Did you ever see the hashtag video with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake? (If you haven’t seen it, watch it here.) In the video from the Late Night Show, the guys were hilariously poking fun at the over-use of hashtags, but I’m here to tell you that hashtags are actually a very useful tool in your social media toolbox.
In today's post, I’ll go over what hashtags are exactly, and how to go about using them on social media.
A hashtag is simply the pound sign (#) followed by a keyword or phrase, no spaces. Like #greensmoothies or #farmersmarkets. They are used as a way to label or organize your posts into categories of interest to make them easier for people to find on each platform.
Staying with the food theme, let's say I wanted to make a smoothie. I might hop over to Pinterest or Instagram to search #smoothierecipes. This would return to me a never-ending result of all the posts tagged with #smoothierecipes. If you're a blogger who blogs about smoothies - you want to use that hashtag so you'll come up in that search.
When you're creating a post on social media - we'll get to the individual platforms a little later - is to include it in the caption of a social media post. This will essentially label your post so it shows up in search results along other posts with the same tag.
When using a hashtag for your business, put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. Think of what your customer would actually be searching for and do your research.
Now, unfortunately for us, hashtags do not work exactly the same or with as much impact on the various social media platforms.
No worries - I’m going to break this down for you by platform-hopefully it helps to clear things up a bit!
Using a hashtag on Twitter will group your post with others like it for easy categorizing. Use no more than two hashtags per tweet, because you only have 280 characters to work with - choose wisely!
Searching and clicking into hashtags on Twitter are great ways to join conversations relevant to your brand, learn what's trending, and share your knowledge with others.
Bottom Line: Use hashtags every time you tweet, but keep it to 1-2.
Here, hashtags have not caught on quite like on Twitter.The drawback with using hashtags on Facebook posts is that privacy settings can get in the way of hashtagged posts being seen - so they're not terribly effective.
However, I still like to use them on Page posts for emphasis, or when creating an expected post each week such as #hairtiptuesday for a salon.
Note - you can't OWN a hashtag, but you can use it repeatedly and encourage others to use it with user generated content (UGC.) This is called a "branded" hashtag.
One place where hashtags work very well is in managing Facebook groups. Use them to label posts, and encourage your members to do the same to keep like content together. For instance - "ask" if they have a question or "tip" if they're sharing a nugget of wisdom.
Bottom line - Use hashtags very sparingly on Facebook, except for emphasis, or in a group where a system for tagging is established, and DO NOT copy a block of them directly over from Instagram!
This is my favorite place to use hashtags and they make such a difference when it comes to visibility of your account! Instagram chooses what posts you'll see based on how you've engaged with that kind of post in the past, and how often you've engaged with that account's content - plus many more variables that give priority to posts that get the most engagement.
However, one of the primary ways that people use Instagram, is to search by hashtag to find new posts and accounts sharing posts about things they’re interested in. This is why hashtags are so important for visibility! This helps people who are not following you to happen upon your account.
On Instagram, you are allowed 30 hashtags per post, and I like to use all 30! The trick is to post them all in a comment, and not your caption. Otherwise, your carefully worded caption gets drowned out by hashtags and people move along without interacting with you.
It's important to research the hashtags before - you don't want to get lost in tag results that have millions of photos. Conversely, if you use one with too few posts, no one is searching that hashtag. Gotta find the sweet spot!
Note: You can also use hashtags in your Instagram stories - this will help you to be discovered!
Bottom line - be sure to include thoughtfully researched hashtags in every post on Instagram - up to 30!
Hashtags are a relatively new addition to LinkedIn - but they can be very effective here! They act very similarly as in other platforms to categorize your content. Use hashtags that are relevant to your post in order to help it to reach folks who may be interested in that what you have to say.
Bottom Line: They work great - stick to less than 5 per post.
Finally, there is Pinterest, the glorious online bulletin board of ideas and inspiration! (I'm on the fence with whether or not it's REALLY a social media platform - but hashtags are effective here, so I'm going with it!)
It's important to use relevant keywords in your Pinterest pin descriptions so that they'll come up in searches anyway. Adding hashtags can further impact your discoverability. It's a good idea to search around and do some research on the platform before posting to see what terms people are actually typing into the search bar.
Bottom Line: Use thoughtfully researched hashtags - no more than 20 per pin.
So - Hashtags are essential on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, and I wouldn’t worry too much about using them on Facebook.
#Boom! Now you're a pro! Let me know if you learned something today - or if this is old hat for you.
And, if you're looking to sharpen up your social media skills, have support in planning your content every month, AND connect with other amazing business owners, check out my online membership - The Classroom.
See you out there on the socials!