There is no escaping hashtags on social media – they’re everywhere.
But what are they, how do they work and why should your business be using them?
A hashtag is a keyword or phrase that is joined together with no spaces and is preceded by a hash (#) symbol. For example #picoftheday #happyhour and #shoppingaddict. These hashtags can go anywhere in your social posts, in the beginning, in the middle, or at the end. Hashtags collate public conversations from different users into a single stream. These can be found by clicking on a hashtag or by searching for it.
Hashtags are popping up all over the place. From our television screens to shops and restaurants. We’re now aware more than ever of hashtags and look to join in the conversation on an array of topics. Whether it is Apple’s latest product launch or our favourite reality TV programme. For marketers, hashtags are a powerful tool to have in your armoury for expanding reach or becoming part of those conversations too.
Using a hashtag is as simple as dropping it into your post and publishing it – but it’s crucial you choose the right ones! A good hashtag needs to relate to the message you’re conveying in your post and should be memorable yet simple to remember. Don’t be tempted to use popular hashtags on unrelated posts. People will not get it and will disengage. Do your research across social channels and find the most commonly used hashtags that are relevant to your industry. A quick way to do this is by using a tool like Hashtagify where you can type in a phrase like ‘marketing’ and you’ll be presented with related hashtags plus stats on its popularity. If you’re going to use a hashtag specific to your business, check all social channels to make sure it isn’t being used for something with an entirely different meaning that could be damaging to your brand image.
The optimum number of hashtags to use is not uniform across social channels. With a cap of 30 on Instagram and the limitations of the 140 character count on Twitter – there’s a definite difference between channels. Research* has shown that tweets with one hashtag perform better than those with multiple tags, similarly Facebook posts with one hashtag outperform those with more. Instagram, on the other hand, has more interaction on posts with nine hashtags.
If you’ve started a conversation using a hashtag, then don’t forget to keep a close eye on how it performs. This involves responding to queries, complaints, or feedback given by people who use the hashtag. This way you’ll start to build momentum and grow a community around your hashtag. Don’t forget to closely monitor how customers have reacted. Whether people are actively using the hashtag and whether your engagement or following has increased too.