Hashtags have flooded social media posts for more than a decade now. If you’ve still found yourself struggling to use them effectively, you’re not alone. When used appropriately, these symbols can be a vital tool for your business. Effectively tagging your posts can be crucial to building your social media brand and following.
Once upon a time, the hashtag was humbly known as the pound symbol. But now—when used correctly—the mighty hashtag can help individuals and brands make their social posts more noticeable. And this builds brand identity and increases engagement.
What is a hashtag, exactly? A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#). They’re used within a social media post to identify a keyword or topic and facilitate a search for it. A hashtag helps other people who are interested in a specific topic find more information about it. For example, the hashtags #startuptips and #smallbusinessbranding could help someone find a business promoting a start-up or small business. Hashtags can also be used to support a personal brand. For instance, one of the most effective social networks for photographers is Instagram. A photographer can promote their work using specific hashtags like #photooftheday. If used efficiently, hashtags are a great way to categorize your posts and develop followers.
Where can you use hashtags? Hashtags are most popular on Instagram. They are also used on Facebook and Twitter—finding their origins on Twitter with a tweet by a San Francisco techie in 2007.
How to use hashtags on each platform: Hashtags can be used the same way on all platforms. You can make anything into a hashtag by placing # before your word, acronym, or phrase without spaces. Tags will appear in bold within your status. After your post is up, you can click on your hashtag to see who else is using that same phrase and what they are saying.
How-to hashtag: a hashtag should contain one word, or more, without spaces. No punctuation included. For example: #dedication #loveislove
- Incorporate the hashtag within or after your message.
- The hashtag will represent your brand, so keep it short and sweet.
- Check and make sure the hashtag is already in use.
- Spread your hashtag on all your social media.
- Try to monitor the people that interact with your hashtag and use it as an opportunity to interact with them whenever it makes sense.
How-not-to hashtag: Hashtags can help your business take off, but improper use—or overuse—of them can be a turn-off.
- Too many hashtags can be overwhelming and cause viewers to move to the next post.
- Hashtags unrelated to your post can confuse the viewer.
- Hashtags that seem random or without a strategy (like #hello) can seem pointless to a follower and will get completely lost among millions of hello hashtags.
- Hashtags that are overly long and specific like #ThingsIdidwrongwhenIwasseventeen (though funny) probably aren’t well-known and won’t get much attention.
Don’t underestimate the influence of an appropriate hashtag. Hashtags can be powerful— so powerful that they’ve triggered movements like #MeToo and #TakeAKnee. They help your posts reach a target audience, attract followers, increase engagement, and help develop brand identity. Hashtags also help your posts get discovered by the viewers most interested in that topic. And most importantly, hashtags help people find you.