Love them or hate them, hashtags are a reality of communicating online. Those words or phrases preceded by a hash mark (#) can make or break your social media efforts, so it is important to understand how to use them well.
Using tags is a great way to link your content to related conversations, helping more people from your target audience to find you. The right hashtag can help drive brand recognition and boost the reach of any post. They are a must for tweets and can also help your posts on other social channels.
Why Hashtags Matter
Hashtags have a place on most popular social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. The hashtag also allows you to connect with and engage other social media users based on a common theme or interest.
The hashtag is an effective way to categorize content on social media. When you use a hashtag in a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest, your post automatically becomes indexed for the term. Anyone who searches for that word or phrase can then find your relevant content. This can help you to increase the reach of any post beyond your direct followers.
First, do your research. Know the proper way for using hashtags on the platform you will be using. Hashtags on Instagram are often focused on a description of the image. On Twitter, hashtags tend to be more focused a topic of conversation. On Facebook, the hashtags can be used, but are falling out of favor.
Search relevant keywords and see if they are used as hashtags on each platform that you plan to use. Take note of whether the content is relevant to you. (Caution: Some tags are used to mark content that you don’t want your brand associated with, so be careful!)
Make a list of tags that make sense. Also make note of tags that would group you with content you don’t want to align with.
Pay attention to the use of hashtags by others who post related content to get a sense of the conventions. Typically, you want to use one or two hashtags in a post Twitter post and more if posting to Instagram or Pinterest.
Choose just one or two hashtags to focus on in social media. These tags should speak for your brand and strengthen customer awareness.
Choose a hashtag that is both easy to remember and clear. Even though acronyms or multi-word phrases might be more specific, complicated hashtags often don’t gain the traction needed to be effective.
Create a new hashtag for online content campaigns and contests. Keep in mind, that when you create a new hashtag you are creating a new audience. That is helpful in some cases.
Campaign hashtags help to gather all the content around your campaign together. A campaign hashtag can drive participation and engagement and will also organize all the posts that are tagged with it on a hashtag page. With this approach you can easily collect entries for a promotion or contest.
Give It a Try
The best way to find your groove with hashtags is to do your research then dive in and experiment. Try different tags to find the one or two that consistently groups you with the most relevant content and gets you in front of the right audience. Experiment with the number of tags and the best placement – front, inline, or at the end.
Note what gets the most traction toward your goals. The number of “likes” if not nearly as important as getting your content in front of your target audience.