Understanding Hashtags: A Beginners Guide

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Hashtags have become crucial to social media. Their purpose is to categorise information easily so users can identify new sources of content which are relevant to them. Brands use hashtags as a way of marketing new campaigns, whereas, television companies use hashtags so viewers can discuss episodes or create a build up to launch a new show. They help build engagement by creating talking points and build awareness by getting content out to interested users.

But how should you use hashtags within your strategy, and how does each channel use them? We've put together our guide to turn you into a hashtagging whiz.

Understand your target market and how they use social media, what are they looking for? 

Keep it clear and simple

Hashtags work best when they are simple to understand. It is vital to look through your hashtags and note if the joining of multiple words can accidentally be misconstrued to have a new and unwanted meaning.

For example, if you are a kitchen company promoting a new product range, use simple hashtags such as #kitchen #kitchendesign #new #kitchentrends #productlaunch #comingsoon #kitcheninspo

Use trending hashtags

Twitter's trending list allows you to see what topics are gaining traction in either your country or around the globe. It's a good starting point to see if you have any content which can be spun into an already popular topic.

Hashtagify offers a quick and easy way to find new hashtags on Instagram and Facebook, similarly tagsfinder works well at finding hashtags in a specific country. 

Another tactic is to look at previous successful hashtags which are applicable on certain days, #throwbackthursday, #transformationtuesday are great examples of hashtags which already have a mass following.

If you run an interior design company you could use the hashtag #throwbackthursday to showcase your previous work and what services you offer and obviously this content would go live on a Thursday. 

Brand your company

The tagline for your company, or your company name, can be used as a hashtag. People who are interested in your brand can then find new content and updates easily, this is particularly useful on platforms such as Instagram.

For example, we manage Baggage Hub’s social media accounts and within each post we publish we include the hashtags #baggagehub and #howeverlifemoves.

Understand the channel

LinkedIn hashtags work differently to others. Hashtags on LinkedIn can be followed, which means it is important to use hashtags which are already established for maximum awareness. Like LinkedIn, users on Instagram can also follow hashtags, which is particularly useful if your content can fall into a specific category such as #cars #kitchendesign #cats. 

If you are travel company and you are trying to promote your services and the destinations you offer, the hashtag #travel will open you up to all viewers who choose to follow this hashtag. This means your engagement could improve, by essentially targeting, people who are interested in your content.

Don't go hashtag crazy

Hashtags are a great way of spreading brand awareness, which makes it easy to get carried away with turning everything into a hashtag, however, data and research shows that by using too many hashtags can in fact damage your engagement rate and put you at risk of being categorised as “spam”.

Twitter: with character count restrictions in mind, we would recommend not using any more than 2 hashtags.                                                                                                                                                       

Facebook: we would recommend using 3 hashtags. Try using one popular hashtag #photooftheday and one custom hashtag for your brand #nike or #justdoit.

Instagram: you can use up to 30 hashtags, but we would suggest keeping it to no more than 11 per post for the highest level of engagement.

LinkedIn: you can use an unlimited amount of hashtags on LinkedIn, though we would suggest that the maximum you use is 3. Otherwise, the LinkedIn algorithm could mark your posts as spam.

Through conducting thorough research and with the above tips, you'll be able to push your content further and engage with new and interested users. With this in mind, the recommendations around hashtags can be ever-changing as algorithms regularly update, which could make bringing in a specialist or agency worthwhile. 

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