Many of you would have used a #hashtag at some point in your lives, if not regularly, but are you using them correctly? Hashtags can help to increase the visibility of your posts, distinguish your brand and boost your social shares, but if used incorrectly can damage your brand and decrease your social engagement.
So, what are hashtags?
Hashtags have been around since 2007 and have greatly evolved in the past few years. A hashtag isn’t just a hashtag anymore, it’s fundamental in distinguishing a brand and gaining engagement and from a user point of view, helps you find relevant content. It’s a way of categorising your post and allowing others to find it easily and is made by using the hashtag sign # followed by a keyword #authorblog.
What platform should I use hashtags on?
Twitter is known for its hosting of hashtags, and it’s no wonder why as the first-ever hashtag was made in a tweet in 2007 by a man called Chris Messina who wanted to find a way to group tweets together. Instagram has also adopted the use of hashtags, providing stats that show a 12.6% increase in engagement when using hashtags on a post compared to posting without. Next, you’re probably wondering about Facebook. Many Facebook users hashtag away and then ask why their posts are getting no engagement, and no, it’s not because you’re hashtagging incorrectly. Data shows that hashtagging on Facebook is essentially pointless in terms of engagement and studies have shown that posts without hashtags prove to be more effective. But why? Unlike Instagram and Twitter, Facebook doesn’t actively show hashtags, unlike on Twitter and Instagram where they show what's trending. This means that hashtags are rarely used on Facebook and unless someone is typing in your specific hashtag in the Facebook search bar, then your post isn’t going to be found.
How can I use hashtags effectively?
Now that you've understood what hashtags are and what type of platform they should be used on, we can talk about how you can effectively use those hashtags.
Find out what’s trending
On Twitter and Instagram, it will tell you what hashtags are being used the most. It’s especially easy to find on Twitter, you just have to navigate to the search tab and then to the ‘trending’ section. Here’s what was trending in the evening of 18th May 2020.
It’s important to keep up to date with the trends as they can massively increase your post visibility if used correctly. For example, let's say #fishingtrip is trending and your book is about the best fishing trip spots in the world, then by using including #fishingtrip in your post, you’re post will appear in the fishing trip category and every time someone types in #fishingtrip in the search bar on Twitter or Instagram, they could see your post. There are also regular trending hashtags for each day of the week whereby using these could increase visibility on your post dramatically, a few of these are:
Be wary of using too sought-after hashtags
The reason I say this is quite simply because your posts will get lost in the traffic. If you’re only using hashtags that are trending or that have a large number of people using them, then you’ll only have about a second before your tweet is lost in the chain, more tweets will come along using that hashtag and essentially bury your post so no one can actually see your tweet. To combat this, I suggest using one or two trending hashtags and then add a few less-known hashtags too. These hashtags can be anything that isn’t currently trending. Less popular hashtags = more time your tweet will stay on the page and be seen.
Please, do not spam
There’s nothing more off-putting than a post which is plagued by hashtags that actually take away from the actual post itself. Here’s an example of what not to do:
In the tweet above, it’s difficult to even focus on the text without being bamboozled by the number of hashtags used. Instead, try to use between 2-6 hashtags on a post. A helpful way to disguise the number of hashtags you use is to include the hashtags in your actual post. Here’s an example:
Hashtag in the comments on Instagram
Instagram is a photographic type of social media. Posts are done through uploading pictures and there is no option to write a text-only post. You can add text underneath your post but it should be short, a sentence or two, even possibly a short paragraph but no more than that, it’s why this text portion is called a ‘caption’. This means that even adding one or two hashtags to your post can distract from the main message, but an easy way to get around this is to do all your hashtagging in the comments. It works in exactly the same way as if you were tagging in the post section.
Creating your own hashtag
Going back to why hashtags are important, as said they help to distinguish a brand and build awareness which is done by creating your own hashtag. This is most effective when done as part of a competition. Here’s an Instagram competition post example:
The above post says that in order to win $50 all entrants need to do is take a photo in their T-Shirt and share it on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #BraveTee as well as tagging two friends, they’ll then be automatically entered into the prize draw.
When creating your own hashtag remember these points. A hashtag should be:
• Memorable - it needs to be something users can easily remember and type in with ease
• Unique - it needs to be unique to your brand or what you’re selling, if it’s too vague then it won't do the job of distinguishing your brand and leading users back to you
• Marketable - it needs to be something users find comfortable sharing, so it can’t be anything racist, homophobic or otherwise inappropriate
And that’s how you use hashtags correctly and effectively. Now, get hashtagging!
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