a hashtag. Doing a search on Instagram, you’ll see a lot of misspelled hashtags.
When you click on a hashtag, youwill be taken to a page, post or thread that has content using that hashtag.
Where to use a hashtag
Instagram and Twitter are where hashtags mainly come into play. Studies have shown that posts an Instagram user using at least one hashtag will get 12.6% more engagement.
LinkedIn has recently introduced hashtags but it remains to be seen how effective they are. When you create a post, LinkedIn will automatically suggest hashtags for you. Try not to use too many on your post; use a maximum of three.
With Facebook, whilst you can use hashtags they really aren’t that useful in the way they are on Twitter or Instagram. If you use them in a private group, then only members of that group will see them and they won’t come up in searches. Furthemore, hashtags will only show up in your posts if your posts are set to public.
How to use a hashtag
The use of a hashtag is effectively to categorise your post under a particular heading. This could be to attract your ideal client, to highlight your content or to join in a discussion.
You can use a word that describes what you do or what is in your post. Try using a brand or influencer hashtag if you want to recognise that brand or be recognised by an influencer. You could even make up your own hashtag related to your brand or strapline. Avoid using hashtags #randomly in #your #post. Aim to use them strategically and think about what hashtags others will search for that could bring them to your post.
Let’s look at ways you can utilise hashtags.
1. Join a Networking chat on Twitter
Every day there are Twitter Chats or Twitter ‘Hours’ related to a specific subject, often with a geographical slant. For example, #hertshour on a Monday evening provides an opportunity for businesses in Hertfordshire to network and #ukbusinesslunch is a Twitter chat each lunchtime. As long as everyone’s post contains the hashtag, they will show up in that Twitter chat.
#sbs is a popular business hashtag on Twitter related to Theo Paphitis’ initiative supporting small business. When you promote your business and use this # then you are in with a chance of being picked by Theo as a weekly winner.
2. Recommendations on Twitter
A longstanding popular hashtag on Twitter is #followFriday or #FF. If you would like to recommend a business or highlight someone awesome to follow, then use this hashtag in your post. Some people just list several people along with the hashtag. A better use is one recommendation per post along with a few words as to why you are rcommending them that person.
3. Highlighting your post on Instagram
Hashtags really come into their own on Instagram. You can use a maximum of 30 hashtags per post and whilst there is not ideal number per post, it’s generally thought that 12 works well. Engagement certainly increases with use of hashtags.
Add your hashtags at the end of your post. Think about what your content is about and think about who you want to attract to your post.
4. Talking about a trending topic on Twitter
A popular news item or subject will usually have a related hashtag. You may hear people referring to ‘what is trending on social media’.
If you’re watching a TV programme and want to discuss it with others, there’s a good chance you’ll find the hashtag. How does this relate to your business? Well, in this instance it’s more about visibility of you rather than promotion.
5. Research on Instagram
Hashtags are a great for tool for competitor research.
To understand what hashtags work well for your niche, look at your competitors’ posts and see what hashtags they are using.
Or search hashtags that you want to use and see what sort of content is coming up. Does it align with your offering? Is it being used too much, which will mean your content will be lost very quickly amongst everyone else’s.
Be careful as some hashtags, even innocent ones, have been taken over by spammers and may include inappropriate content.
Play around with hashtags to see what works for you. What’s the most creative way you have used a hashtag?