Hashtags. What are they and why have them? Questions we’re often asked here at Naturally Social, understandably too. They appear on 4 of the main channels now – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So how, when and where do you use them…we’ve answered these questions in this month’s blog post.
1) Do your research.
This is the most important thing that you can do to improve your hashtags. Think about these things when doing your research:
You need to interpret what you have found and draw your own conclusions so that it can be effectively adapted to your brand. Just because a competitor is getting a lot of engagement (retweets, likes, comments, favourites) from using a certain hashtag it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. It might actually mean the opposite. The best way to evaluate which hashtags do and don’t work is to start using the hashtags from your research and monitor the levels of engagement your posts achieve. Then adapt your strategy accordingly.
2) Make use of the tools available.
There are plenty of tools available that make hashtag research easier. Our top three are Hashtagify, Tagboard and Keyword Tool. Hashtagify is useful for researching hashtags on Twitter and seeing how popular they are. With Tagboard you get an easy to digest board of the latest and most popular hashtag content. This is great for staying up to date with the latest conversation on social media. Keyword is good for deciding on different variations of your hashtag. Many different forms of your hashtags are displayed in list form with the number of posts shown beside it.
3) Bigger doesn’t always mean better.
Just because there are a lot of posts under a hashtag, doesn’t mean that this is the best one for you to use. It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that because a hashtag has more posts, it will automatically give you more reach. However, in reality, your post will get lost in a hashtag with millions of other posts. It’s much better to pick a hashtag with a few thousand, or even a few hundred posts on it as it’s more likely to be seen by your audience. Also, don’t just look at the number of posts on the hashtags. Pay attention to the engagement it is generating. It is far better to pick a smaller hashtag that has a more engaged audience.
4) Use a brand hashtag.
This is a hashtag that is associated with your brand. Your followers can use it to post user-generated content and find any content relating to your brand. A brand hashtag is a great way to get your business’ name recognised and create brand awareness. Choose something that is catchy, memorable and no other brands are using. Then you can put the hashtag in your social media bios and encourage your clients to use it too.
5) Think industry and location.
The key types of hashtags that businesses should be using are industry and location-based hashtags. If you have an independent business, then you can use location hashtags to target locally and build brand awareness. This type of hashtag is also helpful for if you’re advertising a local event. Industry hashtags can be used to appeal to people who may be looking for your product or service specifically and can be used to foster relationships with other people in the industry. Industry hashtags are good for establishing yourself as a source of knowledge in your field.
6) Don’t use the same hashtags every time.
Instagram algorithms are designed to pick up on any content that they deem as spammy and this includes accounts that use the same hashtags repeatedly. If you do this, Instagram will stop showing your content to users. So, switch things up a bit, use some new hashtags and put them in a different order. Your brand hashtag should always stay the same, but everything else can be different on each post.
7) Different hashtags work differently on different platforms.
As we mentioned in our intro, hashtags appear across all the major social channels, but they don’t interlink. Our advice is to avoid them on Facebook (in our experience, statistically they don’t improve the reach of your content). Whereas, we are still experimenting with tags on LinkedIn. They sit a lot better on this platform than they do on Facebook and we tend to use around 5 industry specific tags at the bottom of the post. These tags represent your business and the information you’re sharing. Don’t forget – the primary purpose for hashtags is to make your content more discoverable by professionals in similar industries or people looking for what you offer.
On Twitter you’re better off sticking to two hashtags per tweet and integrating them within your sentence. Aim for one industry and one location tag.
On Instagram you can add up to 30 hashtags! That’s a lot, right? Now, if you’re in the game of quick growth and followers for followers’ sake then this might make sense, but Facebook themselves advise around 5-8 tags in any post. We always get asked – ‘in the comments or in the post?’ when it comes to Insta. Honestly – test and see what works for you. We add them as a comment for aesthetic purposes.
8) Analyse and reflect.
This is a really important factor in determining your success on social media. Have a look back at your old posts. Think about the levels of engagement you received on these posts and what hashtags you used on them. Are there any posts that have consistently high levels of engagement when you use a certain hashtag? Or, conversely, are there posts that don’t do as well as others? Are there any consistencies in the hashtags you use on these posts? Maybe these hashtags aren’t the best at generating conversation. It’s important to remember that social media can involve trial and error, so make sure you pick up on any patterns and consider what’s working and what could be improved.
Well, we hope our Hashtag Hints and Hacks blog post has been useful and you’re feeling more aware of what they are, when to use them and where. If you’ve still got questions, then we’d love to hear from you! We offer social media workshops, consultancy and management services. We also have a free Facebook group you can join! The Social Media Academy…. we hope to see you soon.