How To Use Hashtags Effectively In Social Media
Instagram posts that feature at least one hashtag receive 12.6% more engagement than those that do not. This is because hashtags give posts context and make discovery easier for consumers. That’s a pretty good case to be sure you are using hashtags effectively. But, how can you ensure you are? And, what are the best channels to use them?
The possibilities for hashtag usage and hashtag campaigns are endless, so use these basic tips to get started.
1. Do research to find hashtags for existing campaigns and topics of conversation
Sometimes you will want to use hashtags that already exist to engage customers in a particular topic. To begin, run a hashtag search to identify different tags and their popularity. A few popular tools for help in identifying effective hashtags in your niche are:
RiteTag offers instant hashtag suggestions in real time engagement.
Hashtagify.me is a tool that allows you to search for popularity and trends of hashtags.
Another good method to use is determining what hashtags influencers in your niche are using regularly. Influencers are the people whose voices are most trusted and listened to, such as celebrities, famous bloggers, and YouTube users. Buzzsumo is a great tool to help you find the top content, bloggers, publications, and writers in your area of expertise.
2. Create your own brand and campaign hashtags
With millions of hashtags being used it is difficult to stand out, so you will need to design hashtags that are specific, relevant and unique to your own product/service or campaign.
Hashtags should be short, easy to pronounce and give users a better idea about the topic of the conversation or tweet stream. Ensure those you pick are relevant or they will hurt your credibility. They need to be memorable as well. Remember, no spaces, punctuation marks or special characters. Use capital letters to differentiate between words, such as #MBMarketing. Unique hashtags are critical to campaigns and specific product and services. Use them in conjunction with already established hashtags to bring more awareness to your posts. Encourage consumers to use the hashtags to further reach.
For example, Coke produced bottles and cans of their products labels that read the phrase “Share a Coke With…” and each can had a different name or title, such as “Share a Coke with Mom.” It was able to successfully turn this into a hashtag campaign by encouraging drinkers to Tweet their own stories with the hashtag #ShareACoke. This campaign generated not only a lot of Tweets, but also gave Coke the opportunity to create new sub-campaigns. For example, submitting a bottle or can with the name “Ryan” on it could win you a chance to #ShareACoke with Ryan Seacrest.
3. Use hashtags on multiple social media channels.
While use of hashtags started on Twitter, they are now used across many social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinerest. The number of ideal hashtags to be used per post is dependent upon the social media channel used.
When using Twitter, remember that hashtags tend to be more focused on a certain topic or conversation. Hashtags on Instagram, on the other hand, are used more as image descriptions and generally more hashtags can be used without seeming spammy. When you are trying to get more exposure for your Facebook posts, using hashtags may help, but don’t use more than one or two. More than that will make you seem unprofessional. On LinkedIn, people haven’t always emphasized the use of hashtags, but if you publish long-form content on LinkedIn, you can use one or two hashtags in the body of your post.
4. Use effective hashtags in your social media strategy
Only use multiple hashtags if it helps make your post more effective. Don’t use them with the intention to show up in as many searches as possible. Keyword stuffing will make you less relevant and reduce your value. If you’re concerned you won’t reach as many people with so few, remember that the more hashtags you include in one post, the less engagement it will get.
In a nutshell, if you are doing any of the following, consider revisiting and revising your hashtags to make them more effective.
- Making hashtags so long that they cannot be remembered
- Creating hashtags so broad that your posts do not show up in a feed
- Overloading your posts with every possible related word you can imagine
- Adding hashtags irrelevant to the post
Hashtags, if used correctly, though, can become powerful tools to grow your reach and audience. They will make your content more discoverable and more likely to be shared, too.