If you use almost any kind of social media no doubt you would have noticed that hashtags are now very much a staple inclusion in social media platforms and posts. But how much do you really know or understand about what hashtags actually are, what purpose they serve and why it is so important to not just use them, but get it right when adding hashtags to your posts?
Here we’ll take a look at all of that and importantly, how you can use hashtags to benefit your business.
What does a hashtag look like?
Let’s start at the beginning.
A hashtag can be identified as a string of letters (and sometimes some numbers too) that are preceded by the hash or pound symbol (#). Further to that, and quite crucially, the string of letters usually comprises a word, phrase or acronym. The other important thing to note is that in order to generate the hashtag there should be no spaces within the whole string from the hash symbol at the beginning through to the last letter.
Should a hashtag have capital letters?
Unlike the compulsory requirement to have a hash symbol at the start and no spaces throughout, there is currently no strict convention with regards to whether hashtags should contain all lowercase letters or a combination of upper and lower. Social media platforms recognise all hashtags the same regardless of the capitalisation used. As a useful hint, for hashtags phrases that are a little longer or are comprised of a few words, it may be beneficial to use capitals to make the hashtags easier to read. It is not so necessary for single word hashtags. For example, the hashtag for Clarity Marketing and Communication could look like this #claritymarketingandcommunication or this #ClarityMarketingandCommunication.
What does a hashtag do?
A hashtag serves to a group or categorise together social media content that is similar or related in content. It can be likened to how keywords used on a website help the site to be listed when that particular word or phrase is searched in a search engine.
Once you have correctly created a hashtag and added it to your social media post, it becomes an active link that users can follow to be directed to other content that has used the same hashtags.
In the reverse scenario, users that may not already be familiar with your page or profile can find your content if they are exploring posts using a particular hashtag that they are interested in.
Why are hashtags important?
In short, hashtags are an important tool to be able to promote and expand the reach of your brand and profile across social media platforms. By using hashtags that are relevant to your brand and your target audience you can use the immense power of social media to increase exposure and engagement for your brand which can then lead to potential sales and revenue.
How do I know which hashtags to use?
Well, that really is the magic question, isn’t it? If only there was a magic answer! There is no exact formula or a specific one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to selecting the best hashtags to use for your social media posts. But there is definitely a lot of information to consider and resources available to guide you in how to find and create the best hashtags for your brand and social media profile. So much, in fact, that it’s worthy of its own post. And so we’ll cover this in a lot more detail in a separate article to come soon.
How many hashtags should I use and where do I put them?
Advice regarding the recommended number of hashtags to use and the best place to put them on each post varies quite a lot from one social media platform to the next. As does the maximum number that you are permitted to include.
- Facebook and Twitter: it is recommended to use 2 – 4 hashtags per post. They can be located at the end of the post or dispersed within the content.
- Pinterest: allows up to 20 hashtags per pin. Hashtags must be placed only in the pin’s description field.
- Instagram: allows up to 30 hashtags but you don’t have to use them all! It is common practice to place hashtags at the end of an Instagram post.
Tips for using hashtags on Instagram
When adding hashtags to your Instagram post you might consider using a series of “return” and dots/full stops or “return” and asterix to position the hashtags separated from the post content, making for a better user/reader experience.
There is currently no strict recommendation regarding the “optimal” number of hashtags for an Instagram post. While Instagram does allow up to 30 hashtags, some research suggests that great engagement can be achieved when using around 8 or 9 tags. Having said that, some brands are able to get amazing results from much less. Some say that using the full 30 keywords is generally not a good idea as it can be perceived as, and considered, spammy which obviously has a negative effect on engagement. Although, there is an opposing school of thought that makes the point that you should make use of every single tag opportunity that is available in order to maximise the reach of your post and get it in front of as many people as possible.
Find which hashtag strategy works best for you
Of course, as with any marketing campaign, the outcome is ultimately going to be determined by the relevance of the content that you use (in this case it’s hashtags) to your brand, your message, and your audience. The good old saying of “quality not quantity” really applies here. Don’t feel compelled to fill out the Instagram 30 hashtag quota, just for the sake of doing so. The best approach is to experiment and find what works best for your brand. A great place to start is to have a look at what others in your niche are doing. This will serve as a good indicator for both the type and quantity of hashtags that might perform well for you.
It’s certainly no secret that social media continues to evolve at a rate of knots. And so it figures that your hashtag strategy needs to remain dynamic too. This is definitely not a set-and-forget scenario. You should do just as the developers of these platforms and their avid users do – keep experimenting, researching and changing things to find what reaps the best results work best for you and your business.
The marketing professionals at Clarity Marketing and Communication can assist you to develop and implement a social media strategy designed to optimise your online exposure and engagement. Contact us today to discuss how you can achieve maximum benefit from the very powerful marketing tool of social media.