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Hashing Out Hashtags: What You Need to Know

Recently, I did a presentation all about hashtags. In the room there were people with varying knowledge about Social Media, hashtags and marketing in general. I definitely saw a need to take what I’ve researched and learned throughout the years and write an article that would be useful to small businesses looking to enhance their Social Media strategy. And, of course, to spread the word about the good old pound symbol and how it has evolved to be so much more throughout the past few years.

What is a hashtag? A hashtag (#) is also known as a pound symbol or number sign. It is used in Social Media to categorize a keyword or topic.

Why should I use hashtags? When used properly and consistently, they can be an extremely effectively tool. You can use hashtags to:

  • Target a specific audience using a content driven approach
  • Monitor your reputation
  • Keep up with current events
  • Check out industry trends (industry, community, news)
  • See what’s happening locally
  • Market an event or promotion
  • Encourage conversations

What are the basics when it comes to using hashtags?

  • When using hashtags, make sure you don’t put any spaces between words. #SocialMediaMarketing vs. #Social Media Marketing
  • Don’t use special characters or you will break the hashtag. #SocialMediaMarketing vs. #Social-Media-Marketing!

What are some best practices?

  • Make your hashtag easy to read by capitalizing the first letter of each word. #CapitalizeTheFirstLetterOfEachWord vs. #capitalizethefirstletterofeachword
  • When you use a hashtag, make sure you know what its meaning is. A quick search can ensure that your hashtag doesn’t have a hidden message that you didn’t know about.
  • Don’t use all CAPS, unless it’s an acronym. You don’t want people to think you are yelling at them!

Find popular hashtags so you can consider using them when you post:

  • #TagDef: Find popular hashtags within a specific timeframe, along with what they mean.
  • Hashtagify: Search for hashtags related to your industry. Discover related hashtags, track popularity of specific hashtags and find leaders in the field according to a hashtag.
  • Research what your competitors and industry leaders are using.

Tips for creating a hashtag for your business:

  • Search each site you are using to see if your hashtag has already been used.
  • Make it memorable: keep it simple, unique, short and specific.
  • Consider any hidden meanings and run it by several people before using it.

Can I use the same hashtag strategy for every Social Media profile I have? No! Every Social Media site is unique and your hashtag strategy should differ from site to site to reflect this!

Here are some best practices for many of the most popular Social Media sites.

FACEBOOK

  • Don’t count on hashtags to boost engagement.
  • Most people have private profiles and posts, making it difficult to find posts that include any hashtag that you are searching for.
  • Hashtags with 10+ characters receive good engagement.
  • Use no more than 2 hashtags per post.
  • Add hashtag(s) at the end, not within the body of the post.

TWITTER

  • Geared towards a topic or conversation.
  • Put hashtags in your profile.
  • Tweets with hashtags get double the engagement and number of retweets.
  • Engagement is best when you use one hashtag per tweet and it decreases significantly when you use more than two.
  • See what is trending and tweet something specific use a trending hashtag.

INSTAGRAM

  • Geared towards topics or descriptions.
  • Follow hashtags relevant to your business, community or industry.
  • The top posts and most relevant posts appear when you click on a hashtag.
  • Don’t copy and paste the same set of hashtags for each post or Instagram will block those hashtags (this is called shadowbanning).
  • Use 10+ hashtags per post to increase engagement. The maximum number allowed is 30.
  • Put hashtags in your profile.
  • Have fun incorporating emojis in some of your hashtags (at the end of the hashtag).

LINKEDIN

  • Consider putting hashtags in your summary.
  • When you comment, use hashtags.
  • Post a list of keywords at the bottom of your articles using hashtags.

PINTEREST

  • Include hashtags in your pin description and your pins will become searchable.
  • The freshest (newest) pin will appear at the top of the list when searched.
  • You can edit hashtags after you pin something by editing the pin description.
  • Use no more than 3-4 hashtags. (Pinterest recommends 20 hashtags or less.)
  • Put hashtags at the end of your description.
  • Examples of hashtags that work include timely topics (#summertime #memorialday) and evergreen or classic topics (#healthylunchidea #motivation).

YOUTUBE

  • Consider putting hashtags in your title or description.
  • Don’t use more than 15 hashtags or all of your hashtags will be invalid.
  • Hashtags must be related to your content, or your video will be removed.
  • When you comment on someone’s video, use hashtags.

Now that I’ve bombarded you with A LOT of information about hashtags, I encourage you to do the following:

  • Research hashtags and create a go-to list of hashtags you can incorporate into your Social Media strategy.
  • Create a hashtag unique to your business.
  • Pick a Social Media site and start incorporating a hashtag strategy for that one site. Once you feel like you have a handle on it, incorporate the strategy into a second site and continue to do so until you are up and running on all the sites you’re on.

Most importantly, have fun with it and spread the word about hashtags to others who could benefit from it. After all, we’re all in this together. Many of us, including myself, are marketing our business or organization on a shoestring budget. And this is why I love Social Media! We can make a huge impact if we have some basic knowledge and a willingness to try out new techniques and strategies!

#HappyHashtagging

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