A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Hashtags

If you’ve used social media in any capacity you’ve probably come across the good ol’ “#” sign. That is a “hashtag” and believe it or not it holds some very powerful and unique super powers. This simple sign when used correctly can greatly benefit your business or brand when it come to digital marketing. So how can this one simple sign help your business improve? Let’s find out.

What the heck is a hashtag (#) anyway?

A hashtag, when boiled down to the basics, is the # sign (also referred to as a pound sign) that is used in front of a keyword or even a key phrase to help to describe a particular theme, topic, or idea. For example, if you are posting something on social media about your pizza business you could use the hashtag #pizza, or to be more specific the hashtag #DeepDishPepperoniPizza. When the # is used in front of a word or phrase it creates a clickable link that pulls up a feed from other users that have used that particular hashtag. We’ll get into why this is beneficial in just a second.

What are the benefits of hashtags?

Ok, so you know what a hashtag is but you may still be wondering why you even need to use one. Fair point. Let’s dive into the benefits of hashtags.

Boosts to your social posts

The largest benefit of using a hashtag in your posts is that it helps people discover you and your business. Because social networks turn these hashtags into clickable links when a user does click on one they’ll be served up a stream of posts from accounts that have also used that particular hashtag. So, using our pizza example from before let’s say that the city of Cincinnati is organizing Cincinnati Pizza Week and the official hashtag is #CincyPizzaWeek. By using this hashtag on social media users will be able to find your business and see that yes indeed you are participating in the week-long celebration. This is just one way to use a hashtag.

Account discovery

Another benefit is that hashtags can help users find accounts they’d like to follow. Particularly on Twitter, people like to engage with like minded users and one way to find these users are through hashtags. For example, maybe a user is especially interested in SEO. By searching the #SEO hashtag on Twitter you are presented with a feed of users that use this tag and can then engage with said users. So, the more you use particular hashtags the better chance other people can find your account.

Find relevant conversations

By using hashtags, you can also jump in on relevant conversations and trending topics. One particular industry trend that was a popular discussion on Twitter was when Google announced their “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update. People with opinions, facts, updates etc. could jump in on the #Mobilegeddon conversation by not only using the hashtag but by searching for it.

Best practices for using hashtags

Don’t keyword stuff

First and foremost, don’t spam. Adding in hashtags just for the heck of it is never a good thing. Stuffing keywords is a major turnoff for a user. Not only does it look desperate but it defeats the purpose of a useful hashtag. Which leads to another best practice.

Be specific

Try and be as specific as possible. By using the hashtag #SEO you are also fighting the troves of other’s that are using that hashtag. Try adding a location to it like #CincinnatiSEO or another unique identifier like #SocialSEO.

Utilize trending hashtags

Going back to the #Mobilegeddon example by jumping in on trending topics you stand a greater chance of being discovered. You have to make sure you actually have something relevant to add to the conversation however. Simply adding the hashtag to a post may put in front of users but they won’t engage or follow you if the content isn’t relevant.

Use the appropriate number of hashtags on each platform

Use the appropriate number of hashtags on each respective platform. We recommend using:
• Twitter – Typically no more than three
• Instagram – Typically 5-7
• Facebook – typically 2-3
• LinkedIn – Typically 2-3

While these are the numbers that we have found to be most successful it’s best if you experiment and find the best amount for you.

Simple. Yet effective.

Hashtags are a simple yet effective way to build an audience around your business social media accounts. While this isn’t the magical tool that will turn you into a social media star it is a practice that you need keep in the back of your mind when starting out marketing through social media. And of course, by no means are hashtags alone going to create an effective long term social media strategy. If you’re interested in a full suite of social media services you can learn much more by visiting our social media services page. From there we can discuss what we feel is the best course of action for your business. Thanks for reading and #HappyHashtagging!

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