HOW TO USE HASHTAGS
BY ALLY SCHAUER
If you’re using social media, you’ve probably used a hashtag. However, many people still don’t know how to effectively use hashtags. Knowing how to properly use hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media can increase your brand’s reach and strengthen your strategy. Best practices for social media change all the time, but at AMMO it’s our job to keep up with the times. Read on to learn how to successfully use hashtags in 2021.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF HASHTAGS, ANYWAY?
First things first. Why should you use hashtags? Hashtags turn a word or phrase into a link, which enables social media platforms to index all content using that hashtag in one place. Put simply, hashtags help you join the conversation about a topic or event.
The benefits of using hashtags include increasing your profile’s reach, engagement, and audience size. Hashtags also help you reach your target audience by enabling your posts to appear to people who are exploring that hashtag.
While hashtags originated on Twitter, they’ve become a staple for Instagram. Facebook, which acquired Instagram in 2012, also introduced hashtags in 2013, but they are less commonly used and the best practices are different.
So, how do you use hashtags effectively? Read on.
HASHTAG STRATEGIES DIFFER ACROSS PLATFORMS
Proper hashtag strategy is an essential part of growing your brand’s social media presence. However, there isn’t just a one-size-fits-all-platforms approach. One of the biggest mistakes is the number of hashtags people use. So, how many hashtags should you be using?
Facebook: 1-2 hashtags
Twitter: 1-2 hashtags
Pinterest: 1-3 hashtags
LinkedIn: 1-3 hashtags
TikTok: 3-5 hashtags
Instagram: Up to 30 hashtags
Using the proper number of hashtags in your social media posts helps you gain reach and engagement, without seeming like you’re spamming your followers. Instagram users normally see posts with a lot of hashtags, but make sure they are still relevant to what you are posting. In fact, studies have shown that using fewer than 30 hashtags is optimal for Instagram. You’re better off spending your time coming up with a few relevant, effective hashtags than brainstorming until your head hurts to compile a list of 30.
October 2021 Edit: Instagram recently announced its hashtag guidelines via its official Instagram Creators account. These guidelines differ from the widely accepted best practice of using several hashtags; instead, Instagram says that you should use 3-5 hashtags and that using more does not necessarily increase your post’s distribution. The following hashtag types are still relevant to this strategy.
TYPES OF HASHTAGS
Brands that are trying to authentically increase their social media presence need to stay away from using irrelevant hashtags just because they’re trending. Brands that use a combination of branded, broad, niche, and location hashtags have the highest chance of being discovered by social media users that are likely to be interested in their brand or business.
All brands should have a branded hashtag. This hashtag should be used on most posts and customers should be encouraged to use this hashtag when posting about the brand. A unique, branded hashtag gives your brand a place of its own and allows users to see what other people are saying and posting about your brand.
Broad hashtags have a lot of content posted to them daily. Using broad hashtags can help put your post in front of numerous users, but these users aren’t necessarily interested in your product or service. If someone looks up #Travel, they might be in the mood to look at scenic pictures. If someone looks up #TravelAgent, they are more likely to be interested in using a travel agency service.
Tip: Don’t use popular hashtags if they aren’t relevant to your post or business.
Niche hashtags have fewer posts than broad hashtags. With niche hashtags, you have a better chance of getting discovered by users who are interested in your specific topic. Niche hashtags help you reach your target audience better than broad hashtags.
Using location hashtags helps users who are interested in your city find your social media account. There are different ways to hashtag the same location (#NBTX, #NewBraunfels), so research which location hashtags are commonly used in your area. Your local Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, or Destination Marketing Organization might have a local hashtag they promote that you can take advantage of.
Tip: To find which local hashtags are popular in your area, start with your city’s hashtag (#NewBraunfels, for example) and see which other local hashtags users are adding to their posts.
SHOULD I USE THE SAME HASHTAGS EVERY TIME?
Instagram’s Community Guidelines state that spam is not allowed. While Instagram’s algorithm is sophisticated, it can’t always pick up on the nuances of your hashtag strategy and may mistake repetitive hashtags for spam. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so it is recommended to rotate between a few sets of hashtags and include a few hashtags that are unique to each post.
Another benefit of alternating your hashtags is increasing and varying your reach. If someone looks up #SanAntonio, but you only use #SATX, they won’t discover your posts.
Rotating your hashtag strategy also allows you to test which hashtags work best for you. If one set of hashtags is regularly increasing your engagement, you’ve found a good set to use! Keep sets of hashtags in your notes to copy and paste as an easy way to track your hashtag usage.
WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY HASHTAGS?
There are several ways you can include hashtags in your post.
- Incorporate them into your caption. Example: “Say hello to my new #cat! He LOVES his #MeowMix, but he’s getting a little chunky. Does anyone have a great recommendation for a vet in #NewBraunfels?”
- Put them at the end of your caption. Some Instagram users prefer to separate them from the caption by including line breaks. Example: “Say hello to my new cat! He LOVES his Meow Mix, but he’s getting a little chunky. Does anyone have a great recommendation for a vet in New Braunfels? #cat #MeowMix #NewBraunfels”
- Put them in the comment section (Instagram only).*
*In the September 2021 post, the Instagram Creators account recommends putting your hashtags in your caption, not in the comments.
These tips are a great starting point for learning how to use hashtags effectively, but there’s more to a stellar social media presence than hashtags. Contact AMMO to chat about our social media management services.