How to Use Hashtags on Social Media

Posted by Sarah Wai on Apr 6, 2020 8:00:00 AM

hashtags in marketing
This was originally posted on Sept. 12, 2017, but has been updated to ensure relevance.
Social media is a crucial marketing tool for businesses. Many business owners understand the power of embracing technology and what it can do for their company, but there is still some reluctance to embrace social media, or simply an indifference to it. Most of this reluctance and indifference comes because some business professionals simply don't understand how it all works and it seems daunting to learn. Maybe they have social media, but they opt to not use it very much (if even at all). In this blog, we focus on the importance and usage of the hashtag (aka "#") on social media in order to educate those of you who may be confused or need some direction. If you're posting to social media even once a week, a hashtag can help you have a higher chance of your post being seen.

a Hashtag Lets You engage with Your Audience
Here's a simple analogy:
You’re in a store and you see a group of people looking at a product you manufacture. You start to hear them talk about your product. One of the group members brings up a good question about the product that the group can’t seem to find the answer to. Another group member points out a similar product and encourages the group to use that product because it has more information on the box than yours. 
Wouldn't you feel inclined to jump into the conversation and answer the question? Wouldn’t you love to point out why they should buy your product instead of a similar product? Social media gives you the power to join in on the conversation and communicate with your target audience as they journey through the buying cycle.
 
Utilizing hashtags allows you to jump in front of your audience to share information before they may even be searching for it. For example, Tribute Media employees often post blogs they've written to LinkedIn, and always use hashtags based on what aligns with the topic and what's trending (http://hashtagify.me/ is one resource). The amazing thing about using hashtags is that it can get resources in front of individuals you're not already connected to. This gives your company positive exposure to individuals you maybe would not have otherwise reached.
 
Hashtags have become the norm as marketers use them in digital marketing campaigns constantly. Today, you can use hashtags to:
  • Categorize posts
  • Grab the attention of those interested in specific topics
  • Increase awareness of your products, services, or solutions
  • Harness the power of popular topics on social media
  • Reach local audiences (especially helpful for small businesses)
With a simple hashtag utilized in a campaign, you can drive viewer engagement to your content outside of your current bubble of followers.

How to Use Hashtags in Your Campaigns

The marketing industry has developed five brilliant ways to use hashtags in social media campaigns:
 
1.)    As an Engagement Booster
According to Halle Klingman over at CoSchedule: 
 
Posts with at least one relative Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag.
 
2.)    To Measure Engagement
Test and measure the engagement of your social media audience by trying different hashtags and compare the results and how they respond. Make sure your hashtags are relevant to your post and industry, and trending where possible.
 
3.)    Use as a Cross-Channel Identifier
Now that most-modern social media sites have adopted hashtags, marketers can now run cross-channel campaigns with one common identifier. Hashtags like #SOTU ("State Of The Union") can be tracked through all forms of social media.
 
4.)    Initiate Creative Storytelling
You can create your own hashtags and share a story to boost your engagement, but the key to successfully doing so is integrating trending hashtags. Unknown hashtags on their own will not succeed unless your company is as big as Nike or ESPN. It's best to stick with known and trending hashtags.
 
When Esurance aired their Super Bowl advertisement, they added their very own hashtag that was linked to the topic of the advertisement. The next day, not only did they notice a major growth in their followers, but they could also accurately track the customers who engaged with their brand or story.
 
5.)    To Identify Results
Interact with your customers to get results on anything from opinions to followers. Popular sports events and reality TV shows have used hashtags as a way of voting. This engagement shows how many people are tuning in and interacting with your brand.

hashtag Do's and Don'ts 

As with all social media platforms and popular outlets, there are a few tips for hashtag etiquette:
 
DO:
  • Use relevant terms for your industry
  • Research trending topics that apply
  • Create a hashtag to match your brand
  • Only use acronyms if they are well-known
  • Check the settings on your social media accounts to make sure the public (not just your followers) sees your posts
  • If you have a long hashtag, try capitalizing the first letter of every word to avoid confusion: #tributemediatuesdaytip looks more confusing than #TributeMediaTuesdayTip
 
DON'T:
  • #hash#tag#every#word#of#your#post. Typically, 3-7 hashtags per post is sufficient and acceptable, and typically is the magic number for social media algorithms.
  • Make your post one large hashtag. They are hard to read and can become misleading and confusing.
  • Repeat your hashtag multiple times in the same post. It doesn’t help. Repeating the same hashtag in every post has not proven to be effective on any platform.
Remember, social media is only as effective as your efforts. Take the time to do it well and do it right, and you'll reap the benefits in no time. 
Sarah Wai

Written by Sarah Wai

Content, Email, and Social Media Marketing Specialist of Tribute Media. Bachelor of Science in Digital Communication Arts and Master in Business Administration. Holds HubSpot Certifications in Inbound Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, and Contextual Marketing.

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