Before we dive in, let’s break down the basic facts of a hashtag:
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media channels and apps to identify and categorize messages on a specific topic. It may be helpful to think of hashtags as keywords or labels relevant to a particular theme in the content.
The first-ever hashtag was used on Twitter back in 2007 by Google developer Chris Messina – fast forward 12 years and now every major social media platform supports the use of hashtags. When you use a hashtag, your post becomes visible to users that follow or search for that particular hashtag on that platform.
Realistically, you can hashtag anything, but should you? The answer is no, but our helpful guide can help you get the most out of your hashtags.
- Use Hashtags That Are Relevant to What You’re Posting
Let’s say Suzy from Vancouver is making an Instagram post about her hand-painted seashells. Some relevant hashtags are #SeaShells and #Vancouver – but don’t throw in #InstagramCats. You won’t be reaching the right audience and you may confuse them.
The relevance also rule is also useful to help ensure people can easily find your hashtag. Followers may be inclined to search for #SuzyShells but won’t think to search for #SuzysReallyPrettySeaShells.
- Get Creative
Don’t be afraid to be creative with your hashtags and come up with a unique one relevant to your business. Utilize your unique hashtag when you post and followers can adopt the same practice when they post content related to your business. This creates a great page full of user-generated content (UGC) that can help reinforce a trusting relationship between the brand and its customers.
- Don’t Over Hashtag
We’ve established that hashtags can be great for getting your content noticed, but don’t #spam #your #post #with #too #many #hashtags. This dilutes the ability for your post to reach your intended audience, is difficult to read, and you may just start attracting spammers. A great method for keeping your caption clean and easy to read is to place all your hashtags (your “hashtag bank”) at the very bottom of your post.
- Encourage Others to Use Your Hashtag
Invite your audience to use your branded hashtag when they post relevant content to share their experiences, opinions, or anything else that links them to your company. You’ll be able to see what other people post when they use your hashtag, thus giving you another way to interact with your audience and provide customer care.
- Know How Many To Use
As we’ve established, hashtags are only useful if they are being used properly. While each platform supports a different number of hashtags, there are recommendations as to how many you should actually be using. Are You Social recommends the following:
- Facebook: 0-3
On average, posts with less than 100 characters do best on Facebook. There is no need to jam-pack your post with a ton of hashtags. Rely on the hashtags most important to your business and your post. This includes using popular and branded hashtags.
- LinkedIn: 4-7
Similar to Facebook, you only want to use the most relevant hashtags. If you use too many, there is a chance that LinkedIn could flag your posts as spam.
- Instagram: 5-30
Instagram is the home of hashtags. Users, especially businesses, are encouraged to use up to 30 hashtags per post (the maximum allowed by Instagram). Multiple, relevant hashtags encourage discovery and can help boost your following.
- Twitter: 2-5
Twitter only allows 280 characters per post, so choose your words carefully. Similar to Facebook, only use hashtags that are important and truly help convey your message.
It’s clear hashtags are useful for your regular posting strategy, but keep in mind that you can use them for a variety of other things including events, product launches, campaign slogans and more!
For example, the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics were a hugely anticipated event. Visa, one of the largest sponsors, created the #TeamVisa campaign. Visa, spectators and athletes all utilized the hashtag before, during and after the games.
Hashtags are also heavily used to support a variety of movements and some brands use the hashtags to show their support. Remember back in 2014 when you couldn’t scroll through your newsfeed without seeing your friends and family getting doused with cold water? That was all thanks to the #IceBuckChallenge, a movement used to raise money and awareness for ALS. Popular brands like McDonald’s, Old Spice and Samsung took part and voiced their support. Chili’s even went as far as to call out other brands like Dr. Pepper and AppleBee’s to participate.
Understanding hashtags is crucial to your social media strategy. At Are You Social, we make sure to keep up with the latest hashtag trends to help grow your business and communicate with your audience.