Hashtags are everywhere. On all your social media platforms. And, as a marketer, you can’t ignore them. You need to know how to use them strategically to benefit your brand.
Knowing how to use hashtags is crucial for any digital marketer in 2019. That is why we would like to show you the dos and don’ts when it comes to using hashtags – and how to use them in the main social media platforms.
So, let’s dive into it!
What are hashtags?
Hashtags are a word, or group of words after the # sign (#adversent, #marketing, #like or anything else). If you’re more technically inclined, you might know hashtags are metadata tags. Marketers will know them as a way to engage your brand with your audience or market.
It was the rise of Twitter that turned this simple symbol into an online sensation.
#FunFact: The first hashtag ever used in this way was #barcamp. It was posted by Chris Messina, a product designer and internet consultant in 2007.
Taking direction from similar uses of the hash symbol that he’d seen on other sites, Messina designed a version specifically for Twitter.
Why use hashtags?
By using hashtags, your posts can be discovered by anyone. Even people that don’t follow your account. For example, imagine you owned a restaurant in London. By adding hashtags such as #LondonFoodie, you would be targeting people who have an interest in food around London. When someone clicks on a hashtag, they’ll generally be brought to a page that collects all of the posts with the same hashtags, in real time.
Hashtags are powerful. They can help your posts reach a target audience, attract followers in your niche, increase engagement, and develop a more positive and recognizable brand image.
Still not convinced? There’s more.
Cross networking. A great feature of hashtags is you can use them across channels. This will help your cross-channel promotions and make it easier to use hashtags for each major network.
Optimise for discovery. Hashtags are another organic output for your content. If you want new users to hear about your brand, this is an easy way to do so.
Types of hashtags
- Brand/Campaign Specific
Brand & Campaign hashtags
You will have to create your own brand hashtag. Make it your company name, or a tagline that people know about your business. Use it in every post you make on social media, as it will be your central business tag, that you – and your customers – can use to help build your brand image and awareness.
A perfect brand hashtag has three key ingredients. It is concise, catchy and unique to its brand. This last one is extremely important. Do a search for the hashtags you’re thinking about before you implement it. If your company name is common, choose a different hashtag.
Campaign hashtags are made specifically for each of your marketing campaigns. It should be the name of the campaign. Something catchy. You want users to remember it while the campaign is running.
For example, Starbucks #StarbucksPuppuccino Campaign. They launched a new hot drink for dogs and made a cool name and hashtag out of it. This got people posting content of their dogs with these products. Not only did this bring awareness towards the campaign – it also encouraged people to buy the product and post about it to show off their cute pups.
You should keep these hashtags consistent and relatively short, so they are easy to remember – and spell – for your customers.
They are not branded – and not used to define your business and marketing. They aren’t necessarily trending or highly popular. They are simply common hashtags that are related to your post content.
Content hashtags improve the SEO of your posts. They get them seen by users who are searching for or using the hashtag words.
The drawback with using generic content hashtags is that your posts can disappear in the crowd.
A trending hashtag is a hashtag topic that has become very popular. Trending hashtags are continuously changing in real time
Small UK business Celeb Boutique went down in flames after misunderstanding the #Aurora trend, which was actually about a tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Do your homework before getting involved.
Tip: Do not spam trending hashtags. Posting too many trends won’t be appreciated by users – especially if they are unrelated to your company or brand. Spamming trends can even get your Twitter account suspended.
Great hashtags can help like-minded people or communities find each other. The best hashtags come about organically and then escalate to reach a larger audience and user base. A brilliant example of this is Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign, which drove massive numbers of sales and generated heaps of user-generated content on social media.
How to use Hashtags
Think strategically. The hashtags you use will have probably been used before by other brands. This is a good thing, because the hashtag will already have a following. However, when a hashtag is overcrowded, your content can go unnoticed.
To avoid this, mix popular content hashtags with other more specific ones. A combination of standard and niche hashtags tends to work best. Use sites like Hashtagify to research your tags before you get started.
Now let me tell you how to use hashtags on some of the most popular social media platforms.
Twitter. Where it all began. The hometown of hashtags is a platform designed to automatically show you trending hashtags. This data is based on where you are and who you follow – which means you can quickly find hashtags relevant to you.
On Twitter, hashtags are used to find conversations to get involved in, or to start a discussion of your own.
Make sure the hashtag is relevant to your message. Don’t get yourself on a trending hashtag that has nothing to do with your brand. Users won’t like it; they’re looking for content relevant to the hashtag.
Tweets with one hashtag tend to generate the most engagement. Engagement drops when you use more than two hashtags.
On Twitter you can promote hashtags. These appear on the trends section and it is made visible that it has been promoted.
Whereas platforms like Twitter tend to favour a low number of hashtags, Instagram posts with more hashtags get more engagement. But remember, DO NOT hashtag every single word.
Randomly adding hashtags to the end of your posts won’t grow your audience. Instead, have a look at the hashtags your audience, competitors and industry leaders are using. Which of these you can fit into your content?
Instead of just using the most popular Instagram hashtags, it’s better to use the top hashtags. Why? Because these have an engaging community behind them and will be specific to your audience or industry.
Now, why use hashtags on Instagram? Because now people can follow hashtags, just like they follow accounts. This means your posts can end up in a user’s feed even if they don’t follow you. It’s all about the content, make it great and frequent and tag it with relevant hashtags, and users will start following you.
If you need proof of hashtags working, with a business profile, you can measure how effective they are. When looking at insights, in the engagement section, there is a source of engagement from hashtags. The number that appears will equal the amount of engagement that comes from hashtags.
A relative newcomer to the hashtag scene, Facebook is another platform where you can benefit from using hashtags.
Like Twitter, you’re going to want to keep the number of hashtags to a minimum.
The primary purpose of the hashtag on Facebook is to make things easier to discover. Hashtags make it possible to connect people based on available Facebook data.
To successfully use hashtags on Facebook, you need to understand your audience. Ensure that your hashtags will make sense to them. It’s also worth using hashtags for events and promotions.
The best practice is to copy your Twitter or Instagram hashtags over to Facebook to join more conversations and create cross-channel integration. Ritetag is a brilliant web tool to use for optimising your Facebook hashtags by testing them.
Pro Tip: You can easily monitor your hashtags on Facebook by using the URL facebook.com/hashtag/_____. Include the keyword you want to search at the end.
Just like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, a LinkedIn hashtag is any combination of letters, numbers, or emoji that follow the # symbol.
#FunFact: the technical term for a hashtag is octothorp.
Since LinkedIn is primarily for business, you’re going to want to keep your hashtags much more straightforward and professional. That means leaving the memes and trends for Twitter.
Don’t leave your hashtags hanging. Your posts should always include at least one line of copy and a call-to-action. Hashtags can be placed after or within copy – as long as it makes sense.
ALWAYS remember the goal of your post. Use hashtags to facilitate them, not compete with them.
There is a niche community online for every industry and subject. They often use a specific hashtag. Find out what it is and use it. Don’t be afraid to use popular hashtags too.
LinkedIn has this special feature where it will automatically suggest relevant hashtags as you’re writing a post. This is true for most social media platforms too.
So, there you have it.
Don’t go overboard with your hashtags and be sure to use them in a way that best suits each social media platform. Make sure you’re sharing the best content and making the right impression.
Once you’ve mastered the art of using hashtags, you’ll see how they can be a powerful tool to grow your social impact and engage your audience.
What are you waiting for? Optimize your hashtags, raise your brand awareness and boost your online presence today!