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Hashtags. The unofficial official symbol of the millennial digital age. No matter which social media network you use, hashtags probably appear somewhere in your social media strategy. Establishing a hashtag strategy would be a good idea. But first, here’s our guide to hashtags and how to use them correctly.

What Is A Hashtag?

Twitter introduced us to hashtags in 2007, and have been confusing, marketers and media professionals ever since. Initially created to organising content. Hashtags relate social media content to a specific topic, event, theme or conversation. This makes it easier to discover posts around specific topics.

Today hashtags are used across various social media platforms like Google +, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

Hashtag Basics:

  • Hashtags always start with a pound symbol #. They do not work when they have spaces, punctuation or other symbols.
  • Make sure your account is public. Otherwise, the hashtagged content isn’t visible to any non-followers.
  • Don’t string too many words together. The best hashtags are usually short and easy to remember.
  • Use relevant and specific hashtags. Obscure hashtags often aren’t used by other social media users.
  • Limit the number of hashtags. Don’t spam. (Read on for the best practices on using hashtags on the various platforms.)

Why Use Hashtags?

Increased Engagement

Using hashtags allows you to take part in conversations happening on that specific social platform. And it also makes your posts visible in that conversation. This ultimately leads to greater engagement via likes, shares, comments, and new followers.

Brand Growth

Creating a branded hashtag grows your brand, promotes your business, and drives the conversation.

Show Support

Using a hashtag associated with something outside of your brand can show support to a specific cause or social issue.

What Hashtags To Use?

Using ultra-popular hashtags isn’t always the best strategy. It does require some research to find hashtags that are valuable and specific to your brand, industry, and audience.

4 Ways to Find The Best Ones:

  1. Track social media influencers and competitors

Take note of the hashtags your competitors and relevant influencers within your brand’s niche are using in their posts.

  1. Use tools

Make use of hashtag tools – some popular ones are:

  1. Keep an eye on trending hashtags

Keeping a tab on trending hashtags is a great way to ensure that your hashtags are relevant and performing well. Hashtag Tracker is a tool that shows you how many people are mentioning a popular hashtag.

  1. Find related hashtags
A quick search on Instagram lets you discover hashtags related to your original search to include in your hashtag strategy.

Best Practices For Using Hashtags:

A hashtag strategy is not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to various social media channels. Each network has specific preferences based on its algorithm.

Facebook

Optimal amount: 1-2 hashtags

Using hashtags on Facebook can help your content gain visibility, attract new community members, and increase your reach. The best approach is to be specific and select 1-2 relevant hashtags. When Facebook users search for a hashtag they are looking to discover and engage in trending discussions. Since so many users’ have private profiles, it can be hard to track how people interact with hashtags.

Hashtags on Facebook:

  • Hashtags can be included in any part of your written Facebook post or in the comments.
  • They are also useful for grouping content in private Facebook groups by theme or topic. This is important for brands to keep in mind considering Facebook is seeing its users shift to private channels.

You can:

  • Search for a hashtag using Facebook’s search bar.
  • Click on a hashtag to see a feed of Facebook posts using that same hashtag.
  • Search hashtags used in private Facebook groups using the “search this group” bar under the group’s menu.

Twitter

Optimal amount: 1-2 hashtags

According to Shortstack research, tweets with up to two hashtags get twice as much engagement (clicks, retweets, favourites, and replies). While you can use as many hashtags as you want within the 280-character limit, Twitter recommends using no more than two.

Hashtags on Twitter:

  • You can use hashtags anywhere in your Tweets. Use them at the start for emphasis, at the end for context, or in the middle of your post to highlight a keyword.
  • Hashtags can also be added in a comment when you Retweet, in replies and your Twitter bio.

You can:

  • Type a hashtagged keyword into Twitter’s search bar to find hashtagged content.
  • See which hashtags are trending in Twitter’s trending topics.

Instagram

Optimal amount: 5-10 hashtags

The social platform allows you to share up to 30 hashtags, and the jury is still out on the optimal amount. Some marketing professionals recommend using all 30. While others feel this is spammy and suggest between 5-10.

It would be a good idea to post your hashtags as the post’s first comment or post them in the caption under a row of dots.

Hashtags on Instagram:

  • Add hashtags after writing your caption, or in the comments.
  • You can include up to 10 hashtags in your Instagram Stories.
  • In addition, its possible to include hashtags in your brand’s Instagram profile bio.

You can:

  • Use the Tags tab of Instagram’s Explore section to search for hashtags.
  • Follow hashtags. Meaning content from any user will show in your feed if it includes a hashtag you follow.

With an Instagram Business account, you can access Instagram Insights. After that, you can see how many impressions your profile got from hashtags.

Pinterest

Optimal amount: 2-5 hashtags

Hashtags on Pinterest are another social networking debate topic. Namely, some marketing and media professionals feel that hashtags have no place on the platform. Using hashtags that are searchable and specific is key. But, don’t use more than 20 hashtags in a Pin description.

Hashtags on Pinterest:

  • Include Pinterest hashtags in a Pin description when using Pinterest for business.
  • The mobile version of Pinterest offers hashtag suggestions when creating a new Pin.

LinkedIn

Optimal amount 2-3 hashtags

Including up to three hashtags in your company’s LinkedIn post can help people find your content better. There is no limit to how many hashtags you can include within your post, however, we recommend between 2-3.

Hashtags on LinkedIn:

  • Incorporate hashtags anywhere into a written LinkedIn update and LinkedIn article.

You can:

  • Use the platform’s search bar to find hashtags.
  • View trending hashtags in the “news and views” section on the home page.
  • Get hashtag suggestions from LinkedIn as you write an update.

YouTube

Optimal amount: 2-3 hashtags

On YouTube hashtags are hyperlinked in titles and descriptions. This allows users to find other content with the same hashtags by clicking on either. But, don’t use more than 15 hashtags. YouTube will ignore them, and could flag your content for spammy behaviour.

Hashtags on YouTube:

  • Add a few hashtags in the video title or the video description.
  • Click on hyperlinked hashtags to view a feed with other videos also using those hashtags, for instance.

There you have it: Hashtags 101. If you’re not already. It’s time to start using hashtags in your social media strategy. And remember: #dont #overuse #the #hashtag.

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