Nifty Guide to Hashtags

Nifty Guide to Hashtags

Heather Blackford
Heather Blackford
2 July
Social Media

Hashtags are an essential part of your social media marketing effort. Learn more about how you can boost your social media performance in our guide.

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a combination of letters, numbers, emojis preceded by the octothorpe symbol - #. First used in 2007 to group related Tweets together, hashtags are included with social posts allowing people who are searching to find the content on social media. They make it easier for people to find and engage with content that interests them - meaning that understanding and using hashtags correctly is an essential part of social media marketing. 

Why bother with hashtags?

People are more likely to engage with content that is relevant to their interests. Since hashtags enable you to categorise and label your content,  content that includes related hashtags generates higher levels of engagement than those without hashtags. This is because the hashtags make your posts visible for anyone searching those terms, not just followers of your profile. 

Illustration of people interacting with social media

There are a few more benefits to spending time planning your hashtag strategy:

  1. By using branded hashtags, ie, specific hashtags related to a brand campaign or promotion, you can encourage user-generated content and raise awareness. 
  2. Show support for social or ethical issues - Use a hashtag to connect to a cause that is important to a brand to raise awareness.
  3. Adding context to a post caption by using hashtags can increase engagement. Since caption character count is at a premium, hashtags can help to tell the story. 
  4. Generate new followers - on Instagram and Linkedin users can follow hashtags, and your post will show in their feed if you include one of their followed hashtags. If they are not following you already, they might choose to after seeing your post. 

How to choose hashtags

You might be thinking, why not just use the most popular hashtags? There is a simple reason why this may not be the best idea: they are also the most competitive hashtags. With more competition, your post might not get the visibility it deserves. Also, the most popular hashtags can be quite generic (the most popular hashtag on Instagram is #love), meaning the content of your post might not have much relevance. 

How to choose hashtags

There are a few straightforward guidelines to follow when choosing hashtags:

  • Use hashtags to describe your product or service, your niche in the industry, and talk to your community.
  • Monitor your competitors and pay attention to the hashtags they are using.
  • Analyse which hashtags were successful on your past posts.
  • Learn what 'national days' are relevant for your brand and include the associated hashtag.
  • Include a location tag and consider emojis.
  • Find out which hashtags are trending.
  • Consider daily hashtags such as #ThrowbackThursday.
  • Beware of banned and spammy hashtags.
Hashtag strategy

Hashtag strategy by platform

Instagram

Hashtags are an essential part of Instagram captions and comments. You can use up to 30 hashtags in a feed post and 10 in a story. Some argue the more hashtags, the better on Instagram, although no more than seven is recommended. To keep your caption clean, post your hashtags in the first comment, or hide with a sticker in a story. 
For people with private profiles, their posts won't appear on public hashtag pages. Use Instagram Insights to see how your hashtags are helping visibility. 

Twitter

Use hashtags anywhere in your Tweets - beginning, middle or end. You can use hashtags in your bio, when you Retweet or in a comment. Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags. Find trending hashtags in Twitter's trending topics. 

Facebook

Use 1 to 2 hashtags in your Facebook posts and comments. With a shift to private communities on Facebook, hashtags can be a useful way of organising content in Facebook Groups. Beware that the prevalence of private profiles can make it challenging to track who is using your hashtags. Searching for hashtags will show you the public profiles using them. 

Linkedin

Incorporate 1-2 hashtags into your LinkedIn updates and articles. You can follow hashtags and add hashtags to your company page visible to followers. Find trending hashtags in the 'news and views' section on the home page. 

Pinterest

Include 2-5 hashtags in your Pinterest for Business pin description or repin. When using the mobile app, Pinterest will offer up suggestions for hashtags when creating a new pin. 
 

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