Updated: Feb 1, 2019
Today, whether you are on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or just reading the news, you simply cannot escape the all encompassing presence of the #hashtag. But what exactly is a hashtag and how should we use them in business marketing?
With thousands of images published every minute on all social platforms, it can be hard to stand out amongst the crowd. The possibility for your post to be seen isn’t promising, unless they are one of your followers. That’s where hashtags come into play. A hashtag is a keyword or phrase preceded by the hash symbol (#), written within a post or comment to highlight it and facilitate a search for it. Essentially, by including hash marks in your post; it can be indexed by the social network so that it can be discoverable to everyone, even if they’re not your followers or fans.
Thanks to hashtags, your posts aren’t limited to just your followers. By adding one of these , your content will be accessible to all other users interested in similar topics who search for your hashtag. Choosing the right hashtag can greatly broaden the reach of your social media posts to thousands of potential followers, fans or customers.
It may be tempting to go for an obvious tag - e.g.if you run a juice bar such as #fruit, but beware! With over a million #fruit posts and growing the chances of being seen are slim. Now if you throw on a more specific tag like #drinkyourveggies, your looking at better odds.
There are 3 types of Hashtag:
Brand Specific hashtags
Content: These are the most widely used and obvious ones that match the content of your posts . So for Let's Start Design I might use #Letsstartdesign #socialmedia #smallbiz #Wix #websitedesign. This exposes your post to followers who are interested in these hashtags.
Trending: As you start paying attention to hashtags you will discover those that being used widely currently- the #metoo movement was a recent example. Before you add a trending hashtag to your post make sure that it is relevant and that your post adds value or a different viewpoint that might be of interest to your potential viewers.
Brand Specific: You can create your own dedicated ‘brand-specific hashtags’. These can be used for general branding, promotions, events, contests or other marketing campaigns. The key to creating an effective brand-specific hashtag is to ensure that there is no one else using the same hashtag. It has to be unique and memorable. Create one for an event or a specific promotion or discount.
How To Use Hashtags:
To create a hashtag, all you need to do is include a ‘#’ and a relevant keyword or phrase. You should keep it short - a few words -not eight. Also avoid writing your entire caption with one hashtag per word. #no#one#wants#to#decipher#this#phrase. Put the # next to the word that is relevant to your post.
Try to mix content hashtags that have a high volume of usage, with other hashtags that are more specific. For example, let’s say you have a restaurant and you want to post a picture of your latest chicken dish on Instagram. #Food is an obvious choice, but with over 258 millions posts using it, you have no chance to stand out. Try and find more ‘niche’ hashtags, such as #chickenparm or #chickendinner.
As always, a little research will go a long way. Hashtagify is a good place to start and identifies the usage of tags. And of course, nothing will beat the good old trial and error - learn as you try.