Hashtags are the most overused social media tactic of online marketing. A close second is the “follow then unfollow” technique (which does absolutely nothing but waste your time). When used the right way, hashtags can be a fantastic method to help people discover your business.
What are hashtags? Hashtags are when you implement the pound sign before a word. The pound sign turns that word into a link you can click to see who else is discussing that particular topic.
Stop overusing #hashtags because it’s killing your #business.
Using the example above, you would be able to click the words “hashtags” and “business” to discover what other people are saying about it. You’ll most likely find unrelated posts of random musings from the millions and billions of people all over the world using the same generic hashtags.
Each social media platform has its own rules for how and when to use hashtags for your business. There are two rules that remain the same:
- No spaces. If you posted #graphic design, only the word “graphic” will be used for the hashtag.
- Capitalization is not important. The words #graphicdesign and #GraphicDesign will yield the same result.
Twitter is the cream of the crop and the social media channel where you don’t have to go far to see hashtags used correctly.
Hashtags on Twitter can help with your business in a number of ways.
- Help you to reach your target audience
- You can connect with your peers
- Get ideas for content
- Host and participate in Twitter chats
Twitter chats are like an online networking event for your niche. Twitter chats are organized by one person (or a team of people) to gather users of similar interests together and give them the opportunity to meet new people. They revolve around one specific hashtag. The host of the Twitter chat asks questions that include the hashtag and the attendees answer the questions with the hashtag included in their answer.
Kayla Hollatz conducts a Twitter chat called #createlounge. She broke the mold and created the first Twitter chat for creative bloggers in 2014.
Think about that for a moment.
Hashtags were born in 2007 and there wasn’t a twitter chat dedicated to bloggers until SEVEN YEARS LATER.
She didn’t re-invent anything, she didn’t come up with an entirely new idea. She simply found a different way to use something that already existed.
You can take a look at her spectacular #createlounge data and see how she broadened the scope of her twitter chat into an online and offline community.
In one year, her twitter chat had 127 million impressions on Twitter.
Be careful with trending hashtags. When hashtags are trending, it means a lot of people are talking about one topic at the same time. This is usually in correlation with an event or an episode of a popular show. Hashtags can also trend if someone with many [interactive] followers engages with their audience using a specific hashtag.
A trending hashtag isn’t always a great deal for you. If your audience doesn’t typically retweet you then it’s not likely your tweet will be found by strangers.
When topics are trending there are thousands of people tweeting about the same thing at the same time. Competition for exposure is at an all-time high.
Twitter defaults to show the “Top” tweets (tweets that get the most retweets)
If you’re going to participate in a trending hashtag, then it should be something you are passionate about (with a strong opinion one way or the other). Also, it should share the interests of your target audience. Otherwise, people will retweet you and forget about you.
Get discovered with interest-base hashtags. By adding hashtags to your tweets, you are giving people the opportunity to discover your content based on their interests. You can add hashtags to any tweet.
Stuffing your tweets with hashtags will dilute your message. Even though more people will see it, less people will care. Your tweet should have no more than two hashtags.
I use Hashtagify.me to decide which hashtags to use and to figure out which hashtags are closely related to each other.
Hashtags are most effectively used on Instagram when hosting (and participating in) giveaways and challenges. This is a great way to encourage community bonding as most people will look through other Instagram posts with that hashtag.
Humans are competitive that way.
If your Instagram has a uniformed and familiar feel (which it should) then using one set of hashtags for all your pictures is a great way to organically increase your following and to reach your target audience.
When you’re starting out at ground zero, hashtags can be a good way to get your initial 1,000 followers. You can implement mass-hashtaging to give your ideal audience a way to find your page.
Mass-hashtaging: Using the same combination of 30 different hashtags related to one topic for every Instagram post.
I’ve done it. It works.
The only rule to mass-hashtaging on Instagram is to place your hashtags as the first comment rather than in your actual post caption. Now, nobody can steal your carefully crafted hashtags and your posts won’t appear as spammy to your followers.
You should also wait a few minutes to add the hashtag so your followers have already gotten a chance to see the hashtag-less photo. It’s best to limit the amount of hashtags you use directly in your Instagram captions to four at the most.
After building up an interactive following (both via mass-hashtaging and leveraging your other platforms), you should stop using this method and allow your posts to be found organically.
Just don’t do it. Stick to writing keyword-rich descriptions for your pins. Hashtags are of no value.
Resources for using Pinterest:
People generally don’t search for random hashtags on Facebook and somehow this is where I see hashtags overused the most. I’m not saying there’s no value in using hashtags on Facebook, I’m saying that using #hashtags #before #every #word is pointless and … annoying.
Also using made up hashtags like #I’mSoSickofPeopleUsingHashtagsWRONGonFB isn’t helpful when trying to grow your business either.
The best way to use hashtags via Facebook is by adding value to trending stories. Facebook is still working out their algorithm of showing “Top” posts for certain trending stories and I believe they’re more focused on showing new posts rather than posts with the most likes or comments.
This means there is an extremely high chance of your post being seen for a trending topic.
Scheduling to Stay Sane
As you can see each social media platform has its own rules for #hashtags. Trying to remember the rules for each outlet is a little crazy. That’s why I use Hootsuite to schedule my social media posts. *Hootsuite now integrated Instagram as well* This way, I can simply use the formats I’ve already set to create new content for my social media channels respectively.
That’s why I use Hootsuite to schedule my social media posts. *Hootsuite now integrated Instagram as well* This way, I can simply use the formats I’ve already set to create new content for my social media channels respectively.
Nope, no affiliate links.
Which social media channel is your favorite? Comment below to let me know!
Resources for You
Top Trending Instagram Hashtags 2016 by Pauline Cabrera [TwelveSkip]
How to Run a Twitter Chat – Halley Gray [Evolve and Succeed]
One Year of Create Lounge – The Stats and Stories by Kayla Hollatz