HOW THE HECK SHOULD YOU ACTUALLY USE HASHTAGS?
Fun fact: hashtags used to confuse THE HELL out of me. A few years ago I used to avoid using them, purely because I didn’t know how they worked and thought they’d be too difficult to wrap my head around.
Now, hashtags are one of the most high-impact strategies that I’ve used to grow my online presence. And honestly, I LOVE them.
Here’s a little snippet of how hashtags can rapidly grow your presence on social media…
- Tweets with hashtags receive 2x more engagement than those without hashtags
- Tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags
- Tweets with one or more hashtag are 55 percent more likely to be retweeted
- Interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags
I mean seriously, what single thing can do that for all your active social media platforms?
Plus, using hashtags played a huge part in the social media posting schedule that increased traffic to my blog by over 100%.
For that reason, when someone is starting to build their online presence and feeling the pressure to do #allthethings, I encourage them to focus on hashtags as one of their first actions.
It’s also why I encourage other bloggers and business owners that are already experienced to concentrate on hashtags too. They always work.
No matter what you write about or what social media channels you concentrate on, hashtags can help you quickly grow your traffic and community.
So let’s get into exactly why they're are so great and how to use them, too.
IN A NUTSHELL
#Hashtags (see what I did there 😉 ) have a main purpose of encouraging conversation and interaction. They make it a lot easier to find and join in with discussions online about everything from people, to world events to topics, events and more.
They also help to increase your visibility and get your brand discovered.
- Using hashtags doesn’t mean you can’t use images - especially with Twitter’s latest update, as images now aren’t included in the character count. If you use hashtags and an image you’re boosting views and encouraging additional engagement too.
- Use hashtags at the end of a post. So if you’re on Twitter you can include two at the end of your tweet and on Instagram, you can either include them at the end of your caption or as your first comment. The image below shows you how I do it. This really helps with easy readability.
- Keep an eye out on Twitter each day for trending hashtags. For instance, on a Monday you’ll see #MondayMotivation trending and on Wednesday it’ll be #WednesdayWisdom. Try and incorporate these into your social strategy in a way that they’ll compliment your content. So when you’re sharing a quote, you can easily add one of these hashtags on the end, along with #QuoteOfTheDay. This can be an easy way to gain followers without even realising.
- Run a competition using hashtags. Loads of people do this on Twitter saying RT & follow to win, and you can just include your hashtag within that competition tweet. You can even set up notifications so you’re notified every time your specific hashtag is used.
- Do your research first. Hashtags are great, but only if you use the right ones. A mixture of popular ones and ones that relate to your brand are best.
- Don’t try to replace your content with hashtags. They’re meant to actually quality to your posts, not actually replace them.
- #Don’t #hashtag #every #word. Or #hashtagareallylongphraselikethis. If you have trouble reading it, that means others will too.
- Don’t go mad with trending hashtags. If you try and spam them, you’ll get lost amongst all the other people using it. If you can’t think of anything to say, don’t just use a hashtag for the sake of it.
- Don’t steal hashtags. Sounds silly but it happens. This is especially important for competitions and campaigns. Just like everything, originality is key.
- And finally, don’t use hashtags incorrectly. If you’re taking part in a Twitter chat or at an event where a hashtag is being used, don’t just guess what it is and risk missing out in the conversation. Make sure you know for sure.
So they’re some general do’s and don’t’s. Now, even though hashtags work on most social media platforms, that doesn’t mean they can be used in the same way. In fact, each channel has it’s own unique way of using hashtags and that’s what we’re going to dig into right now.
USING HASHTAGS ON TWITTER
You saw the stats earlier - using hashtags on Twitter is a sure fire way to boost your presence on that platform. It’s all about categorisation. So you think it would just be as simple as going all out and using as many as you want, right?
If only it were that simple.
You actually want to keep it to no more than two. Tweets with more than two hashtags actually see a decrease in engagement by about 17%.
Twitter have said themselves that there is a huge advantage to people who use hashtags on this platform, especially when it comes to engagement. And remember, engagement on Twitter includes everything from clicks and retweets to favourites and mentions. Whatever factor you want to focus on, using hashtags will help you reach your goals.
Why do you think when you look at what’s trending on Twitter, it’s mostly hashtags? They work.
USING HASHTAGS ON INSTAGRAM
Instagram is an ultimate hotspot for hashtags. Whereas on Twitter you want to limit how many you use, on Instagram you can go all out. Want more interaction and results on this platform? Data shows that posts with 11+ hashtags receive the most engagement.
Instagram has a limit of 30 hashtags per post, but you can use up to 30 on every photo you post.
But what’s even better about this research is that it comes from studies of accounts that have 1,000 followers or less, which is actually a huge amount of people. Really, hashtags are the best way to grow your following on this platform. I wrote a post about exactly how I did this which you can read here.
USING HASHTAGS ON FACEBOOK
Here’s where things get a little difference, because Facebook is actually the odd one out when it comes to hashtags.
On Facebook, posts without hashtags perform better than those with hashtags.
We did see them around for a while and people started to try and figure out the best way to use them. But they still don’t have any positive effect. Like anything, you could always test this for a few months and see what happens - you never know what could happen in a few months when it comes to social media!
USING HASHTAGS ON GOOGLE+
If you’re not on Google+ then you should be, and I’ve got a whole post coming up soon on why this social platform is so great.
With Google+, your posts are automatically given hashtags based on their content. But you also get the chance to edit them and add your own too. Plus, you can also include them in your comments which increases your visibility even more.
At its core, Google+ is a search engine and because Google is so powerful, that means it’ll pull your hashtags right through into searches. So much so, that if you were to type a hashtag into Google, it’d be able to find it. Magic!
TIPS FOR CREATING YOUR OWN HASHTAG
A good hashtag is three things:
- Related to your post
You want to make it simple to remember, yet not so broad that it becomes difficult to track.
Double check the meaning, double check that it doesn’t already exist and always test it out before marketing it heavily.
A FINAL NOTE
Hopefully you’ve learnt a lot about hashtags here, but also how to use them for each specific platform.
When it comes to deciding what hashtags to use, I wrote a whole list for Instagram here and for Twitter, just watch what your fellow bloggers are doing and take inspiration from them. One thing is for sure…
Hashtags are here to stay.
What hashtags do you find work well for you on social media? I’d love to see how you use hashtags in your social media strategy!