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How to use social media hashtags

Hashtags. The unofficial symbol of the millennial digital age.
No matter which social media network you use, social media hashtags probably appear somewhere in your social media strategy.
But, while a good hashtag strategy is important, you have to know how to choose the right hashtags first.
Here’s our guide to hashtags, and how to use them correctly.

Social Media Hashtags 101: Choosing The Right Hashtags

What Is A Hashtag?

While hashtags have been used since as early as 1988, they skyrocketed to popularity in 2007, thanks to a tweet by open-source advocate Chris Messina. (And they’ve been confusing marketers and media professionals since then).
Social media hashtags were initially used to organise content.
As we know them, hashtags are used to relate content to specific events, topics, themes, or conversations.
Their job is to make searching for (and finding) specific things easier for you.
Today, social media hashtags are used on just about every platform: from Instagram, to Twitter, to Facebook.

Hashtag Basics:

  • Hashtags always start with a # symbol.
  • They don’t work if you use a space, punctuation, or any other symbol in them.
  • Hashtagged content is only visible if your account is public.
  • The best hashtags are short and sweet.
  • Obscure hashtags don’t usually garner many followers.
  • Limit the number of hashtags. Don’t spam.

 

Why Use Hashtags?

Increased Engagement

Using hashtags allows you to take part in conversations happening on a specific platform.
It also makes your posts visible in that conversation.
Ultimately, it allows you to get more likes, shares, and engagement – meaning more comments, and more followers.

Brand Growth

Creating and using a branded hashtag is a great way to grow your brand, promote your business, and drive conversation.

Show Support

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

How To Choose The Right Hashtags

While it might seem tempting, using ultra-popular hashtags isn’t necessarily the best way to get traction.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to make the most of your hashtags:

  • Look at the social media hashtags your competitors and relevant influencers in your brand’s niche are using in their posts.
  • Use tools to help you get relevant hashtags.
    Some tools you can use are:

  • Hashtagify
  • RiteTag
  • All Hashtag
  • Display Purposes
  • Tagblender
  • Keep an eye on trending hashtags to ensure your hashtags remain relevant and perform well.
    Brand Mentions has a great tool to keep an eye on this!
  • Find related hashtags to include in your hashtag strategy.

 

Best Practices For Using Hashtags

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to social media hashtags.
Each network has different algorithms which influence how you’ll use hashtags.

Facebook

Optimal amount of hashtags: 1-2 per post.

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 pick 1-2 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 tricky to track how people interact with hashtags.
Using more than 2 hashtags per post can be spammy, and could lead to getting flagged.

Hashtags on Facebook:

  • Can be included in any part of your Facebook copy, or in the comments.
  • Are also useful for grouping content in private Facebook groups by theme or topic.
    This is important for brands to keep in mind considering how Facebook is seeing its users shift to private channels.

You can:

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

Twitter

Optimal amount of hashtags: 1-2 per tweet.

Tweets with up to 2 hashtags have been found to get up to twice as much engagement (clicks, retweets, favourites, and replies).
While you can use as many hashtags as you want, using more than 2 is considered spammy, and has been linked to decreased engagement.

Hashtags on Twitter:

  • Can be used anywhere in your tweets.
    Use them at the beginning for emphasis, at the end for context, or in the middle to highlight a specific word or phrase.
  • Can also be added in comments, in replies, in retweets, and in your Twitter bio.

You can:

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

Instagram

Optimal amount of hashtags: 5-30 per post.

Instagram allows you to have as many as 30 hashtags in any post.
While the jury is still out on the perfect amount, some marketing professionals recommend using all 30, while others say that 30 is spammy, and recommend 5-10 as the perfect amount.
It’s a good idea to post Instagram hashtags as the post’s first comment, or in a caption under a row of dots (like full stops).

Hashtags on Instagram:

  • Can be added after writing your caption, or in the comments.
  • Can be as many as 10 in Instagram Stories.
  • Can be included in your Instagram bio.

You can:

  • Use the tags tab of Instagram’s Explore section to search for hashtags.
  • Follow hashtags. This means that content from any user can show up in your feed as long as it contains that hashtag.

With Instagram Business Accounts, you can also access Instagram Insights.
After that, you can see how many impressions your profile gets from hashtags.

Pinterest

Optimal amount of hashtags: 2-5 per pin.

Hashtags on Pinterest are another topic of debate.
For instance, some marketing professionals feel that hashtags don’t belong on the platform.
But, using hashtags that are searchable and specific really is key on this platform. Don’t use more than 20 in a pin description, as it’ll make your post less visible.

Hashtags on Pinterest:

  • Can be included in a pin’s description when using Pinterest for business.
  • Offers hashtag suggestions on mobile when creating a new pin.

You can:

  • Search for hashtags in Pinterest’s search bar.
  • Monitor hashtag performance on software like Hootsuite.

LinkedIn

Optimal amount of hashtags: 1-3 per post.

Including up to 3 hashtags in your company’s LinkedIn posts can help people find your content better.
There’s no limit to the amount of hashtags you can use in a post, but using more than 3 runs the risk of your post being flagged for spam.

Hashtags on LinkedIn:

  • Can be incorporated anywhere into a written LinkedIn update and LinkedIn article.

You can:

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

 

YouTube

Optimal amount of hashtags: 1-3 per video.

On YouTube, hashtags are hyperlinked in titles and descriptions.
This allows users to find other content with the same hashtag by clicking or tapping on it.
Make sure not to use more than 15 hashtags as YouTube will ignore extras, and could flag your content for spammy behaviour.

Hashtags on YouTube:

  • Can be added in the video title or description.
  • Can be clicked on to view a feed with other videos using those hashtags.

You can:

  • Search for hashtags in YouTube’s search bar.
  • Track hashtags on software like RiteTag.

TikTok

Optimal amount of hashtags: 2-5 per video

One of the fastest growing social media platforms to date, TikTok’s hashtag system functions similarly to its biggest competition: Instagram.
While Instagram allows for more hashtags, the ideal amount of hashtags for TikTok is 2-5.
Any more, and you become spammy. Any less, and you become invisible.

Hashtags on TikTok:

  • Can be added in post captions.
  • Can be added into posts when editing the caption.

You can:

  • Search for hashtags in TikTok’s search bar.
  • Find trending hashtags in the “Discover” page of the app.

 

Conclusion

And there you have it: social media hashtags, and how to choose the right ones.
If you’re not already, it’s time to consider using them in your social media strategy.
And remember: #dont #overuse #the #hashtag.

Frequently Asked Questions

Instagram has confirmed that hashtags are effective in both your post caption and the comments section – so it’s totally up to you where you want to share them.
Sometimes your hashtags don’t work because your audience is not interested in what you’re sharing.
While Instagram allows users up to 30 hashtags for feed posts and ten hashtags for Instagram Stories, some social media experts take the less is more approach. For instance, Instagram’s @Creators account suggests using between 3-5 hashtags per post, which is unusually low.

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