Much has been said about hashtags – the short links starting with the pound sign # – and they are an integral way to communication on social media. The hashtag turns ordinary words into searchable terms and allows one to customize shares for our individual brands. It also allows one to share projects and creative works to a particular company or group of individuals.
There are several types of hashtags, including branded hashtags (meaning, your own brand or those of others, be it their brand name, tagline, product name, or even an event), community hashtags (think of these as groups with a common interest, such as #ihavethisthingfloors or #photooftheday), niche hashtags (a narrow scope of interest with engaged users, such as #decorativepainting) and general hashtags (i.e, #diy, #birthday, #happy, and #furniture).
How are hashtags supported in each social site? Let’s take a look.
Facebook added hashtag support in 2013 and although searchable, there are times that the search can yield incomplete results. Through various tests, Facebook has been shown to penalize shares with more than two hashtags in their algorithm, so if using them, use them with focus and very sparingly.
Twitter was the first site in which hashtags were used to categorize tweets. This was in 2007 and now, they are used for trending topics and have search filters for each hashtag, including separating shares from all of the Twitterverse to merely those you follow. Hashtags are also the basis for successful Twitter Chats. Now that you can tweet using 280 characters, there is more space for hashtags, too, though try to avoid using too many as your tweet will look spammy.
Last October, Pinterest added the capability to add and search hashtags on their feed. Please note that hashtags in account descriptions, board titles, board descriptions or profile names are not clickable at this moment – only the hashtags in the actual pin description have that designation. Of course, use the hashtags sparingly as too many of them may negatively impact your ranking. Pinterest has also said that hashtag searches are serving up fresh pins so spending time updating old pins might not be worth the effort, however, if you do repin an old share, that would be a great time to add hashtags.
Instagram is arguably the best social platform for hashtags. In fact, posts with at least one Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than a post without and there are reports that posts with 11+ hashtags do best. With a limit of 30 hashtags per post, however, your focus should be targeted and not look like spam. A rule of thumb is to temper using the more general hashtags such as #art or #beauty. The reason is that the hashtag is so saturated that the chance of a new fan catching your particular share is incredibly slim. Stick to those that are more targeted to your audience without the millions of shares. This is the perfect time to add the branded hashtag of a company whom you’d like to share your project with. Hashtags are also prevalent on InstaStories so be sure to use them there as well.
How do you find the best hashtags for you? Research! Engage with your followers and see what type of hashtags they are using. Chances are, you are interested in the same subjects. Take a look at your competitors to see what they are posting as well. Review the shares of industry leaders and look at using some of their shared hashtags. You can also find related hashtags to your favorites by using the dropdown menu on Instagram as you type a hashtag – very useful! I always like to give back as well. If I use a particular hashtag, I will engage with a few users whose shares I like in that hashtag, too. One final note – be sure to create and use hashtags for your own brand as well!
I hope you had a few more insights into hashtags for social media. My best recommendations? #HaveFun, #JustDoIt and continue to #LearnbyDoing!