You’re probably familiar with #hashtags but using them effectively to grow your social media channels can be a bit of a challenge. We’re here to give you the lowdown.
For the noobs, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the pound symbol. First proposed by blogger Chris Messina in 2007, hashtags have become an internet staple and an essential tool for businesses, organizations, and content creators. Hashtags are used to group content on a particular subject. When users search or follow #digitalmarketing, for example, they get a feed of all the content using that hashtag.
This is incredibly useful in expanding your reach organically to a community of like-minded users. Hashtags are a great way to connect to new followers, build brand awareness, boost engagement, and show support for social issues and causes.
If you aren’t using hashtags, or your hashtag game has ‘no game,’ it’s time to use these tips for mastering the science and art of hashtags.
1. Do Your Research
You can’t just slap a # symbol in front of words or phrases and expect results. Choosing the right ones is key! Check out competitors, influencers, and top brands in your industry to see which hashtags they’re using. Small business and nonprofits can try geo-dependent hashtags like #Ilovejax that are focused on your area, city, or region. Services like Hashtagify.me and RiteTag are also great for exploring hashtag recommendations. Once you’ve compiled a list of hashtags for your industry, location, and audience, you have a solid foundation to work with for each of your posts.
2. Use a Mix of Hashtags
While researching hashtags is important, using the right mix is also essential. Popular hashtags (e.g., #weddings) are used frequently and give your content a wide audience, though their extensive use means greater competition to be seen. Targeted hashtags have less reach (e.g., #jaxweddingcakes) but are focused specifically on the interests of your ideal customer. Using a mix of both increases the likelihood of connecting with new followers. Branded hashtags (#cakebossbattle) can also be created to represent your organization, campaign, or special event.
3. Use Sparingly
There’s nothing worse than a hashtag-heavy post. It’s a surefire way to tell your audience that you’re just trying to grab likes. And nobody likes inauthentic content. We recommend the following number of hashtags per post for each platform:
- Facebook: 1-3
- Instagram: 10-15 (30 max)
- Twitter: 1-2 (up to character limit)
- LinkedIn: 1-3
- YouTube: 3 (in video description)
4. Keep an Eye on Trends
As with any social media strategy, never let your existing methods get stale. The nature of digital marketing is that everything is changing constantly! Make sure you change with it. This means making sure your tried-and-true hashtags aren’t growing old. You can also hop on trending hashtags to gain more exposure for your business or your brand. Things like local events, holidays, or sporting events offer excellent ways to piggyback on a trending hashtag campaign.
5. Reach Out to Your Community
Lastly, social media is about connecting to your audience. It’s about creating a community. Don’t use hashtags just to show up in others’ feeds … use hashtags to find potential followers and engage with them! “If you build it, they will come” is not the best strategy to attract new followers. Use hashtags to get out there where your audience is interacting with one another and become a part of the conversation.
For more on using hashtags, check out this video on our YouTube channel.