Hashtags have become a normal part of social media use. They appear on nearly every post and now even become part of everyday conversation. However, to get the full benefits of hashtags, you need to understand what they are, and how they work. They are an integral part of modern social media campaigns, and something our social media team is always asked about.
What Are They?
A hashtag is a word of phrase preceded by a # symbol, used on social media platforms to categorise or identify a post. They serve as indicators for users and platform algorithms that the piece of content relates to a specific topic. By using hashtags, it allows users to discover content by following the hashtag rather than just seeing the content by following your page. It makes your brand and posts more discoverable to a wider audience.
Why Use Them?
Hashtags ultimately increase your engagement, as the posts then display on the hashtags feed as well as your own. It means you are part of the conversation that’s happening, making you and your business visible to all of those who are involved. This is why remaining relevant and viewing what’s trending is so important. Trending products and hashtags appear quickly and gain massive exposure and following. To be visible to that audience you have to use that hashtag whilst it’s still popular, but also must be relevant to your post and business.
As well as exposure to new audiences and users, hashtags help your business to improve engagement and rapport with existing followers. They help your business to align with certain ideals by showing brand personality and values by connecting to issues that are beyond your company. For example, supporting hashtags such as the #bekind movement (social media kindness day) you show followers that you are not just selling products, but connecting to real life issues that your audience will associate with.
Another reason to use hashtags is they can add context to a post that may be confusing or that is primarily image based. With little post text, an image would hold little value as it does not show its relevance to the business or product. By using a hashtag it can provide the context the post needs in order to make it valuable to your audience.
How To Use Hashtags
One of the most important things about using hashtags is the quantity. A lot of accounts use too many, thinking this will give them a lot more exposure, whereas it decreases engagement and makes the account and posts appear spam-like. The number of ideal hashtags used does vary depending on the social media platform, however for the majority, the maximum is three. Instagram is one of the platforms where you can use more, however do not feel the need to use them unnecessarily, only use them if they are relevant.
A lot of the time people hashtag random words like #sunny or create their own custom hashtags that have no search value. By doing this, the hashtags hold little value as no new audiences will find them as there is no following on the hashtag. To find effective hashtags research them to find how valuable they are to the audiences you are trying to connect with. Similarly, you need to make sure that the ones you are using are active.
You can also find related hashtags by popping them in the search bar of Instagram, for example, where the related tags will be shown above the top and recent posts. This can help you find new ideas and reinforce hashtags that have similar content.
One way to use hashtags to promote your business is by creating a branded hashtag. Although it may not have any followers to start with, by using your brand as a hashtag you create a plethora of posts under that hashtag which is visible to more users. When posting images, competitions or interactive posts, you can then encourage users to use this hashtag, further increasing reach and engagement.
Also, do not hesitate to use popular hashtags like #throwbackthursday. These can help you join a wider conversation and further your exposure to different audiences. Although, it is also beneficial to use niche hashtags to your products and services. This will put you directly in front of audiences that are looking for and following accounts that are similar to yours, exposing you to your target market.
Simple Do’s and Don’ts
Do encourage others to use your hashtags
Do make sure that the account is public – if people follow your hashtags and they do not currently follow you they wouldn’t be able to see your posts
Do relate the product/post to the hashtags
Do use a combination of niche and popular, longer hashtags
Don’t hashtag every word
Don’t use punctuation, spaces or symbols
Don’t use lots of hashtags
Hashtags are therefore very useful to encourage visibility and exposure for business profiles on social media platforms. They are a vital part of modern social platform use, although it’s important not to overuse them.
If you feel like you need any help managing your social media, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly KH Digital team, they will be happy to answer any questions.