What are Hashtags? How to Use Them on Social Media
What Are Hashtags and Why Should I Care?
If you regularly use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram then you've no doubt seen the "#" symbol next to word(s) in a posts. These are "hashtags".
Hashtags allow you to designate key terms in your posts on social media platforms. Any user can run a search for a specific hashtag and see a list of results. So, let's say you're interested in seeing content about photography; You can actually run a search for #photography in the same way you'd look up someone's profile!
For example, let's say you just posted one of your new blogs to your social media page. It may look something like this:
"Happiness is truly within your reach. Here are 8 tips to find the happiness you’ve been looking for in each day. #PositivePsychology
[Link to content]"
If you run a search for #PositivePsychology on any social media platform you'll be shown recent posts that included that hashtag. This page will be populated by posts that included the hashtag "#positivepsychology".
Hashtags are an easy and effective way to reach people who are interested in the type of content you produce. This makes them a useful tool for reaching potential customers, clients, and partners -- the users who finds your messages via hashtags has already displayed an interest in your product/businesses.
Keep in mind that the more recent posts will continue to push down the older ones, this is why researching your hashtags across all your social media platforms is important.
Which Hashtags Should I Use?
While this question doesn't have a single correct answer, the most effective ones will relate to both your business and the content you are currently sharing. For example, while #seo is relevant to our services, it probably wouldn't be the best fit for a blog post focusing on social media. I should go with something like "#socialmedia".
To get the most out of your hashtags, you'll have to perform some research. Run searches for different hashtags on each social media platform to see which posts tend to receive the most engagement.
Try to find the line between a hashtag that is too broad (such as #marketing) and ones that are too specific (such as #SoCalSocialMediaMarketing). If the hashtag you choose is too broad then your post might get pushed down before anyone sees it. On the other hand, if your hashtag that is too specific then it's unlikely that anyone will ever search for it.
Free Hashtag Research Tools
Here are some free tools you can make use of in your hashtag research.
How Many Hashtags Should I Use?
This will vary depending on any number of factors, but here are some guidelines for you to start with:
- Twitter's own research shows that the use of hashtags "can increase engagement almost 100% (2x) for individuals and 50% (1.5x) for brands." However, tweets with more than 2 hashtags actually saw a decrease in engagement.
- The data for Facebook isn't as clear. Some research mirrors Twitter's and claims that 2 or less is the sweet spot, but other research shows that adding any hashtags decreases the amount of engagement. So I would recommend running your own tests, but abiding by the "2 or less" rule.
- The most surprising is Instagram, where less is not more. The data seems to show that the more you use, the more likes your photo will get. Just keep in mind that people may tire of your posts if they constantly see a wall of hashtags for each of your images, so try to keep it around 5 - 10.
Did this help? Please leave any questions/feedback in the comment section below -- we're happy to hear from you!
Great info. Gabe!