I see a lot of people or businesses out there using hashtags and not knowing what they really stand for and how helpful they can actually be, especially if you’re a business owner or entrepreneur with focus on the digital world. Hashtags — those short links preceded by the pound sign (#) — may seem confusing and unnecessary but actually it makes your own content discoverable and allows you to find relevant content from other people and businesses. But they are integral to the way we communicate online, and it’s important to know how to use them.
On Social Media, the pound sign # (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link related to that topic. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords. So, if you wanted to post about the a topic on mental health, you would include #MentalHealth in your content, in order to join the conversation and see all the posts that mention the subject in real time. If the hashtag you have placed doesn’t have a trend when you click on it, then it’s not significant. Have a look on this site to track down the best hashtag keywords used in the world on whatever topic you have in mind: Hashtagify
How to Use Hashtags
Knowing how to use hashtags is fundamental to your success on social media. Here are a few best practices to help you achieve that success.
How to Use Hashtags (DO!)
Create a powerful and trending hashtag!
If you want to create a powerful and trending hashtag for your business or why not, yourself, there are a few rules to remember if you truly wish to make an impact to the target audience. Example: #photooftheday - 284 million posts and counting on Instagram!
1. Clear hashtags
Begin by thinking of a short and clear hashtag of not more than 3 words. Define the event or topic clearly by using words that are easy to read and understand. Use proper capitalization, numbers and descriptive terms that will let people know what it is about just by looking at the title.
2. Invite people
Begin inviting people to join the hashtag or participate weeks in advance. You can contact them personally by sending direct messages or tweeting about the hashtag.
3. Post relevant content
Hashtags should always include useful and fresh information that people keep referring back to. People are more likely to respond and engage if you provide content that is well-researched and different from what others have posted online.
4. Study the results
After each hashtag campaign, use analytics tools or other assessment apps that will indicate how well the hashtag trended within a given day or week.
5. Find key users
The most relevant individuals are those who actually participate in your campaign and online contests. Thank and acknowledge these important individuals and provide them rewards whenever available. You should also participate in their online activities to return the favor.
Be specific when using hashtags
The more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be and a targeted audience generally means better engagement. If you don’t have your own business hashtag, find one or two existing ones that really fit the photo.
Cater hashtags to the social network you’re using
While hashtags on all social networks have the same fundamental purpose of content tagging and discovery, the use of hashtags still varies by network. Pay attention to that.
Come up with relevant, unbranded hashtags
Brand hashtags don’t have to mention your brand name, but should represent your brand and what you stand for.
How not to Use Hashtags (DON'T)
Don’t go too long or too clever
In general, if you’re creating a branded hashtag you should try to keep it short and sweet and definitely relevant to the topic.
Don’t have more hashtags than words.
Social media users often used an excessive amount of hashtags ironically or when making a joke. You don’t want to use 30 hashtags on a single post. You don’t even want to use 5 hashtags on a single post. It generally dilutes your message and comes off as desperate. Focus instead on being specific.
Don’t hashtag everything
Hashtags serve to make your content discoverable to a wide audience. The truth is, not everything you produce is going to fit into that category so make sure your content is smart and relevant.
Using hashtags will allow you to make an impression on a wide social media audience. Make sure you’re sharing the best content, and making the right impression.