Hashtags: Why are they important and how best to use them

You may have noticed that social media posts are often using hashtags at the bottom of their posts. Using hashtags is essentially a way to group together conversations or content around a certain topic of interest, or theme, making it easy for people to find content that they find important or interesting.

Hashtag marketing can be used on just about any social media platform, but they’re most popular on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.  A strong social media strategy should include a mix of popular, relevant, and branded hashtags.

Why are they important?

A hashtag is any combination of letters or numbers, without spaces, that follow the # symbol.

Hashtags expand your reach beyond just your immediate followers. They make your content more discoverable.  Using hashtags can help you build your community online. People can choose to follow specific tags, this means they could see your post in their feed even if they don’t follow your business or brand yet which may lead to more followers, more interest and ultimately more sales!

How to use hashtags effectively

When using hashtags, be mindful not to make your hashtags too generic. For example, if you use very general terms like #happy #beauty or #fashion, your post will face stiff competition from potentially millions of others. As a guide, try not to use hashtags with over 500k public posts. A better approach is to use a mix of trending, industry-specific and branded hashtags to find the best tag to connect with your targeted followers.

For the best results, research each hashtag. Look at the type of content and the number of likes on its top-performing posts—if your content matches up, you’ve got yourself a winning hashtag.

The number of tags you use is also important. While Instagram allows for up to 30, a mass of tags underneath your caption risks looking both untargeted and unprofessional. The Instagram Creators account has advised users to stick to a 3-5 hashtag limit in captions. Even one hashtag can increase engagement on your post by up to 12.6%.

To help decide which is the right number for your brand, identify how many tags your competitors and sector influencers typically use, then experiment with differing volumes on your posts until you find your sweet spot. Once you decide on your number of tags, make sure about a third of them are related to that specific post, the remaining two-thirds can relate to your overall business. For example, if you’re using ten hashtags, make three of them for your specific post and seven for your overall business.

Using hashtags on Instagram

When using Instagram, your hashtag will be clickable. This means that anyone who clicks on a specific hashtag or searches by hashtag will be able to see all the public posts tagged with that hashtag. People can also choose to follow hashtags on Instagram.

Recent changes suggest that Instagram is slowly moving towards semantic keyword search, a semantic search attempts to apply user intent and the meaning (or semantics) to find the right content.

Using hashtags on Facebook

Like Instagram, hashtags can be included in any part of your written Facebook post or in the comments. You can also use Facebook’s search bar to search for a hashtag, or click on one see a feed of posts using that same tag. It is important to note, however, that as most Facebook users have private profiles, you will only be seeing the hashtags from public posts.

Using hashtags on LinkedIn

LinkedIn has recently introduced hashtags. They work in the same way as Instagram and Facebook, in that they group together all posts under the same hashtag categories. You can also search for a specific hashtag in LinkedIn’s search bar. Adding relevant tags to your LinkedIn posts can help people find your page and expand your post’s reach.

Simple and free

Using hashtags in your social media marketing strategy is a free and simple way to increase organic reach and create a conversation around your brand. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tags and see what works and what doesn’t. It might be helpful to see what other businesses in your industry are using and play around with trending and branded tags.

Alternatively, if you would like some professional advice and direction for your business’ social media marketing strategy, contact us for a free no-obligation consultation.