What are Hashtags and how to use them

hashtag featured

There are 3 types of people in the world:

  1. People who use hashtags regularly and have mastered their use
  2. People who kind of get it, but aren’t too sure
  3. People who have no clue what they are (or still think it’s called the pound button or a game of tic-tac-toe)

If you use social media often, then you have seen the tremendous use of hashtags. But, do you even know what they really are or how and when to use them? Hashtags are actually quite powerful in the social media marketing world, if you use them correctly. Hashtags can help get your message/post etc., discovered by your targeted audience. This will raise brand awareness and will create engagement with your brand and business through your content.

Today, we want to help you understand them a bit and a few tips to using them to boost your branding.

What’s a Hashtag?

Why should I use hashtags?

Hashtags make it easier to find and follow discussions about trending topics, people, promotions, events etc. When you use hashtags that are relevant to your post, topic or business, you have higher odds of having it discovered by others searching for those hashtags.

How should I use hashtags?

You can either create your own hashtags or use existing (trending) ones as well. The best suggestion is to use a little of each (i.e: one that’s hot and trending, one that is popular but not “trending at the moment” and one that is uniquely yours. Also, don’t be afraid to test different hashtags. You will notice that some bring you more traction than others. Stick with the ones that work for you!

If you are creating a hashtag make sure it is memorable, unique and relevant to your post (or company).  Unique hashtags may not take off as well as a trending hashtag, however if you are marketing an event, live chat etc., it is great to have one. For example: If you host a live “twitter chat”, you can get lost in responses. However, if you have a unique hashtag like: #CaspianChats, you can then search twitter specifically for this hashtag and participate in chats with hundred (or thousands) of clients and prospects wanting to speak to you.

Lot’s of people use hashtags for special events like weddings, which is another great example of how it works. A bride may tell her guests to use something like “#QuinnSPencerWedding17”. Once the wedding is over, they can then search through social media and find all of the uploaded pictures from guests who used that hashtag.

Public vs Private pages:  Hashtags coming from a private social media page, will not show publicly (unless you are connected with the person on that social media channel). Make sure your social media is not set on private if you want to use hashtags. (And, if you are a business, your business social media should always be open and never private.)

A few hashtags “do’s”:
  • Images paired with hashtags actually boost views and promote additional engagement
  • Use trending hashtags relating to your content. This is a great way to gain followers who are specifically looking for YOUR content. (twitter is a great place to view what’s trending!)
  • Use personalized (easy and fun) hashtags to promote products, campaigns and contests. This is a great way to also track what people are saying about your product or event!
  • Take some time to check the popularity of a hashtag. Some hashtags with little traction may not be as useful to you since they are not popular. This may bring you low traffic. On the flip side, some hashtags are SO popular that they may get lost in the trending world shuffle. Again, play with a few different ones and see what set of hashtags work best for you.
  • Group your hashtags at the end of each post. This will make your post easier to read.
Hashtag “Don’ts”
  • Don’t overuse hashtags. Nothing is more annoying than reading a post and #every #other #word #is #a #hashtag OR #MakingAReallyLongOneThatCantBeDeciphered. Keep it simple so you don’t take away from your post, content and it’s overall message.
  • Don’t mis-use trending hashtags! If you are an author posting about a new self help book release and you are hosting a giveaway, then you want to find hashtags that relate to books, authors, giveaways or the content of the book (self help etc). You would not want to use something like “#LakersChampionship2017” just because it’s trending.
  • Do not use someone else’s personal campaign hashtag – If a company like “Loreal” (makeup) has an ad campaign and creates a hashtag like: #BeautyWithLoreal, do NOT use their campaign hashtag for your own marketing. It is actually highly frowned upon.
How to use Hashtags on social media
  • Facebook: While you can use a few hashtags on Facebook, this is not really the popular place to do so. Most people on facebook are not searching particular hashtags in the search box. Facebook hashtags are actually mostly used by personal profiles.  It is also said that posts without hashtags actually do better than those with them. You can test this out and see what works best for your business. Try a post with just a description and link/picture and repost it again at another time with hashtags. Then take a look at your analytics. (Tip: If you are paying for ads on facebook – your ads absolutely can not have their trademarks hashtagged. It will get declined)
  • Instagram: Hashtags on Instagram make your business’ photos more discoverable by your target audience. (make sure it’s a great photo!) And therefore, may lead to many new followers!  At the moment, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags on a post. Posts with at least 11 or more hashtags show to have a higher interaction rate than those with just a few. A great way to check Instagram for a hashtag’s popularity is via the instagram search bar. If the hashtag has  daily interaction, it may be a good one to use. If you type one in that has a small history (a few to a couple hundred photos) maybe skip that one. Also, always add your hashtags either under your post content OR as the first comment on your Instagram photo. Make sure you do this quickly. Instagram won’t update the hashtag with your content after a minute or 2 has gone by. Post your photo and content and post your set of hashtags right away as a comment! (Keep your hashtag lists ready in a copy and paste format in a word document. This way you will always be ready!)
  • Twitter: Tweets with hashtags get 2x more engagement than those without. However, using more than 3 hashtags can decrease your engagement. Since Twitter only allows 140 characters, use the majority as your content and just add 1 or 2 simple hashtags afterwards. Twitter’s trending hashtags are always listed on the homepage. If any are relatable to your content – this is a great place to pick one to use! Also, Twitter is the BEST place to host “twitter chats” with your own unique hashtag. Since twitter is very fast paced, this helps you not lose track of conversations and questions.
  • Pinterest: At the moment, pinners really do not use hashtags. Why? Because Pinterest works more like a search engine, like another “Google”. Therefore, Pinterest relies on your use of keywords, not hashtags! Now, while you can search for a hashtag in Pinterest, we suggest focusing on “keywords” in your posts and descriptions.
How Do I Find Hashtags to Use?

As mentioned earlier, Twitter is a great place to view the top trending hashtags for the day (hour). You can also use the Instagram search bar. However, if you are looking for more ways to find some great hashtags for certain topics you can try websites like: hashtagify.me

Simply enter your topic in their search bar and it will populate the page with hashtags and their stats. The example below shows a search for the word “diet”, shows its popularity as a hashtag and gives a few other options and ideas of hashtags to use.

Using the correct set of hashtags can really help get you discovered by others. They are definitely worth a shot. If you feel a certain set is not working for you, switch them up a bit and keep trying. Keep track of which ones are working for you and make sure you use them, (and sprinkle in a few new ones while you are at it).

When used properly, hashtags can be a very powerful tool for connecting with thousands (or millions) of new audience members prospects, clients etc., worldwide! Have you started using hashtags? If you have not, we encourage you to use our tips above and let us know how it works for you!

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