Hashtags were first used on Twitter because of the platform’s brevity. Since then, the use of hashtags, their reach and their effectiveness has continued to grow. They are no longer limited to Twitter; hashtags are used across most other social platforms too.
Research has shown that hashtags increase engagement. A post with at least one hashtag on Instagram, averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. So, it really is worth creating a hashtag strategy for your brand if you want to grow your account!
First up – let’s cover the basics of hashtags:
- They always need to start with a # and they won’t work if you use spaces, punctuation, or symbols
- Use relevant hashtags – you want to use hashtags that relate to your content, but they also need to be something other users are likely to search! If it is too random, no one will search it and then there is little point in using it.
- Make sure your accounts are public – this may seem obvious, but if you have private accounts, there is little to no point in using hashtags, because users who are not following you will not be able to see your content if it is set to private!
- Don’t use too many hashtags with a post as it can look a little spammy.
Should your business be using hashtags?
Well, the simple answer is, yes! If you are creating content that you want to be seen and you want to grow your following organically, then hashtags are a must. Here’s why:
- They help your audience find you – on Instagram and LinkedIn people can follow hashtags as well as users. If you use a few popular hashtags, it can be another way to help people find your brand. For example, if you use #baking on your posts, those who follow that hashtag will see your post on their feed (even if they don’t follow you) and you may gain some new followers this way.
- Hashtags can show your business supports social issues. For example, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is nature. Both #MHAW2021 and #ConnectWithNature are trending across social platforms.
- If your business is involved in a social issue, you can create your own branded hashtag to help promote this. It is a great way to share your brand’s support.
- Hashtags can add context to your post – long captions don’t tend to get great engagement, so you can add some captions to add context.
- Hashtags work well for monitoring your brand
Should you use generic hashtags?
Well, to be honest it depends on the hashtag. Hashtags such as #followme or #likeplease which are soliciting follows and likes are not likely to engage your followers and it also looks spammy, however, other more generic hashtags such as #ThrowbackThursday or #MondayMotivation are good ways to get involved in a trending conversation. Generally speaking, if it feels spammy, it is likely to look spammy, so think carefully about which hashtags you use!
Do’s and don’ts of hashtags:
- Use hashtags in the copy of your content. It is fine to use a hashtag in the middle of a sentence, as long as it is short and clear. This is especially useful on Twitter with the character limit.
- Do use popular hashtags such as #MondayMotivation or #ThrowbackThursday but make sure they are relevant to the content you are posting
- Do use capital letters in your hashtags as it makes them easier to read, especially those that are more than one word.
- Do encourage others to use your hashtags. This can help promote your brand and expand your reach. This will also enable you to monitor your brand more easily.
- Make your hashtags too long. #ThisIsHardToReadEvenThoughItHasCapitalLetters. Long hashtags are difficult for consumers to read. Keeping your hashtags short and sweet will ensure easy consumption and make your tags more impactful.
- Use hashtags that are not relevant to your content. If a hashtag is trending but is irrelevant to your content, don’t use it. While using it may increase your visibility, it is spammy and the end user will be frustrated to see content unrelated to their search. Users will not react favourably to this.
- Don’t hashtag every word! There is such a thing as too many hashtags!
Hashtag usage has exploded since its introduction in 2007. Today hashtags are everywhere and have quickly become a crucial part of marketing. Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign is one of the company’s most successful campaigns to date and increased sales more than 2% back in 2012. By taking time to use hashtags properly, there is no reason your business can’t benefit from the extra exposure.