5 Tips to Boost your Hashtags on Social Media

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One of the questions I get asked most about is hashtags; what do they do and how do I use them?

1. What are hashtags?

Hashtags are a way of telling the social media platform what your content is about, think of them as labels in a filing system. A hashtag groups together all the posts that focus on that one topic. Then the social media channels use hashtags to categorise your content so they show your posts to the people that will be most interested in it.

For example, if you are posting pumpkin carving ideas, you might put #ideasforpumpkins2021 into your caption and whichever platform you are using would show your post to people who are searching for that hashtag.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the ‘proper name’ for a hashtag is an octothorp!

Hashtags are clickable, this means that you can click on a hashtag and find all the posts that have used the same one.

Hashtags are a great way to build a community around your business and encourage people to engage with your brand.

2. What are the 6 different types of hashtag that can be used on any social media platform?

a) Product or service hashtags

These relate to what you do for example #socialmediatraining Branded hashtags may be included here such as #onlinemediaworks

b) Niche hashtags

These are more specific for example #socialmediatrainingforsmallbusinessowners

c) Industry hashtags

These are often used to build a community for example #educhat for people involved in education on Twitter.

d) Special events

These hashtags may also include awareness days such as #breastcancerawareness

e) Location hashtags or geotags

These hashtags relate to a specific geographical area for example #Worcestershire

f) Daily hashtags

Examples here are #motivationalmonday, #wednesdaywisdom and may also be abbreviated. For example, #throwbackthursday may get shortened to #tbt

When you are researching what hashtags to use it’s a good idea to include a mix of these as well researching the number of posts that use a particular hashtag.

If you use the most popular or broad ones eg #love (it’s the most popular one on Instagram by the way, quickly followed by #instagood ) it’s really unlikely that your post will be found, as it’ll disappear under the volume of all the other posts using the same hashtag.

Try to use something more niche that your customers would be looking for.

3. How do I know what hashtags people are searching for?

To make sure that your content will be found then you need to start to do some research. Think about the questions your customers ask. What words do they use? It’s important not to use your own industry jargon or abbreviations but to reflect the actual way your potential customers would speak.

You can research trending hashtags on the home page of each platform. You can use websites such as hashtagify.me or sistrix.com to see what is popular.

Also look at your analytics and see which posts have gained the most engagement, which hashtags did you use in those posts?

4. How should I use hashtags?

It’s a good idea to have a hashtag strategy for your social media. This means you’ve spent some time doing the research and have an understanding of what your customers are searching for rather than just picking something random to make up the numbers of hashtags you’re using!

Are sure the hashtags you use are appropriate for your content? Don’t just jump on a popular hashtag bandwagon that doesn’t relate to your content.

Have a bank of hashtags on a spreadsheet or in notes on your phone so you can mix them up and change them to ensure you’re not using the same ones day in day out.

5. How can I get found using hashtags on social media?

Each platform prefers different ways of using hashtags and there are various optimal numbers of hashtags that are recommended.

a) How should I use hashtags on Instagram?

On Instagram you can use up to thirty hashtags and there is great debate on the optimal number. Some people say that if Instagram didn’t want you to use 30 hashtags they wouldn’t allow it, while others say 8 is best (or some other number!).

My suggestion here is to see what works best for you. Use the insights available in your Instagram business account to see how many people found your post from hashtags.

The other debate that rages on is whether you should put the hashtags in the caption or in the first comment. Again, it’s personal preference. Some people find reading a caption with hashtags less accessible, so bear this in mind.

On Instagram you can follow hashtags. This means that I could put something like #Worcestershire into search and then see every time an account posts using this hashtag.

It’s worth bearing in mind that stories are no longer featured on hashtag pages so if you use hashtags in your stories they won’t help to get your content get found.

b) How should I use hashtags on Twitter?

On Twitter each tweet can only be 280 characters so it’s probably best to chose the top one or two only to maximise the rest of the words in your tweet. You can place hashtags anywhere in your tweet.  You can also use hashtags in your Twitter bio.

c) How should I use hashtags on Facebook?

On Facebook you can use hashtags in your caption, however not many Facebook users search on hashtags on the platform, so I’d recommend using a ‘test and measure’ approach. Do you get better engagement using them or not?

Lots of Facebook users post directly from Instagram to Facebook and so their hashtags are automatically included. This really isn’t necessary on Facebook and your post can just end up looking messy.

If in doubt, ask your customers and potential customers whether they use hashtags to search on Facebook. Use their answers to guide your strategy.

d) How should I use hashtags on LinkedIn?

It’s recommended that one or two hashtags can be used anywhere in a LinkedIn post or article to increase getting found. LinkedIn will also auto suggest appropriate hashtags for you.

You can follow hashtags on LinkedIn to keep up to date on your favourite topics.

e) How should I use hashtags on Pinterest?

The optimal number for hashtags on Pinterest is between two and five, however the maximum number is twenty.

Hashtags should be use when writing a Pin description on Pinterest.  Pinterest will auto suggest appropriate hashtags for you if you’re using the app.

If you use hashtags on social media then you make your posts part of the conversation that is happening around that particular topic. If you research and choose your hashtags carefully then this will help to increase your engagement with your target audience.

Have a test and measure strategy and do more of what works to get you found. Let me know what works for you and if you have any other questions about hashtags do let me know…

About me

I’m Esther and my mission is to help business owners who didn’t grow up with smartphones become experts at managing their social media and win more business.

Right platform, right way, right time, right tools.

I teach social media, ecommerce and marketing/entrepreneurship at three UK universities.

When speaking with businesses one of the biggest headaches is what to post on social media consistently, so I’m here to help!

If you’d like some one to one help and support, at your pace and at a time to suit you, book a ‘Power Hour’ with me and come away with an immediately implementable plan.

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