Hashing Out Hashtags: When, Where and Why to Use Them
If you own a brand, you probably know how valuable hashtags can be. By simply putting the pound symbol in front of a word or phrase, your content automatically becomes more searchable. No matter what social platform you are using, people look to hashtags to see more posts about the topics they care about.
When it comes to hashtagging, many brands don’t know where to start and how to best utilize them. Here are some tips as to when, where, and why you should incorporate hashtags into your social media efforts.
When to use hashtags
“When” to use hashtags will depend on the brand and the social media site being used. Since Twitter and Instagram are the most popular social platforms for hashtagging, let’s start with those two sites. For Twitter, hashtags are typically used when a person or brand is joining a trending conversation. For example, #RoyalWedding was a popular hashtag this past week because of the fact that it was a trending event in the media, and people from all over the world were tweeting about it. One can also use hashtags on Twitter when a post is related to a specific category or topic. For instance, a marketing agency may use #marketing in many of its tweets because it would benefit from having content included on that hashtag’s feed.
On Instagram, the use of hashtags is a bit different. Since there is no set character limit, many people will use large, consistent strings of hashtags in all their posts to make the content more searchable with the hope of getting it to the top of the Instagram feed. If you are applying hashtags in your posts, it is important to note that while you can utilize more of them on Instagram, using the most relevant and targeted ones will ultimately benefit a brand the most. While using several hashtags can expand your post’s reach, you may end up looking spammy and risk reaching a low-quality audience that is looking for post likes or “follow-backs,” which really isn’t beneficial to your brand in the long run.
Where to use them
Once again, the placement of hashtags differs by platform. On Twitter, people typically include hashtags within their post copy so that they do not distract from the overall tweet. This is also best practice, based on the character limit on Twitter and the nature of the short, “snackable” content on the platform. On Instagram, however, many people save hashtags for the end of their post and may even include symbols or emojis to break up the copy. This is useful because you aren’t limited to hashtagging words already in your post copy, and you can add whatever terms are related to your brand as a totally separate entity.
Regarding the platforms where hashtags can be used, Twitter and Instagram aren’t the only options. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest also offer hashtagging as a feature, but they aren’t as widely used and searched on these platforms.
While using hashtags in post copy is important, Twitter and Instagram also allow hashtags in a brand’s bio. This is a great new way for brands to make their overall pages more searchable and relatable. To ensure you are hashtagging terms that will be the most beneficial for your brand, be sure to research and vet the hashtags first. Then, include those hashtags that are the most relevant to the majority of your content.
Why they’re so #useful
Why should a brand utilize hashtags? While there are many answers to this question, let’s start with the basics. A hashtag makes your brand searchable – plain and simple. By not carefully applying hashtags, your brand is virtually invisible to those outside your current following. Utilizing hashtags expands your audience and may even increase your quality and quantity of followers, as long as your content resonates with the right people.
Hashtags can also make your brand seem like an authority on specific topics. For example, hashtags can be used to join conversations about specific events, such as conferences or general business topics. This helps with brand credibility and is a great way to interact more with people in your industry or target demographic.
Overall, hashtags are a great way to enhance your current marketing strategy and increase your brand’s social visibility. From the use of popular hashtags to the creation of customized ones for your specific brand, the main idea to keep in mind is that you never know what is going to work the best for your brand until you try, so hashtag away and be sure to keep an eye on how they impact your social performance!