How to Use Hashtags on Social Media
Posted by Taylor Munson on Nov 16, 2022 8:00:00 AM
Social media is an essential marketing tool for businesses. It can help you increase the visibility of your product or service and connect you with current and future customers.
As social media platforms have changed drastically over the years, so have the strategies needed for businesses to succeed. However, there is one strategy that’s been around for a while and is still an effective way to get your content in front of the right audience: #hashtags.
In this blog, we focus on the importance of hashtags and some best practices for usage on social media. Regardless of how active your business is on social media, incorporating hashtags into your strategy can have a big impact on the success of your efforts.
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 to answer the question and point out why they should buy your product instead of a similar product? Social media gives you the power to join in on relevant conversations and communicate with your target audience as they journey through the buying cycle.
Using hashtags helps your business get involved in the right conversations and get in front of the right people. There are many different ways to approach a hashtag strategy, depending on your business goals on social media. Hashtags can be used for a variety of purposes, including to:
- Boost engagement. Hashtags can make your content easier to find, especially for people outside your followers. This increases the discoverability of your content, making it easier for someone who doesn’t know about your business to engage with you.
- 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.
- Use as a cross-channel identifier. Now that most 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.
- Initiate creative storytelling. You can create your own unique 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 have a healthy balance of popular, trending hashtags and niche, brand-specific hashtags.
- 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.
7 Ways to Use Hashtags
There are many different ways to approach your hashtag strategy. Here are some of the best ways you can utilize hashtags:
1) Categorize your content. Hashtags help you categorize your content by topic and signal to the algorithm the type of content you post. This can help keep your content organized and ensure your posts are showing up in the right places.
2) Grab the attention of those interested in specific topics. By using pertinent hashtags in your industry, you’re also able to capture the attention of your target audience. People can follow certain hashtags on social media based on what they’re interested in, so using relevant hashtags can get you in front of the right people.
3) Increase awareness of your products, services, or solutions. With a simple hashtag utilized in your content, you can drive viewer engagement to your content outside of your current bubble of followers. While engagement with your followers is important, a successful social media strategy should also focus on growing your following and reaching people outside your current audience.
4) Harness the power of popular topics on social media. Dialogue on social media is constantly evolving and changes by the minute. Keep tabs on popular conversations happening across different social media platforms and incorporate those topics into your own content. Look at current trending hashtags relevant to your industry and find a way to be a part of those conversations.
5) Reach local audiences (especially helpful for small businesses). Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with your local community, which can be a huge benefit for small, local businesses. Research hashtags commonly used in your area of business and include those hashtags in your own content to help your business reach a local audience.
6) Create unique digital marketing campaigns. Hashtags can be a powerful tactic you can utilize for specific digital marketing campaigns. Consider creating your own branded hashtag and use it in a marketing campaign to help increase awareness and engagement. The ALS Association’s popular #IceBucketChallenge is a great example of a successful digital marketing campaign using a branded hashtag.
7) Encourage user-generated content. Another impactful way to utilize a branded hashtag is to inspire user-generated content. For example, Apple has encouraged people to use the hashtag #ShotOnIphone with photos they took on their iPhones. This provides Apple with lots of content from their customers that they can use in their own social media strategy.
Hashtag Do's and Don'ts
As you start incorporating hashtags into your social media content, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. Here are some important dos and don’ts:
- Use relevant terms and keywords related to your industry
- Research trending topics to pull hashtags from
- Have a healthy balance of widely popular hashtags and niche hashtags
- Research the use of your hashtags before posting
- 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 make your hashtags more accessible: #tributemediatuesdaytip is harder for humans and screen readers to read than #TributeMediaTuesdayTip
- Hashtag every word of your post. This can come off as spammy and isn’t favored by social media algorithms. Typically, 3-7 hashtags per post is ideal, depending on the platform.
- 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.
- Use the same exact hashtags on every platform. While some hashtags may have similar popularity across platforms, each platform is used differently and therefore uses hashtags differently.
To help with your hashtag research, here are some helpful tools we recommend (some are free and some have paid plans):
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.
Written by Taylor Munson
Taylor is Tribute Media's social media specialist. When she's not hanging out in nature or socialing the medias, you might find her indulging reality shows or re-watching Parks and Recreation.