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How to use Hashtags for social media

By September 6, 2021No Comments
hashtags for social media

Whether you’re a sole trader or a large company, hashtags are essential for your content strategy. Hashtags are keyword links that create the perfect method for finding relevant content to read and share. This gives the audience an easy way to find the content they’re looking for, especially on social media.  If you’ve ever been on Instagram or Twitter, you’ve more than likely seen hashtags in use before. You’ve likely used hashtags on social media yourself.

Hashtags are now commonplace within social media, with millions of posts using hashtags beign shared daily.

Why use hashtags?

Help your target audience find you and your posts

Hashtags should contain keywords relevant to your post or business, that way anyone searching for the same subject matter will be able to find you easily.  With literally millions of posts being shared daily, without the correct use of hashtags, your target audience may never find you.

On Linkedin and Instagram, users can follow hashtags as well as other users. Using a few popular hashtags can be another way to help new users find your brand.

For example, if you use #holiday on your Instagram posts, someone who follows that hashtag will see your recent post in their feed. You might gain some new followers this way.

Increase engagement with your followers

Including hashtags in your posts means taking part in a conversation happening on that social media platform. And most importantly, it makes your posts visible in that conversation.

This can lead to greater engagement, boosting your brand’s social media engagement through likes, shares, comments, and new followers.

Build brand awareness with branded hashtags

Creating a branded hashtag can be an effective way to promote your business and drive conversations.

Hashtag basics

  • They always start with # but they won’t work if you use spaces, punctuation or symbols.
  • Make sure your accounts are public. Otherwise, the hashtagged content you write won’t be seen by any non-followers.
  • Don’t string too many words together. The best hashtags tend to be relatively short and easy to remember.
  • Use relevant and specific hashtags. If it is too obscure, it will be hard to find and it won’t likely be used by other social media users.
  • Limit the number of hashtags you use. More isn’t always better. It actually looks spammy.

How to find the best hashtags to use 

To find hashtags that are specific to your brand, your industry and your audience, you’ll have to do a little research.

Monitor social media influencers and competitors

Start by doing a competitive analysis on social media. Gather intel about your competitors and any relevant influencers within your brand’s niche.

Make note of which hashtags they use most often and how many hashtags they use in each of their posts. This will help you learn how your competitors are engaging with your shared target audience and which keywords they tend to use.

Know which hashtags are trending

RiteTag is an excellent app that lets you type your social media caption into the text bar and upload the photo you’ll pair with your caption.

RiteTag generates trending hashtag suggestions based on your content. You’ll see the best hashtags to get your post seen immediately, as well as hashtags to get your post seen over time. Click “Get Report” for detailed analysis on the hashtags it displays.

Find related hashtags

If you already have a good grasp of which hashtags are working well for your brand, consider using related hashtags. These might be a little more specific than the popular hashtags you’re already using, which could help you connect with a more targeted audience.

On Instagram, the related hashtags show just above the “Top” and “Recent” tabs when in the Explore section of Instagram.

Hashtag best practices

Since hashtags are so common, they can be used in many different ways and on many different platforms. Strategies can range from using your own branded hashtag to encourage your audience to share user-generated content or jumping on trending hashtags to create popular content.

Using hashtags isn’t a difficult or advanced part of your strategy.

You can also check out how many people are using hashtags on Instagram by typing it into the search bar and tapping the Tags section. Click on each tag to see how many posts are using that hashtag, if anyone you follow is using that hashtag, as well as related popular hashtags.

How many hashtags should you use?

The number of hashtags you use depends on which platform you’re posting to. A hashtag strategy is not one-size-fits-all when it comes to the various social media networks. In fact, on some platforms, it’s better not to use hashtags in your posts.

Facebook: – 1-2 hashtags

Using hashtags on Facebook can help your content gain visibility, attract new community members for your brand and increase your reach overall. The best approach to hashtags on Facebook is to be specific and select 1-2 hashtags that are truly relevant to the content of your post. When Facebook users peruse a hashtag feed rather than their individual newsfeed, they are looking to discover and engage with trending discussions—which is a great time for your brand to be front and center.

Twitter: 1-2 hashtags

Using up to two hashtags within your tweets can actually double your engagement. We’ll talk about different types of hashtags to use (and track) here in a bit, but keep this in mind every time you’re about to tweet. However, using more than two hashtags can actually decrease engagement, so maximize your hashtag use at just one or two.

Instagram: Up to 11 hashtags

Instagram posts allow you to share up to 30 hashtags, however, the general consensus is up to 11 with between 1 and 3 being the average best.

Pinterest: 3-5 hashtags

Pinterest made a big announcement in 2018 about how they were bringing hashtag capabilities to its platform, and as of now, there isn’t enough data to determine if pins that include hashtags perform better than pins without. However, this platform is similar to Facebook in that its search feature doesn’t differentiate when searching for hashtags or keywords. We recommend simply including your keywords within the description, rather than within a hashtag.

LinkedIn: 2-3 hashtags

LinkedIn has also just recently added hashtags to their platform, but unlike Pinterest, they have done so while also creating a searching method that does focus on hashtags. Which means including up to three hashtags in your company’s LinkedIn post actually can help people to find your content better. Although there’s no limit to how many hashtags you can include within your post, we recommend keeping it between two and three.

