Millions of social media users regularly include hashtags in their posts. Since the first hashtag was published on Twitter in 2007 they have become an important tool to discuss individual events, current affairs or target a specific audience. However, the majority of users does not fully understand the concept of hashtags, let alone how to maximise them for their own business, product or service.
What is a hashtag?
Simply said, a hashtag is a way to categorize anything that gets published on social media. The principle behind it is the same you would use to organise products on a shelf. Putting the hash symbol # in front of a word or phrase will give it meaning and allow others to find what’s relevant to them. For example, if you want to find all posts on Twitter about motherhood, simply type #motherhood in the search field and get feeds from all over the word relating to your topic of interest.
Hashtags can be made up of letters, single words or phrases, but must not contain any punctuation or spaces. Capitalizing does not change the category of a hashtag but will help bring your point across or assist with readability. Searching for posts regarding #chocolatelover will show the same results as #ChocolateLover.
Quality is better than quantity. The broader your hashtag, the less targeted your audience will be. Make your hashtags as specific as possible to increase the chance of reaching an audience that is relevant to you and more likely to follow and engage with you. #TravelAsia is more precise than just #travel.
How to use hashtags for your business
Hashtags can help you grow your audience and attract new potential customers. They are also very useful in establishing your brand, but you need to use them wisely. In order to find out which hashtags will attract the most suitable audience for your business, it pays to do some research. Try out some of the most common hashtags to see how often they are being used and by whom, or how regularly they are being searched for and what results they produce.
Always start with your business or brand hashtag such as #energise and then add categories relating to your business or industry such as #webdesign #seo and #webhosting. The first will help you collect all of your own posts in one place and see who follows or engages with you, the other tags will help potential customers find you on the web. To make your business hashtag known, it’s a great idea to include it on your business cards, print flyers and any other form of advertising. That way it will soon become part of your online identity just as your URL or logo.
Hashtags on social media
The main reason for using hashtags on social media is to reach a wider audience, get people to engage with you and boost your brand. To effectively achieve those goals, it’s important to understand how each social media platform utilises hashtags and then put a strategy into place to ensure the best results for your business.
While Instagram users place hashtags to describe their post or picture, Twitter users focus on the topic of the conversation or group they want to target. Facebook again is different because most users have private profiles, so any hashtags used in their posts can only be found by friends.
The social media platform you use also defines how many hashtags you can or should use. Twitter has limited characters per post, so one or two hashtags are more than sufficient. With Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram there is no limit, though you should choose the number of hashtags wisely. Facebook and LinkedIn work similar to Twitter, recommending only 1 or 2 hashtags per post. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post and research as to what the perfect number is differs widely.