Do You Need a Hashtag for That?

Do You Need a Hashtag for That?

Since 2007 we’ve been using hashtags to categorize social media content. Uniting conversations around events, celebrations, pop culture, locations, and other areas of interest – hashtags can add value to posts, when used correctly. They can also increase the visibility of your brand to individuals who have an interest in specific topics, and your brand itself. That being said, ten years later and many people are still uncertain of how to properly use and benefit from hashtags. If you’ve questioned hashtag usage, here are some tips to help you, and your business, use hashtags correctly:

1. It’s important to know how to use hashtags on each social network.
Hashtag usage varies from platform to platform, which is probably one of the biggest mistakes social media users haven’t fully grasped just yet. Knowing the basic “rules” for each platform and following them accordingly can benefit you in the long run and keep your followers happy. Here are a few guidelines for the top three social networks:

For Facebook, hashtags don’t really work for standard content. Facebook posts without hashtags have higher engagement rates. But, there are exceptions to be considered. If a business is hosting an event or running a campaign across various platforms, using a specific, branded hashtag can help to connect all of those networks, giving users the opportunity to search for the tag on more than one network and effectively boost your reach. Again, this an exception. If you feel like something is worthy of hashtag usage, the best bet is to only use one meaningful, relevant hashtag. (Two if you must.) Just remember, posts that are sans hashtags make for better content.

For Twitter, hashtags can be used to index keywords or topics across the network. Users can follow topics of interest, engage in conversations with others, or even mute specific hashtags to prevent content from showing up in their feeds. The platform itself recommends using no more than two hashtags per tweet.

For Instagram, hashtags are everything. Using just one hashtag on an Instagram post results in 12.6% more engagement. As you add hashtags to your posts, the photo will appear on corresponding hashtag pages alongside other public photos and videos using the same hashtag. (If you have a private account, your hashtagged images will not appear on these featured pages.) You can use text, numbers, even emojis to create hashtags, but be aware – you are limited to 30 hashtags per post. But, hashtags can be added to both your captions and comments.

2. Hashtags should be short, to the point, and catchy if possible.
If your first inclination is to use an entire sentence as a hashtag, resist the temptation. #Itshardtounderstand, for one, but it also won’t connect you to other social users, defeating the purpose. It’s also important that you don’t break down a sentence and #make #every #word #into #a #hashtag. See how obnoxious that is? And again, it serves no purpose. And remember – hashtags cannot contain spaces or punctuation, they will interrupt the tag.

Simple and concise hashtags are key to reaching a larger audience and garnering higher engagement. Locally, hashtags are often used to connect people to cities, events, etc., so you don’t want to overcomplicate things. For example, #ShareLouisville and #LouisvilleLove are two popular hashtags for almost any photograph taken in the city of Louisville. If you attend an event and that event has a designated hashtag, like #ForecastleFestival, you can see what others are doing at that event, or possibly find your own photo featured on another page for the event itself.

3. Using specific hashtags makes a difference.
Now that we’ve discussed the brevity and rules for hashtags, it’s time to address relevance. We already know hashtags are used to connect us to other social media users and increase visibility of brands, but not just any old hashtag will do. Just because a hashtag is trending does not mean you should use it. If your hashtagged message/photo isn’t relevant to the hashtag, people will notice and you will actually lose engagement due to that irrelevancy.

So, if you post a photo of your dog at the office hashtags like #DogsOfInstagram and #ILoveMyJob are great, but don’t be tempted by #Beyoncé, just because you know it’s a popular tag. (Obviously, there’s an exception if your dog is named Beyoncé.) Bottom line: Meaningful hashtags will make your post go further, start conversations, and even earn you new followers when used correctly.

4. Research popular hashtags, it matters.
Using hashtags that have already generated buzz can be a great way to connect to followers and potential followers. Finding relevant hashtags can be as simple as letting the social network offer suggestions via their autocomplete feature (Instagram), referencing Trending Topics (Twitter), running a quick Google search, or using a service like Tagboard. By embracing popular hashtags, you can increase your post’s exposure and reach new audiences.

Hashtags can serve social media users on both an individual level and professional level, and these are just a few tips to take into consideration. If you still have questions, or need help with your social media – we can assist you. Our team specializes in social media marketing and would love the opportunity to transform your brand’s social image and strengthen your customer relationships.

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