Wanted to know about hashtags but were afraid to ask?

We get asked all the time about hashtags and when to use them and when not to use them and where and how, so we thought we’d share a little bit to get you started or to get you using them more strategically.

When you see other businesses using hashtags all the time you maybe think “yeh I’ll give that a go” and then realise that its as easy as ……. Well it is not easy full stop and so that’s what you do, stop,

How to use hashtags

What is a hashtag?

Is basically this #.

When it comes to social media, the hashtag is used to draw attention, organize, promote, and connect. They got their start on Twitter as a way of making it easier for people to find, follow, and contribute to a conversation.

While they originated on Twitter, hashtags have now become an integral part of almost every social media platform today. Now, remember that point almost. We will get to that in a bit.

The first part to remember if you have never used hashtags before is this: No spaces, punctuation or special characters. A couple of other points to keep in mind is that you can use capitals, but only for readability as sometimes when people get hashtag happy it takes half an hour just to figure out what some of the hashtags say.

Why use hashtags?

Hashtags help you get found by your target audience. When you use hashtags, your posts become searchable by anyone on that platform. Many people search specific hashtags, so by using hashtags that are of interest to your ideal customer, you increase the chances of being found.

Hashtags can also increase your engagement. Research done shows for example that tweets with hashtags will get twice as much engagement.

How to use them effectively.

First of all, it makes sense to research and have a look at the most popular ones within your industry and there are a number of sites that will help you with this. A word of warning though is to not always go with the most popular. If for example you are a small to medium-sized business or starting out and wanting to get noticed then using hashtags that have millions of mentions can mean that you can sometimes get lost in the noise, so be picky.

You should also get used to using hashtags with every post for the relevant platforms and to make sure that you tailor your hashtags for each platform as well.

Twitter.

First of all, you can look to create your own hashtag that is unique to the brand that allows you to stand out but make sure that it isn’t already being used by someone else and keep it short and simple. If you want people to use it then make sure that it is not too long for them.

Twitter chats.

Twitter chats (otherwise known as a Twitter party or Tweet chats) are monitored public conversations that focus on a topic. They occur when a group of people all use the same hashtag, forming a conversation thread. These are normally planned chats.

Events.

If you are setting up an event then using a hashtag and getting people to share it and add it to their post whilst at the event is a great way to get further exposure for your event being held as well as the run-up to the event.

Instagram.

Hashtags are the number one way of reaching a new audience on Instagram.

This is also the main platform where people will use the hashtag to search for content as well as likeminded people, businesses, and posts.

The first thing here is to not get hashtag happy. Sometimes it’s obvious that someone has spent more time thinking of as many hashtags to use as they can as oppose to the content that they are posting.

You need to make each hashtag count as its an opportunity to reach someone new and so whilst Instagram will allow up to 30 # that doesn’t mean that you should look to use all 30 and so clutter your text with sometimes irrelevant hashtags.

Whilst there is no official word from the gram the rule of thumb is to look to use 10 to 11 hashtags that are relevant to you and your business. So, this should be made up of the popular, narrowed market and then specific to you.

LinkedIn.

While they are new to LinkedIn, they have been a part of the platform for some time now and let us be honest there is still a lot of uncertainty around how to use them.

Like Instagram, you should look to use popular tags as well as ones that are specific to you. For example, if we are posting then we will be using #SocialMediaManagement and maybe #LiveWireMedia that way by using the Live Wire Media hashtag it allows us and others to find our content quicker.

Pinterest.

If you are on Pinterest then you’ll know that they aren’t always used and then they are and then gone again.

Pinterest has a very clever search algorithm and so doesn’t have a need for hashtags and in fact, they are hardly used, but if you are to use them then be specific to what your content is about and do not just throw out hashtags that would elsewhere get you huge exposure.

Facebook.

I have saved this one till last partly to make sure that you read till the end, but also because there is a lot of mixed message on using them on Facebook.

There are a few social media experts–who suggest that there may be a place for hashtags on Facebook and if you are using say #LiveWireMedia (your business #) then there may well be so long as it’s consistent.

As far as we are concerned it’s still a big NO as Facebook has other tools for finding like-minded people, building community, and doing research, so the hashtag isn’t very useful. You need to remember that hashtags are not a way that people use for searching content and people of Facebook.

The main reason for not placing hashtags onto your Facebook posts is because normally (and be honest) it’s because you have shared your content direct from Instagram and or you are using a third-party platform and just sharing the same content across multiple. This is the one certain way to show the world that you have no idea what you are doing and that you are being lazy with your social media, which tells your audience that you don’t really care. If you disagree then remember that perception is the reality in this case and it’s hard to change perception after the fact.

So first, do your homework for each platform that you are active on. Pick your hashtags and stick to them and be selective in the ones that you use. Most of all stop hashtagging on Facebook and letting us all know that you haven’t read any of this.

Stuart

Author Stuart

Media & Marketing specialist, Photographer,Partner,Father,Beer lover & in my own world an ex Rock God

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