Since the hashtag first hit the social media scene, it has swept users off their feet. The simple symbol has secured its place in our culture and is not going anywhere anytime soon.
When first coming into contact with this popular social strategy, it can be a bit overwhelming and confusing to understand and employ properly, especially for businesses’ social strategy. But, with a bit of guidance and advice you’ll be a hashtagging pro in no time at all.
In this article, I’ll answer six of the most common questions surrounding this technique and provide a breakdown of the best practices for each social media platform.
6 Common Hashtag Questions
- What is a hashtag? A hashtag is simply the pound sign (#) in front of the word, words or phrase you are categorizing your topic into. Common trends that are sorted using a simple hashtag could be #Gift or #Shopping.
- How do I enter the conversation? Figuring out what hashtag is the best fit for the topic you are trying to write about can be hard. Thankfully, there are quite a few websites designed to follow trends and help users identify them. Hashtags.org, TweetChat.com, Twitter.comor Twubs.com are good options to find real-time information on hashtags and conversations with lots of traction.
- How do I use multiple words? Many categories have hashtags with multiple words in them such as #ThrowbackThursday or an event name like #MarchMadness. When using multiple words in your hashtags, keep in mind that any punctuation and spaces will end the hashtag. To help readers, capitalize the first letter of each new word to make it easy for them to identify what you are saying.
- Can I make my own? Absolutely! Creating your own using keywordsfor your customers and followers to use is a great way to spread the word about your business or event. Simply place the pound sign (#) directly in front of a keyword (like your business name) or a unique, catchy phrase related to your product or services. Don’t forget to share them with your followers and encourage them to use these branded tags when they are talking about you! It’s a great way to get customer feedback about a new product or service and gain valuable insight to what people are saying about your brand
- Is it okay to use more than one? The answer is yes, but up to a point. The most you’ll want to use per post is three, with the exception of Instagram, because research shows engagement actually declines when 4 or more are used. Not sure what else to add? The site Hashtagify.Me is a great way to find hashtags related to any word or phrase you want to use.
- Should I only use hashtags on Twitter? Even though Twitter is the birthplace of hashtags when it comes to social media, using your hashtags across all of your
channels will establish consistency. Many social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and Google+, have integrated the use of hashtags to allow your followers to easily identify you. However, how hashtags are used on the platforms varies slightly.
How to Use Hashtags the Different Platforms
Before we dive into each individual platform, it’s important to understand that all of the social media sites share a few basic rules when it comes to hashtags.
- Don’t use punctuation or special characters; doing so will break the tag.
- Watch your spelling. Most spell check programs don’t recognize hashtags, so it’s up to you to make sure the spelling is correct. Misspelling a word in the tag will make it harder for people to find you.
- Other than on Instagram, limit yourself to three tags per post. Studies show that engagement dramatically drops with social media updates containing any more than that.
- Hashtags are only visible in platform search results when profiles are set to public. Profiles set to private can still use tags; people outside their social platform circles will not be able to see them though.
How to Use Hashtags on Twitter
While Twitter is the birthplace of the famous hashtag, forever changing the way people see the leading symbol (does anyone even call it a pound sign anymore?), there are some things to keep in mind when using them.
- Hashtags using relevant words relating to broad topics allow you to break up information into smaller chunks while still cataloging them together when someone searches for it – making the most out of a limited character count.
- You can use as many hashtags as you want (within the character limit of course), but Twitter’s help section recommends using no more than two in an update; Three Girls suggests using at least one to two (no more than three) on every post.
Using Hashtags on Facebook
In June 2013, Facebook finally jumped on the hashtag bandwagon. While many people were already using them on the site, the platform did nothing with them before this time. Here are a couple useful tips for using hashtags on Facebook.
- Trending hashtags on the platform are typically created by influencers and brands since most people have their personal accounts set to private, giving your content a greater chance of being seen using them.
- Use only one specific hashtag per update and place it at the end of the post. Doing this will catalog your message without having the tag distract from what you have to say.
- Don’t include hashtags in every post, but instead save them for when you want your update to be part of a larger conversation or drive awareness for something specific.
Using Hashtags on Instagram
Instagram is the perfect platform to use hashtags for your brand. It’s a great way for your business to have its content indexed with similar pieces, and the site provides the perfect opportunity to use them to build brand awareness. These points will help you make the most out of them.
- Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per photo or video posted, including comments posted by the same user.
- This is one of the only platforms where it is okay to more than two or three hashtags – what’s important is how they are used. In the initial photo caption, we recommend using a maximum of three tags, but in a comment immediately following the caption you can use the remaining tags allowed so a broad range of users will see your content. This keeps the update clean for followers, but still
gives your brand the benefit of up to 30 hashtags.
- The platform is also the only one that allows you put an emoji in the tag.
- Take advantage of the opportunity that Instagram provides with hashtags to share your brand and highlight what makes you different. For example, Three Girls Media uses the tags #ThreeGirlsMedia, #ThreeGirlsTips, and #EffySays with updates when appropriate.
Using Hashtags Google +
Google is currently one of the largest search engines on the web and sets the bar for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Knowing this, the site also makes its hashtags searchable. With this information, it only makes sense that you have including tags a priority on Google +. Here are few points to keep top of mind.
- Your tags should be relevant keywords. Using specific words that are appropriate for the update and your brand will help it be found on Google.
- Use at least one hashtag on every post, but don’t stuff tags in where they don’t belong. Just like for websites, keyword stuffing is a big no-no for SEO.
- Only tag words and phrases that are relevant to your brand and post.
- Limit your update to three hashtags; Google prioritizes the first three, so using more than that isn’t beneficial.
Using Hashtags on LinkedIn
The latest social media site to join the hashtagging game is LinkedIn. As this is a platform for professional networking, how you use this technique for your business needs to be strategic and purposeful. These guidelines will help your brand use them effectively.
- Apply Industry and topic specific tags since the platform’s users are there to build professional relationships.
- Save it for the end; keep your main message clean without the distraction of the hashtag.
- Unless you absolutely must, only use one per post. Again, this is a site for career and business interactions; don’t muddle up your post with a bunch of random tags.
Using hashtags can be an extremely useful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. Use them to your advantage to build relationships and a make your brand known! By keeping the above suggestions top-of-mind will help you maximize your efforts and reap the rewards of what hashtags have to offer.
Do you have any other recommendations on how to use them? Share your thoughts or questions with us below then check out these additional articles on social media marketing from the Three Girls team.
- Social Media Management: 5 Steps to Success
- Social Media Marketing: How to Choose the Right Platform
- How to Boost Brand Awareness with Social Media
- Keeping Up with Social Media: How to be Number One Like a Kardashian/Jenner
Special Offer:Sign up for a complimentary consultation during March and receive a Social Media Management Guide valued at $375! We offer a 30-minute phone consultation with our CEO, and can answer your questions and discuss your specific marketing needs - no strings attached. Call 408-218-2391 or contact us today to arrange yours!