Today, I want to talk about hashtags. Those simple additions you see in social media posts that are designed to enhance discoverability are actually quite complicated when you scratch the surface.
So what is a hashtag?
In a nutshell, hashtags are searchable keywords used on social platforms, which allow users to easily filter interesting content out from the social media noise.
It’s simply a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#). For example, #AreYouReady, #marketing and #love are all examples of hashtags you might see online.
A marketing campaign might use a specific hashtag so that its followers can more easily keep up with associated posts. Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign is a great example of how a brand created a frenzy around one of its products and generated a ton of user-generated content on social media using hashtags.
If used correctly, hashtags are powerful marketing tools!
How are hashtags used on the different social media platforms?
Twitter loves hashtags! You see tweets with hashtags all the time and there’s a good reason for that.
Not only do hashtags in tweets help them to be categorised and more easily located via Twitter’s search facility, but they also appear as actual clickable links in the tweet itself, which when clicked show other tweets that contain the same hashtag.
Twitter users who want to see more tweets related to a topic that interests them can quickly and easily do so by clicking the hashtag. That’s why including relevant hashtags in your posts can get your extra exposure. However, while there is no limit to the number of hashtags you can include in a tweet, I (and Twitter) recommend no more than two.
Instagram can sometimes seem like a hashtag jungle. That’s because some users absolutely cram their posts full of hashtags!
While they can complement photos and help people pick up followers, their biggest use on Instagram is for the various photo challenges that are run.
Again, there’s almost no limit to the number of hashtags you can use in a single Instagram post [Buffer says the maximum is 30], but think about how much value you are adding by including loads. Sometimes, it can look a bit spammy and actually detract from the overall post.
Don’t do this:
First and foremost, you shouldn’t, in my opinion, use hashtags on Facebook. Now people may say “but it doesn’t hurt”. The reality, however, is that it actually might.
According to a 2016 report from BuzzSumo, which was compiled following analysis of more than a billion Facebook posts from over 30 million brand pages, posts without hashtags experienced greater reach than those with hashtags added.
So, next time you’re wondering whether to add any hashtags to your most recent Facebook post, think about what you want to achieve. If it’s for a competition you’re running then go for it, but I wouldn’t bother for normal posts.
Whether you should use hashtags on LinkedIn is still open to much debate. Some people say you should, others say not to bother.
While they are supported, they do not appear as clickable links (like they do on Twitter). This limits their value somewhat. Nevertheless, LinkedIn users can use the platform’s search facility to look for posts containing certain hashtags.
Use no more than 3-5 hashtags per LinkedIn post and be sure to keep them relevant to the topic, industry or purpose at hand.
When choosing hashtags, try thinking in terms of keywords. Would you search for ‘tips’? What kind of results might you get out of this really broad search term?
The best hashtags are long form, specific and clear. For example, if I click on #temporary in a tweet, what kind of results will I get? Will they be relevant to ‘temporary staff recruiting’? Probably not.
If you’re not sure what hashtag to use, do a search and see how the hashtag is being used by others (if at all) and what results it is associated with. If you can’t think of any good hashtags, it’s better not to use any at all.
Don’t be like this:
How do you use hashtags? Do you have any specific tips you can share?
Social Media Consultant
I’m a Social Media Consultant and all I want is to help small local businesses to navigate through the sometimes confusing world of digital marketing.