Hashtags. You see them everywhere, and you may have a pretty good idea that they are important. But are you using them? If you are using them, have you built a hashtag strategy? In other words, have you thought about the hashtags you are including in your posts and making sure that they push your brand and your message strategically?
There are many good reasons to use hashtags. They are particularly important if you want to set your brand apart, reach more customers, and get your content found. If you rely on Twitter and Instagram, it is especially important that you pay attention to hashtags. Sure your followers may see your posts if you don’t use but hashtags make it easier.
One important thing to note before we continue is that each social media platform is its own search engine. Hashtags are used to locate the information we need with a simple search. Especially for platforms that reward hashtag usage – mainly Instagram and Twitter. The reason hashtags were created was to allow people to find and participate in specific online conversations. Today, they are used to attach content to a specific keyword so it can be found easily.
Hashtags are a powerful tool but you need a clear strategy. That means creating a plan, making a list, and then using the tags you choose consistently and strategically.
How To Pick Hashtags
Picking hashtags sounds simple, doesn’t it? The truth is it can be tricky. Think about how hard it is to find effective keywords for your content or an available domain name for your website. Pulling something out of the air (without a plan) just because it sounds good usually doesn’t work.
The more complicated or original the hashtag, the quicker your content will be found – but only by the people who already know to look for that tag. Common, frequently used, keywords have a better rate of return if the goal is to attract new traffic to your social media content. A unique hashtag is created for hosting and running events where you can announce the hashtag early and explain how to use it to attendees during the event. However, if you just want to attract healthcare professionals to your blog, for example, then #healthcare, #doctor, or #medical might be a better choice.
Where to start? First, your brand needs to create a strategy around why and how you want to use hashtags. Then you need to decide which hashtags to use. When it comes to Instagram, you need to find tags that focus on your brand, your community, or your content. Right now, the recommended number of hashtags per post on Instagram is between 20 and 30. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much engagement and how many new followers you’ll gain by using more tags on this platform. On Twitter, due to the character restriction, it really is better to limit it to 1-3 hashtags per posts. You’ll need to be much more strategic about the tags you use with your tweets since you are limited. These approaches are related, but they are also different. These social media channels are different since they are completely unrelated to one another so the strategy you use for one may not be successful with the other.
Luckily, there are some tools out there that can help. One particularly intriguing tool is Twubs. Twubs is a platform that is designed to gather up all your tweets and create a branded page. The site can also help you find trending hashtags, register your hashtags so that you can stake your claim to them, and conduct conferences and live events. This type of tool can help you monitor and track the impact of your hashtag strategy.
If you don’t want to use another tool, you can the research and tracking on your own. Twitter and Instagram make it easy to find what’s trending. You can search to find out if a tag is already being used and what sort of traction it’s making. Pay attention to the volume of usage and engagement generated by those following and using that hashtag.
A well-researched and thought out a set of hashtags that are used strategically can help you expand your reach and strengthen your brand. While it may take a little work to make sure that you are making the most of your tags, it will be well worth it in the end. Hashtags should be a key part of your overall social marketing plan. We recommend that each of our clients sit down and come up with 50 hashtags they could potentially use and then start incorporating them into their content marketing strategy.
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Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and the tools to manage them.