Hashtags are everywhere
If you don’t know what hashtags are, take a look at any social media program and look for a word or phrase with the number sign like this # in front of it. An example of a hashtag would be #hashtagslooklikethis.
Most people usually associate hashtags with using Twitter but now you can find them on all of your favorite social networks.
So how do you use these keywords with the # sign (remember when # meant numbers?) to help you connect with more customers? You see, there’s more to using a hashtag than just a bunch of words after the # symbol.
A hashtags’ main purpose is to make your content searchable. When users run a search on a specific topic, hashtags help them find your posts or images. This searchable function is a great way to extend the reach of your content and help you connect with people who are not already following you.
Basically, hashtags are used the same way in every social network. They act like a social media search engine.
When you decide to start using hashtags in your posts, well, that’s where it gets a bit tricky. You’ve seen others include them in their posts but the big questions is …. HOW do you use them to get the most effective punch to your posts?
Facebook just started using hashtags in 2013 so most people are still not in the habit adding them to their posts. Add in the fact that most Facebook users have their privacy settings up as high as they can get them, it makes it hard to use Facebook hashtags to track conversations around a specific topic.
If you’re going to use hashtags in Facebook, here are a few tips to help you with your posts:
- Don’t overuse or use too frequently – remember this is a new feature to Facebook users so too many #hashtag #references #in #your #posts will just aggravate your readers and they may hit that unfollow button.
- In my research, I wasn’t able to find one example where the use of a hashtag extended the reach of the marketing message to new Facebook users. If you do plan to test this out, run a search on the hashtag (the keyword + the # symbol) in Facebook’s search and see what comes up. You’ll be able to see what other conversation threads are posted using that keyword and to make a decision whether you’d like to add in the hashtag.
- IF you do decide to use hashtags in your Facebook messages, just add in ONE hashtag (read #1 again).
But over on Twitter
Hashtags are everywhere. There are way too many studies for me to quote but trust me when I say, your tweets will see an increase in retweets (sharing) when you use a hashtag.
And when you run a search on a specific hashtag, you’ll see real time results of conversations happening on Twitter. It’s a great way to monitor other companies in your industry or get some insight into what your customers are talking about.
Just a few tips on Twitter hashtags:
- Because Twitter was the first social site to use hashtags, they’ve made it easy for you to find the conversations that you’re looking for online. To use Twitter’s Advanced Search Function to help you streamline your search results, read this article from the Twitter Help Center.
- Keep your hashtags simple. Remember you only have a 140 characters to use in your tweet so make sure your hashtags are relevant to your post. You can also use them within the text of your tweet like this: Struggling with #socialmedia? Download the #Strategy Builder workbook!
- Try to limit your tweets to 1 – 3 hashtags. When most of your post is a bunch of hashtags, your tweets look more like spam than a message from your company.
Instagram loves hashtags
Instagram users love a good hashtag. Images that include hashtags get more Likes than images that don’t have anything added to the post. And adding these keyword hashtags to your photos allows you to connect to more Instagram users.
How to use hashtags on Intagram:
- Be very specific with your hashtags rather than using a general word. I use the #goldenretrievers hashtag on my Instagram account when I post a picture of my golden retriever. I’ll get a higher number of Likes and usually a couple of new followers when I add in hashtags like #goldensoninstagram rather than #dogs.
- Use relevant hashtags on your photos. Using my example above about my golden, it would make sense for me to add a #ilovegoldenretrievers hashtag but not a tag like #football. When users click on the hashtags, they’re expecting to see a photo of something related to the keyword and when they don’t see it, you’ll start to lose traffic to your account.
- The maximum hashtag number you can use on Instagram is 30 or your post won’t be uploaded. I don’t recommend using that many as that’s just WAY too much and looks beyond spammy. I would try to keep your hashtags between 6 – 10 relevant tags.
Pinterest’s pin tags
For a brief time, hashtags disappeared from Pinterest’s internal search but now they’re back. Hashtags in Pinterest are clickable links to help you find other pins (images) using the same word or phrase in the hashtag.
Try this cool trick – add a hashtag using your company’s name like #yourcompanyname to the Pinterest images you upload to the site. Then run a search to monitor your company’s hashtag and see what users are sharing. It’s a great way to keep an eye on what content is connecting with other pinners.
Pinterest’s hashtag search tips:
- Hashtags don’t work in board names, board descriptions and your profile description. They only work in the pin description of an image that you upload. You can add them to your text copy or at the end of the copy description.
- Unlike Twitter, a hashtag search does not pull up real time results. You’ll see a page listing the pins that have the hashtag in their pin description (the pin may have the hashtag included or the word may be part of the copy) and the listing order is based on traffic. The images with the most Likes and repins appear higher on the page rather than the most recent ones pinned.
- Hashtags are more acceptable on Pinterest than on Facebook but try to keep it to just one simple and relevant hashtag when you’re adding it into your pin description.
A little hashtag marketing can go a long way. Think about how you can use these tips when you’re creating your social posts. You’ll see how a simple hashtag can turn into a clickable link that helps new customers find what they’ve been looking for.
Photo credit: Social Media Apps