From The Blog

What’s in a #HASHTAG?

OK, so what exactly is a #hashtag?

I remember when I first started using social media, the concept of the hashtag made no sense to me. The extent of my knowledge was that Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon sketch on Late night that went viral.

And yes, there are definitely times when hashtags can get out of control. But they’re also an integral part of your social media strategy. Use them ineffectively, and you look like a social media amateur who just logged on to a computer for the first time in ten years. Once you’ve got them under control, you’ll be a social media savvy expert in no time, and expand your followers and influence to boot.

OK, so what exactly is a hashtag?

Why use hashtags?

Hashtags are the way that thoughts, ideas and conversations are catalogued in the world of social media. It’s how concepts are made searchable. There are many, many reasons to start a hashtag, or to use one that’s already well known.

Where to use them

Right now, Apple just launched it’s first Instagram page, and it’s using content exclusively shot on iPhones. It created #shotoniphone to encourage people around the world to share their photos. Now, every time Apple searches #shotoniphone, anyone who has also used that hashtag will come up in the results. The same general concept is used for Twitter, Facebook, and most other social media platforms. But don’t assume you can use them in the same way.

FACEBOOK

2.38B

TWITTER

330M

INSTAGRAM

1B

PINTEREST

250M

Facebook

So after I sing the praises of hashtags, the first thing I’m going to tell you to do is NOT use them on Facebook.

Well, not without some serious thought.

While Facebook does have clickable hashtag, it’s not something that users often add in their posts. According to Andrew Hutchinson of Social Media Today:

“While Twitter is, in the majority, an open network, where everything you tweet is added into the wider, global conversation, Facebook’s more private, more aimed at hosting discussions among your immediate connections and networks.”

There’s some really interesting research that Facebook posts with hashtags actually get less reach than those without.  However, the best way to try and figure this out is to test it carefully with your own business. Start with one hashtag, and keep an eye on how much engagement your posts gets to see if it’s actually worth it. Otherwise, focus your hashtag attention on more #friendly platforms, like Instagram.

Instagram

In general, people live to hashtag on IG. In fact, posts with at least one hashtag on IG average 12.6 percent more engagement than posts that don’t.   But there are still some rules of decorum you should be aware of before #you #start #hashtagging #every #word #in #your #caption (hint, don’t do this).  Everyone and every account is different, but I typically combine branded hashtags (hashtags that are specifically about your business) with community hashtags.

The number of hashtags you’re allowed varies depending on opinion, but 6 is generally pretty acceptable. Another practice many businesses employ if you need more than six is to leave 5 lines, and then post the hashtags. You can also post them in a comment below what you’ve just published. Honestly, the topic of hashtags for IG is huge, there’s another blog in the works just on that. Stay tuned.

Twitter

Before you start hashtagging on Twitter it’s really, really important that you do your research. Look up the hashtag you’re thinking of using. Are other people using it? Is it a topic of conversation? If people are already using it, how? If you’re doing something brand-specific, make sure you start with something fairly neutral and innocuous. Because hashtags are public property, after you start them, they can potentially go sideways (see this iMedia article for examples).

On Twitter, hashtags can be extremely powerful tools and connect your business with a global audience:

“Hashtags are great for centralizing conversations around live, in-person events or conferences, live webinars, or other marketing campaigns you’re running,” ( Magdalena Georgieva, Hubspot).

Generally, you’ll want to use 3 hashtags or less for Tweets – mostly because with 140 characters, you don’t have room for more.

Tip: If you want to see how hashtagging can bring a community together, try watching an anticipated TV episode (Game of Thrones anyone?) and search for relevant hashtags. As you continue to watch and search the hashtag during the course of the show, you can see every tweet that people are writing coming from all around the world. Essentially it shows they’re reaction to whatever is happening in the episode in real time, which is a great connector.

 

Fun Right?

I find though it’s best to just try it, little by little. You’ll be surprised with how quickly you get the hang of it.

Give hashtags a try!

Thoughts? Send 'em my way.

Serving Southwestern Ontario
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cara@ccsocial.ca