If you’re active on social media, chances are you’ve come across a hashtag or two (or ten). But what exactly are hashtags, and why are they important? Let’s dive in.
Simply put, a hashtag is a keyword or phrase that is preceded by the pound sign (#). It is used to mark a keyword or topic in a social media post, making it easier for users to find and engage with relevant content.
For example, if you’re posting about your digital marketing business, you might include the hashtags #marketing #digitalmarketing in your post. Other users who are searching for or interested in marketing-related content can then easily find your post by searching for these hashtags.
However, hashtags aren’t just useful for finding content. They also play a role in building and participating in online communities. Many social media users follow specific hashtags to stay up to date on the latest news, trends, and conversations in their field or industry. For example, women working in the fields of technology usually use the hashtag #womenintech.
In addition to connecting with like-minded individuals, using hashtags can also increase the visibility of your own content. When you include relevant hashtags in your posts, they have the potential to be seen by a wider audience, including users who may not already be following you.
General tips for using hashtags
So, how can you make the most of hashtags on social media? Here are a few tips:
Choose relevant hashtags: As mentioned before, it’s important to use hashtags that are related to the content of your post. This will help ensure that your post is seen by users who are interested in the topic you’re discussing.
Mix it up: Use a combination of popular and niche hashtags. Popular hashtags can increase the visibility of your post, while niche hashtags can help you connect with a more targeted audience.
Don’t go overboard: It’s tempting to include as many hashtags as possible in the hopes of reaching a wider audience, but using too many hashtags can actually have the opposite effect. It can make your post appear spammy and decrease engagement. Stick to a few well-chosen hashtags for the best results.
Hashtags are a powerful tool for connecting with like-minded individuals and increasing the visibility of your content on social media. Use them wisely and watch your online presence grow. If you want to get into specific with your hashtag strategy, you may also be guided by the following guidelines per platform.
Quick guide to hashtags strategies for each platform
Twitter was the platform that popularised the use of hashtags, and they are still widely used on the site. Twitter users often include multiple hashtags in their tweets, particularly if they want to join in on a trending conversation or make their content more discoverable.
While technically you can use any number of hashtags within the 280-character limit in a Tweet, Twitter recommends using a maximum of two. Anything beyond that can be seen as forced and spammy. Hashtags can be placed anywhere in your Tweets, such as at the beginning for emphasis, at the end for context, or in the middle to highlight a specific keyword. They can also be added to Retweets, replies, and your Twitter bio.
Hashtags are also popular on Instagram, and users often include multiple relevant hashtags in their posts to increase the visibility of their content. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but it’s generally recommended to use fewer, around three to five to avoid coming across as spammy.
To keep the focus on your caption and make your content more accessible to text-to-speech readers, consider posting your hashtags as the first comment on your post. Grouping hashtags at the end of your caption (or in a comment) is also one of the most effective ways to use them.
If you’re using an Instagram business profile, you can view insights on your posts, including the number of impressions generated by hashtags. To access this data, select the desired post and tap ‘View Insights’ below it. Swipe up to view all the insights for that post. The data from this can help you decide which hashtags to continue using and which aren’t helping at all.
Aside from hashtag performance, take note that if inappropriate content becomes associated with a hashtag on Instagram, the platform may choose to ban it. This does not mean that the hashtag cannot be used at all, but rather that clicking on the tag will only display top posts, with no recent posts or Stories associated with it.
It is important to check if a hashtag is banned before using it, as using banned hashtags can lead to a decrease in engagement and potentially affect the effectiveness of legitimate hashtags. Additionally, hashtags that solicit likes and followers, such as #followme, #like4like, #follow4follow, and #tagsforlikes, should be avoided as they tend to attract spam accounts and users who are not interested in genuine engagement. Using these hashtags can also give the impression that your brand engages in spammy behaviour, which can harm your reputation.
While hashtags can be used on Facebook, they are not as widely used or effective as they are on other platforms. This is because Facebook’s algorithm does not prioritise hashtags the way Twitter and Instagram do. However, if you want to use hashtags on Facebook, it’s still important to choose relevant hashtags and use them sparingly. Two to three per post is generally effective.
Hashtags can be added to any part of a written Facebook post or in the comments section. They are also useful for organising content in private Facebook groups based on theme or topic. Brands should keep this in mind as private channels, such as Facebook groups, continue to gain popularity.
Since many user profiles on Facebook are private, it can be more difficult for brands to track how users are interacting with their hashtags. To monitor your brand’s hashtags and see which public profiles are participating in the conversation, use the URL facebook.com/hashtag/_____, replacing the blank with the desired keyword. This will allow you to search for and view related posts and profiles.
Hashtags are also used on LinkedIn, but they tend to be used more sparingly than on Twitter and Instagram. LinkedIn users generally use one to five relevant hashtags per post, and focus on using industry-specific or professional hashtags rather than more general ones. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional platform so it’s best to use business-related hashtags.
Hashtags on YouTube are useful for increasing the visibility of your brand’s YouTube videos, but it’s important not to use too many of them or else, YouTube may ignore all of them and potentially flag your content as spammy.
Use relevant hashtags to make it easier for users to discover your videos, and consider adding them to the video title or description. This could include industry-specific hashtags, as well as more general ones related to the topic of your video.
Be sure to follow YouTube’s community guidelines when using hashtags, as inappropriate or spammy hashtags can result in your videos being removed or your account being suspended.
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