Hashtags, what are they and how important are they, really? Every minute thousands of images, videos, sound clips and links are posted on social media platforms. In the increasingly crowded social media space businesses need to stand out amongst the crowd. Unless you have a huge following the likelihood of your posts being missed is quite high. This is where hashtags come into the picture (pardon the pun). Hashtags came into their own when Twitter was launched into the social scene. Nowadays they’re used as common practice across all media platforms.
Defining the hashtag
A hashtag is a keyword or phrase preceded by the hash symbol (#). Written within a post or comment to highlight it and facilitate a search for it. Essentially, by including hashtags in your post; it will be indexed by the social network and search engines so that it can be discoverable to everyone. Even if they’re not your followers or fans. For example, if your company is based in Hobart and your desired audience is both local residents and visitors to the city you could use the hashtag #hobartandbeyond to tap into the tourism sector of your client base.
Instagram (and social media in general) has been changing the rules of the hashtag game. And with that, we need to change our methods of engagement from the types and frequency of our hashtag usage. Focusing on more what, how, and when we post our content, so it counts most.
To put it simply, Instagram has divided their hashtags into three different categories, generic, community
These hashtags are the least specific of the three, but they do help with random discovery by users. However, the drawback is if you use the same hashtags too often your account could be flagged as ‘spam’ which you don’t want. This type of hashtag is more like a generalisation. And when it comes to business, it doesn’t work. Most businesses, or almost every business, have a niche (a specific type of product or service). And using a broad hashtag is akin to stabbing wildly in the dark. So, if you are going to use a generic hashtag, make sure you mix them up. Generic hashtag examples are: #travel, #love, #paradise
Related to the gathering of people who have similar interests or have similar content. Some examples of these communities are #fromwhereistand and #ihavethisthingwithfloors. To find these look at your followers and the types of accounts and people they follow. The narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the following.
Unique to your business, branded hashtag, they can be your business name or tagline, specific product name. They can be helpful in encouraging UGC and increasing exposure specific to your business, services and products.
Don’t make your hashtags too long and hard to read, and, check your spelling.
Last but not least, you can now follow specific hashtags on Instagram, and so can your followers. This game changer will either boost or kill your visibility. Which is one of the reasons why using the relevant hashtag is so important. Once a hashtag is followed you’ll be given suggestions from Instagram of other hashtags, accounts, images, content that may be of interest. A form of organic discovery, using Instagram centric algorithms and hashtags. By following specific hashtags you’ll be able to see what other people are doing. Who is using the same hashtag and if this is on point for your business, brand and target audience.
Plus, you’ll gather a cache of hashtags relevant to your industry as deemed by Instagram. If that’s not the golden ticket, we don’t know what is!
A closer look at social platforms & what works best
- Between 3-5 hashtags in your description, and up to 10 in your comments.
- To keep everything organised and visually appealing. It’s best to put your hashtags at the end of your caption preferably separated by either dots or asterisks. If you’re a bit OCD, you can also add your hashtags in a comment to your post (10 maximum).
- Instagram’s algorithm has always favoured specific and relevant hashtags. Using hashtags that make sense is super important. That’s because users now have the power to edit your hashtagged content as something they don’t want to see.
- Instagram insights will give you an outline of which hashtag groups are working best for you. From there you can narrow down your hashtag use to the ones that are most effective for you, and your business.
- Surprisingly the use of a hashtag is not very important on Facebook, it’s the title, heading or description that punches its weight.
- Use hashtag groups, but keep them to an absolute minimum, a branded hashtag is the best course of action.
- Content posted on Facebook can now be cross-posted onto Instagram if images are part of the post.
- Don’t use more than 20 hashtags per pin (that’s a lot!) and they only work in the pin description.
- More than two hashtags have been shown to reduce visibility and reduce the tweets to being allocated as ‘spam’.
- Unlike Instagram, hashtags can be used anywhere. In the tweet, whether as part of the text or afterwards, it makes no difference. #But #don’t #tag #every #word – #its #annoying #to #read.
Google+ and LinkedIn
- The humble Hashtag can be used, but they don’t impact the visibility of the post. Again, focus on using branded hashtags only.
- On LinkedIn, the most important feature is the fact that any activity on posts (e.g. likes, shares or comments) are broadcast on the wall of everyone who is following your company or you as an individual. An easy way to get exposure is to post regular content and encourage engagement.
*This post was originally written by Wayfairer for Digital Dandy If you’d like help or some further information about coaching services in relation to digital media, social strategy and business presence online get in touch here – info (at) wayfairer.net