One of the most asked questions I get is “what is the point of hashtags and how do I use them?” To start with the first question, hashtags are useful (depending on the platform) in categorising content and making it easier for people to search for certain topics. They can help you follow live events, or breaking news. They are also great for filtering out topics you don’t want to engage with.
No one person or brand owns a hashtag. You can think one up and just start using it. But if you want to use them effectively to grow your following and amplify content, then you need to be more strategic in your hashtag approach.
Let’s look at some general principles for using hashtags across your social media channels:
- Curate your hashtags for each channel. So, for Twitter, use 2 to 3 in a tweet, and include them contextually in your content. On Instagram, you can use many more, but don’t go overboard. LinkedIn has functional hashtags, so feel free to include 1 or 2 in your post. And while Facebook has functional hashtags, the jury is out on whether or not they are actually effective in amplifying your content.
- Use a mix of trending, general and brand hashtags. For example, I might use #possumdigital, but as it’s not a widely used hashtag, I might also want to use something more general like #socialmedia or #digitalmarketing.
- Keep your hashtag simple and easy to remember and use. You don’t want followers misspelling a well thought out hashtag only to lose the opportunity to generate effective conversation.
- Avoid using hashtags that don’t relate directly to your content. Social channel algorithms are smarter than us in this respect, so just because a hashtag is trending, doesn’t mean you should force it onto content that is irrelevant.
- Mix it up! Don’t use the same batch of hashtags every single time. Just like you need more than one channel to market your business, you need more than one group of hashtags to get your content seen by different people.
My best advice is to come up with a list of hashtags that you can use and swap out on your posts across social media channels. Make sure you keep it updated with trending ones, and remove any that may get banned or are no longer being used widely