Don’t use irrelevant or repetitive hashtags

It’s not about getting seen by a lot of people, it’s about getting seen by the right people. That’s how hashtags lead to higher engagement and more followers. Pick and choose the right keywords for each post individually.

It might be tempting to simply copy and paste the same long list of hashtags on every post, but don’t do it. Instagram’s community guidelines clearly state that “posting repetitive comments or content” is not okay. If you use the same hashtags for every post, your content will be penalized by the algorithm.

When you create a post, only use hashtags that make sense. If you tag a post with #tennis, for example, your content must be something tennis fans will want to comment on, like, and share.

Make sure that hashtag means what you think it means

Hashtags are often a string of words stuck together. That can create some problems when it’s not clear where one word ends and the next begins.

One of the worst examples of this was the #susanalbumparty hashtag from way back in 2012. It was a launch celebration hashtag for Susan Boyle’s new album. But read it slowly and you might pick up some words in the middle that clearly make the hashtag a bit… problematic.

Track popular hashtags

Whether you’re a seasoned expert or brand new to social marketing, there’s one thing that’s certain: you must be able to track your hashtags. Knowing which hashtags are popular, drive people to find your content and get them talking is essential to your social strategy.

When you use hashtags, you’re increasing reach and engagement on your social media content. Hashtags are one of the most powerful organic social media strategies, but in order to maximise their performance, you need to track your hashtags.

Many brands struggle to identify which social media metrics are most important for their campaigns, and this can also be true of hashtags.

Important hashtag metrics to track

What should you actually look for when knowing a hashtag is working for your social strategy? Here are a few top metrics that can help you determine the success of a hashtag.

Popularity

How popular is the hashtag that you’re using? Hashtags that are used often tend to also be searched for often, so it’s a good idea to include hashtags in your post that have proven to be popular. You just want to make sure you’re not spamming your followers with irrelevant but trending hashtags just for popularity’s sake.

Reach

How many people actually tend to see the hashtags you’re using? If your reach isn’t very high, you’re probably not using the best hashtags. Try out some new tactics to see if you can increase the eyes on your posts, such as using a tool like Sprout to find related hashtags that are getting a lot of attention.

Interactions

Not only do you want to make sure people are using and seeing these hashtags, you want to make sure people are also interacting with them. Posting hashtagged content that gets users Retweeting and sharing will expand the reach of your campaign.

Users

Who, specifically, is using the hashtags? You want to make sure that you’re seeing users that are within your target audience using and searching for the same hashtags that you are so your message resonates.

Which hashtags to track

There are several different types of hashtags that you’ll be using in your social media content. Here’s know how and why to track each one.

Content hashtags

Content hashtags are essentially the keyword hashtags that you tag at the end or inside of your post. Going back to the example we used in this article when searching for relevant hashtags, #socialmedia would be considered a content hashtag. Your company’s industry hashtags would also be considered content hashtags.

You’ll want to track these so that you know which are the most popular content hashtags to use when sharing content like a blog post or other industry-related news. Check tools like RiteTag to understand which content hashtags are the most popular and are seen the most often.

Branded hashtags

A branded hashtag is a hashtag that your company has created and promotes as a way of tagging your company directly. For example, we’re @CoastCreative and we use #CoastCreative for the hashtag.

Many times, a branded hashtag is simply your company name or your company name + a keyword like your product or service.

Tracking this hashtag is a great way to see how many people are talking about your business specifically. You’ll want to use a monitoring tool like Sprout Social’s Discovery feature to keep tabs on conversations surrounding your branded hashtag.

Trending hashtags

You can easily find out which hashtags are trending by checking out your sidebar on Twitter’s desktop website or by tapping the magnifying glass icon on the smartphone app. The platform itself will let you know how many people are talking about each of the trending hashtags so you’ll know ahead of time if it’s worth incorporating into your content.

Using trending hashtags in a way that’s relevant to your content and appropriate to your brand voice can help increase viral attention on your post. Be sure to check your Twitter report to see how the impact differs from using your regular hashtags.

Event hashtags

If your company is hosting an event, if your team members are attending an industry event or conference, or if you’re tweeting about a large event going on nationally or internationally (i.e., big sporting events), be sure to incorporate the event’s hashtag in all of your posts about that event.

Campaign/ad hashtags

A campaign/ad hashtag is a hashtag that your company creates for a specific campaign, launch, or digital advertisement. This helps to generate buzz around one specific thing that your business is doing.

For example, Nike will use different hashtags each time they’re promoting a new footwear or apparel product.

If your company is trying to promote a new product or service launch or is running a specific campaign, creating a new hashtag for your company and your customers to use is a great way to get the buzz out. These hashtags are also great for tracking since they’re so specific to each campaign’s focus compared to your recurring brand or content hashtags.

Social listening is a great strategy for monitoring use of your campaign/ad hashtags and how well they’re catching on with your audience.

Hashtags are just one of the many areas of social media that a business or brand needs to pay attention to. Content strategy, competition and target audience research and other marketing initiatives are also essential.

 

Coast Creative providess social media and digital marketing strategies to businesses. If you would like advice or a no-obligation free consultation for your social media campaigns and content strategies, get in touch.

Based in the Byron Bay region of northern NSW, providing digital marketing solutions since 2002 to local, nation and international clients.