No matter what social media platform you’re using, hashtags will be highly beneficial when it comes to sharing content, whether you’re using them for personal or business accounts. Either way, hashtags will help to increase engagement, which could then mean more followers, likes and comments. Subsequently, your posts could reach a considerable number of people in addition to the followers you already have.
So what are hashtags, why do we use them and how can they be implemented across those all-important social media networks?
Hashtags were first used on Twitter in 2007 by a marketing expert called Chris Messina. It was brought in as a way to group all related Tweets together, preferably in one feed. The first ever hashtag that appeared in a Tweet, posted by Messina himself, was #barcamp. After that, the use of the hashtag boomed in popularity, making it what it is today.
There are a number of reasons why hashtags are used on social media, as well as to group related content together, including:
It helps to build your brand – branded hashtags are proving to be a popular marketing tactic. It will only be associated with your brand and it will also help to drive conversation and promote your business or brand.
They can show support for social issues – it’s an effective, simple way for your brand to get behind a cause or movement. It shows both your existing and prospective followers that your brand has its own identity and values which can help to build rapport and strengthen connections with your audience.
It can help to add context to your posts, especially on Twitter – you don’t always have a lot of space to write your captions, so hashtags can help to reaffirm the topic and context of your social media post, ensuring your followers have a clear understanding of what your Tweet is about.
They make it easier for your target audience to find you – users can follow hashtags on platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn, making it even more likely that your posts will be seen by the people you’ve initially been targeting.
Despite what some influencers advise, it’s not always beneficial to use the most popular hashtags that are out there. They may be so generic that, if you attached it to a post of yours, it won’t be seen by targeted people. Popular hashtags could also be completely irrelevant to your brand, values or what you’re trying to sell, creating confusion amongst your existing followers. The best thing to do is to occasionally check to see what the popular hashtags are in case any come up that are related to what it is you do.
However, you shouldn’t rule out using popular hashtags altogether as some of them can help to get you involved in fun online conversations, such as #throwbackthrusday. Again, this gives your brand personality which others could then relate to, making it even more likely that you’ll gain likes and follows, no matter what social media platform you use.
There are a number of generic rules for using a hashtag, or a series of hashtags, correctly, including:
Although hashtags can be used across all social media platforms, there are certain tactics and strategies you can implement depending on what account you’re using them for. For example, three or more creative hashtags would be most beneficial on Instagram whereas specific, relevant hashtags should be saved for Twitter.
Here are a few other ways that hashtags can be used depending on the social media platform you’re posting on.
You’ll also be able to search for a specific hashtag, topic or keyword, along with seeing which hashtags are trending in real time.
You’ll also be able to search for hashtags on Facebook, much like Twitter, and click on them to open feeds and posts that are all related to the hashtag you have clicked on. If you’re in a private group, then hashtags can be searched for within that specific group using the ‘search this group’ bar.
You’ll also be able to search for specific hashtags on Instagram’s ‘Explore’ section. There’s also an option to follow a certain hashtag, making it easier for you to see what your competitors are doing with their social media accounts.
Like most social media accounts, you’ll be able to search for specific hashtags and see which ones are trending. LinkedIn will also give you hashtag suggestions, helping you even more when you come to write your post. Do keep in mind, however, that LinkedIn is a professional platform, so be mindful of this when choosing hashtags to include.
As an experienced Copywriter, Lorna enjoys creating varied content for an abundance of different industries and sectors. From detailed, informative articles to creative infographics, she's always looking to inject originality into the work she produces. When she isn't working, Lorna runs her own lifestyle blog, plays the guitar and loves to take part in charity runs.