Chances are, if you’ve been on the internet then you’ve probably encountered a hashtag. They run rampant within social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and—though uncommon—LinkedIn. They act as live links that redirect the user to a feed where other people are using that same hashtag. If the hashtag in question is popular, then that feed will continually be updated with new content.
The coolest part about using hashtags is that they lead to the opportunity of targeting audiences you may not yet have reached. This is especially notable for brands who are still in the stage of developing an audience. Hashtags make your product or service discoverable. Instagram posts in particular, receive 12.6% more engagement if they contain at least one hashtag. I’m no mathematician, but I’ll take those odds opposed to zero engagement.
Dos and Don’ts
… use hashtags related to your content
This one should be obvious, but use hashtags that are actually applicable to your product/service. By doing so, you can lure the correct audience you’re trying to target.
… encourage your audience to use your brand-specific hashtags
By encouraging users to hashtag your specific brand, you open a door to the world of free advertising.
… utilize trending topics
This time-sensitive “do” requires strategy and a bit of luck. Check trending hashtags often and if they’re applicable to your business, take advantage of their popularity to create brand awareness.
… study your competition’s hashtag use
Your competitors are not only using social media, but they're also utilizing hashtags across their platforms as well. If you don’t know where to start with social media campaign, look to your competition for guidance.
… analyze your posts with Instagram Insights
Though this only applies to Instagram, it’s important to analyze all the hard work you’ve put into your posts. If you’re a business, Instagram has a fantastic built-in tool that allows you to determine which hashtags are gaining impressions and engagement, and which ones are not.
… misuse trending hashtags
This is similar to the first “do” listed in this article. There’s nothing more annoying for users than when they search for a hashtag and get results that are completely unrelated to what they searched for. Misusing hashtags simply because they are trending may get your brand noticed, but often times, this will result in a negative experience for the user. And the last thing you want is a negative interaction between your brand and a potential customer. After all, your brand is defined by how your audience feels about your product or service.
… go overboard
Less is more in regards to hashtags. Twitter limits you to 160 characters; that’s not a lot of room for both content and hashtags, but that’s nothing to worry about. In fact, Twitter posts that only contain one hashtag tend to generate the most engagement. Instagram on the other hand, limits you to 30 hashtags, but that doesn’t mean you need to use every single one. Users generally view posts using all 30 hashtags as spam, but posts with 9-10 hashtags tend to perform the best on this platform.
Hashtags are a sure way to introduce your brand to new customers and increase engagement with users. Use them wisely. Or have Jarbo do it for you ;)