hashtags

Hashtags: Is Your Brand Using Them Correctly?

Who would have known the pound sign would turn into a useful marketing strategy to help increase your brand’s awareness! You might recall that it was once only known as the number sign, the framework for a game of tic-tac-toe, and still today, as a prompt in automated phone calls. Which makes it much more fascinating that this symbol has become a social media phenomenon since its humble beginnings on Twitter in 2007.

While millennials might know this symbol best, it’s imperative to know that 40% of social media users are over the age of 65. Older generations might be in the dark about how to use hashtags effectively to their brand’s advantage.

Over the years, we’ve noticed a disconnect between understanding what a hashtag is and using them correctly. Throwing several hashtags under a post with no purpose or strategy won’t elevate your brand’s visibility or engagement. Sure, it looks easy as you scroll through your social feeds, but ask any social media expert and they’ll tell you the hard work that goes into crafting hashtag strategies. Think of hashtags like keywords for Google, as they’re used in a similar fashion helping your target audience discover you. 

What exactly is a hashtag and why should your brand be using them as part of your social strategy? 

The idea itself is basic in nature. A hashtag is a way to index a keyword or topic of interest. Once you hashtag a word or phrase, it becomes discoverable by other users on that social platform. If your social pages are set to private, your hashtag won’t aggregate with posts sharing the same hashtag. So be sure that your pages are set to public if you’re wanting to build brand awareness, an online community, or promote an event. 

Once a hashtag is widely used, it becomes a “trending topic.” Here’s where hashtags get tricky; just because a relevant keyword is trending on your page, it doesn’t mean it’s trending for everyone. Why? Notice I used the word relevant. Social algorithms are based on several factors; location, connections, and interests, etc. As an example, if you’re a bank, you’re less likely to see beauty tips and tricks trending on your feed. 

Posts with hashtags result in an increase in likes, visibility, and engagement 

We know that’s exciting news BUT be cautious about overusing hashtags. Yes, using too many hashtags in a post can result in being considered spam and won’t get eyes on your content. Is there a sweet spot? Are there certain hashtags you should be using? What’s the ideal number? The answers might surprise you. 

Facebook: 1-2 hashtags per post seem to work best. If used appropriately and most importantly, strategically, they’ll work. When I say appropriate, I mean not every Facebook post requires a hashtag. Using them specifically for conferences, events, and national holidays seem to work best.

Pro tip: When curating hashtags for your post, a little research goes a long way. Check to see how many users are following your hashtag(s) of choice and how many posts are indexed under each. Common sense would tell you that 20.5 million posts is hard to compete against. Instead, aim for posts in the thousands, not millions as you’ll have a better chance of your content being seen by new eyes. 

Instagram: Users commonly use anywhere between 5-30 hashtags. Opinions seem to vary on this platform, and while past research showed that just nine, well-researched hashtags would work, new research has come to light stating the importance of using all 30 hashtags for each post. 

Pro tip: Instagram’s insights (along with other social media scheduling platforms) provide the ability to see how successful your hashtags were within a post. Whether it helped you to gain more followers or increased your engagement rates, it’s a nifty tool to use to your advantage. 

Twitter: The hashtag’s birthplace! With Twitter’s limited 280-character count, this isn’t the platform to go overboard with hashtags. Twitter’s Dos and Don’ts claim 1-2 relevant hashtags is all you need.

LinkedIn: Hashtags are new to this channel as of 2018. Since LinkedIn is more formal in the sense that it’s primarily a B2B/employment platform, hashtags need to remain professional and work appropriate. #Don’t #do #this #on #LinkedIn! Limit your use of hashtags here as well. 1-5 is LinkedIn’s sweet spot.

Pro tip: Using generic hashtags on any social media platform without a strategy won’t work either. You want to stand out from the noise, not get lost in it. 

#SmallButMighty, The Hashtag is Here to Stay

This symbol is a big key to bringing the online community together (including brands and consumers) as a whole. Now that we’ve hashed out the details of what it takes to properly use a hashtag, let’s get your next social campaign up and running!

Struggling with implementing a hashtag strategy #foryourbrand? We’d love to help you optimize your brand’s social media strategy in order to grow your brand’s message. In doing so, this will allow your brand to connect with your audience, leading to more meaningful interaction with consumers. 

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