If you’ve been anywhere near social media in the last decade, the term “hashtag” is probably something you have used before. Not only are they a vital part of social media usage, but when done properly, they have a crucial impact on the visibility of your brand. Use the following tips to build a hashtag strategy that delivers!
WHAT’S A HASHTAG?
Unlike hashbrowns, a delicious side to serve with your eggs, a hashtag is a keyword phrase used in social media marketing. It should be a single word, with no spaces, without punctuation, and should be included within or directly after your post.
Hashtags create a common thread among public conversation using just a single term, which can be explored by tapping the link or searching the term in the social media platform. They initially found their fame on Twitter, but are now used on the majority of social platforms.
To save yourself from making an embarrassing social media mistake, here’s an example. You just made a delicious breakfast and you take a picture to share. You add the #hashbrown with the photo. Bingo! You got it!
However, as a business, you need to know when to use hashtags appropriately and strategically.
BUSINESS VS PERSONAL USE
Hashtags are crucial for businesses that do anything online because they connect people to your brand. Creating hashtags that are related to your brand while using keywords that are commonly searched online, creates a perfect balance.
Another essential feature of using hashtags with your brand is knowing the analytics of those hashtags – like, how often that hashtag is used, or if it’s relevant to your brand, community, location, and other demographics.
Personal use of hashtags are more fun and can be off-topic from the posted content. Personal hashtags aren’t as concerned with analytics since there is no return-on-investment. Personal accounts aren’t selling anything, so there’s no use to those metrics.
A personal account is also not as concerned with the keyword density of a hashtag (how often a hashtag is searched online). If a hashtag is too generic, like the hashtag #hashbrown, it will be difficult to find your content since the hashtag may be inundated with generic photos of breakfast.
On the other hand, using a hashtag that is too specific may have lower visibility because most aren’t searching for hashtags that are so obscure. The real magic lies in finding the sweet spot between these two extremes.
Businesses should be using hashtags differently than the general public. It’s not uncommon to see a business holding a giveaway or contest on social media, while using helpful hashtags to segment people interacting with their content – “Like for #Hashbrown, RT for #TaterTots!”
While the goal of social media is trying to generate visibility and engagement, a brand needs to consider a few other factors – like brand consistency, gathering user-generated content, buyer personas and creating a connection with existing and potential clients.
Here’s a great example: Coca-Cola created the hashtag #ShareACoke during their Project Connect Campaign which consisted of printing some of the most popular names on their purchasable cans and bottles. Consumers flocked to find their own name, as well as their friends’, and then posted their findings on social media. They literally “shared a Coke”.
This created huge amounts of that user-generated content discussed earlier. This is a prime example of a proactive way of using hashtags – creating a unique hashtag that is connected to your brand.
BEST PRACTICES PER PLATFORM
In the same fashion that hashbrowns make your breakfast more interesting, hashtags make your content richer. While hashtags may be used on all social outlets, they act differently on each platform. The social platform can seek out and interact with content by searching for a specific hashtag. The platform actually uses them to learn the context of the associated content. There are however a few rules to follow to reap the benefits.
As an example, you are not allowed to use more than 30 hashtags in an Instagram post. Doing so will result in your hashtags losing proper functionality and becoming almost invisible to other users, even when those users are searching through the hashtags you posted. In regards to other platforms, It’s best to keep your hashtags between 2-4 per post when using outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Another key factor in your strategy is Placement. Twitter will allow you to put hashtags anywhere within your content, whereas Facebook and LinkedIn should keep hashtags at the end of the post copy. #AtTheEnd
WHY USE HASHTAGS?
For most people online, hashtags are easy to learn and understand. Using hashtags adds value to content and conversations online, but using them sparingly is the key. Too many hashtags or using them too often can add confusion to your content, and it may start to annoy the users that interact with you online.
Now that we’ve established what a hashtag is, it’s time to take a look at those who have influence online and ask for their help to reach more potential customers! These are called influencers. Influencers are users with a large presence and social media following. They help create user-generated content (UGC), which promotes your brand to a larger audience.
Online engagement will be helped dramatically by having influencers use your company’s hashtag. Creating a good hashtag can create high-visibility and searchability for your brand, which in turn results in a higher ROI.
HOW TO DEVELOP A HASHTAG STRATEGY
We know that strategy is crucial for all businesses. So having a hashtag strategy needs to be part of your digital plan. First, it’s good practice to use hashtags in every post you make, because it fosters more engagement and that continuity is good for your brand.
Now that you have an idea of what hashtags to use, you’ll want to create a hashtag funnel – a useful way to diversify your hashtags. Start off by prioritizing industry hashtags, followed up with niche hashtags, then brand, community, location, and event last.
This allows you to target every search angle that is relevant to your brand.
After putting together your hashtags for each category, you can then organize them by “cloud.” A hashtag cloud holds certain hashtags that can be used for certain content – making your hashtag strategy accessible and easy to execute.
For example, as a business, let’s say the next couple of pieces of content you post on Instagram are a photo of your team at a community gathering, and the other is a product photo from your inventory. The types of hashtags you would use on each post would be different in that – the event-based content would have more geo-location and community hashtags comparatively. Keeping your hashtags huddled together for specific content, saved into clouds, and ready to go when needed will save you time and energy.
If you can master these tips, you’ll have a winning hashtag strategy! Always remember that hashtags are a living organism online. As social platforms develop new tech and software – and the constant ebb and flow of social algorithms – hashtags can (and will) change.
Now, who wants hashbrowns?