How to get #hashtags right in social media

Hashtags have become part of everyday language – chances are even your granny knows what they are. But do you really know what they are for, or how to use them?

Hashtags are used to categorise content on social media, making it easy for users to find stuff relevant to them. Knowing how to use hashtags correctly is key to your brand’s success online. Here a few rules to help you get it right.

Be specific

The more specific you are with your hashtags, the more targeted your followers will be – and targeted followers means better engagement.

For example, in Instagram #eventing has over 800,000 posts, which means you could easily get lost in space, while #Britisheventing has around 87,000 posts. To be even more specific use #britisheventing2018 which currently only has 42 posts.

Create your own hashtag

As well as using popular, community hashtags, your business should have its own hashtag, to help you build your brand.

Brand hashtags shouldn’t mention your business name; they represent what you stand for.

It’s also a great way to drive participation and engagement, as you can encourage your audience to use your hashtag when posting photos or comments relating to you and your brand.

For example: ‘Loving my new smart riding gloves #equestrianglamour’. Done in the right way you can even start a new community. Look at the power of #justdoit.

One size does not fit all

While hashtags have the same purpose across all social media, the way you use them varies according to the platform.

Hashtags on Twitter are used to find conversations or start your own, while Instagram hashtags help users discover relevant content and find people to follow.

The number of hashtags you should use also depends according to the network. Tweets using more than two hashtags see a significant drop in engagement, while on Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement.

Most networks have ‘how to’ guides on hashtags, so do your research.

Follow the crowd

When it comes to social media forging your own path isn’t always the best option for getting your content noticed. You need to find out what the most popular and relevant hashtags are on a specific subject on each network.

It’s also a good idea to think about your audience and find the keywords and hashtags they are using.

Keep it simple

Hashtags are supposed to make things easier to find, so if you’re creating a branded hashtag keep it short and sweet. Even though #eventingineastsussex will target a specific audience, it’s unlikely anyone will use the hashtag as they won’t want to type in that many characters.

Similarly, don’t try and be too clever or original – you want people to easily find you.

Limit your hashtags

As we discussed above, more hashtags can mean more reach and likes. As a result, many Instagram users overload their photos with hashtags. The maximum number allowed is 30, but this doesn’t mean you should use them all!

If you go #hashtag crazy, followers will think you are spamming them. It also dilutes your message and makes you look desperate. Instead, be specific and keep it professional (again, see above).

Don’t be a #hashtagbore

You may not want to hear this, but not everything you post is worth a hashtag. Hashtagging every single post risks #hashtagoverkill and #alienatingyouraudience. If your tweet, post, or comment isn’t adding anything to the wider conversation, leave the hashtag out. For example, don’t tag when sharing a news story, but if you write a blog post that analyses the impact of that news, then #hashtagaway.

Need advice on managing your marketing and social advice? Get in touch to find out how we can help you #makeanimpact.