Hashtags have been around for almost over a decade now and influence to a large extent the social media behaviour of the present generation. From drawing the attention of voters during elections, to getting people react to events to prompting movements like the trending #metoo, hashtags have become an important part of our social language. An article in the Review At NYU dubs these the “linguistic innovation in 21st century….” (Source:http://www.thereviewatnyu.com/all/2017/3/6/lets-hash-it-out-hashtags-as-a-linguistic-innovation-in-21st-century-political-discourse)
Our article explores the term and its uses across different social media channels by brands and businesses. It also specifies as to why you or the online marketing services should consider it for use in your social media marketing strategy.
What are hashtags?
The user-generated metadata tags, hashtags are commonly used in social networking sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc, to identify content with similar themes. The term has derived its nomenclature from the pound symbol (#) used as a prefix. The origin of hashtag can be traced to Chris Messina, a social technology expert who proposed it in 2007 in a tweet. The tweet appeared as:
“how do you feel about using #(pound0 for groups. As in #barcamp [msg] ??”
Though it was only the San Diego forest fires in Southern California in the same year that prompted people to start using the tags. Ever since then, hashtags have spread like wild fire with most social media platforms adopting these over time. Twitter brought these into their platform officially in 2009, followed by Instagram in 2010 and Facebook in 2013. Other platforms like Google+, Pinterest and very recently, YouTube too has followed suit.
Why are hashtags important?
In the world of social media, hashtags are the keys to getting your posts, images and videos in front of people. These keyword prefixes help in categorizing content of the same kind. For example, if you are searching for digital marketing in Instagram, you would be shown results that are tagged as #digitalmarketing. This is true for other social networking platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, etc as well.
Digital marketing experts need to understand the benefits of strategic tagging. Instant engagement is just one of the benefits that comes with hashtagging correctly. If you want quick eyeballs on your new product, use a relevant hashtag and watch the views and likes soar. Hashtags in Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr make your post searchable without confining them to your profile alone. This enhances your reach as even those people who do not follow you will be able to see your content. Hashtags are one of the easiest ways to reach out to a mass of people very quickly.
How to find the right social media hashtags for your business?
One of the best ways to grow the social presence of your business across different networking platforms is to have a hashtag strategy. Though most platforms have almost a similar mechanism regarding how hashtags work, they have different rules regarding how they function within the platforms. For example, the likeforlike hashtag is very popular in Instagram and very effective in increasing engagement but it doesn’t return the same high rate of engagement when you use it in Pinterest. We will take a look at some of the most popular social media platforms and the strategies you or the digital marketing services should adopt to make hashtags work for your business when using these social networks.
A guide to Instagram hashtags in 2019
Instagram is a platform driven by hashtags. The one route to success in Instagram besides having a crisp and clear feed is to use hashtags that define your business. The latest Instagram changes have made it possible for users to follow popular hashtags. Instagram is also testing if there could be a separate section for the tags other than the text body. Therefore, for attracting the right demographic for your business, you need to have a strong hashtag strategy.
- One of the best ways to search for hashtags on Instagram is to go to the Explore Tab and in the search box enter the keyword related to your business. Say you sell eco-friendly beauty products, you will come across hashtags like #cleanbeauty #ecofriendlyproducts #greenbeauty.
- Once you search for the tags, you will see them appear with the number of posts that are already on the platform. Like if you search for #cleanbeauty, you will find 1.1 million posts that have been tagged with the same tag within Instagram. This means you are competing against thousands of businesses that are selling similar products along with users who are buying them with both groups using similar tags.
- To prevent your photos from getting lost in a sea of similarly tagged photos, go for the tags that have less posts attached to them. Find synonyms of the tags and play around with words to find a list of tags you can use in your photos. You should use a mix of the most popular tags along with the ones that are not as popular. Use tags like #cleanbeautygram #cleanbeautytribe #cleanbeautyroutine etc that have less number of posts but is still going to make your products visible to your target audience viz. those who enjoy eco-friendly products.
- Instagram allows the use of 30 tags, which you should always try to use. It However, it is stated by many that the optimum number of tags that work best is 11 after which the law of diminishing returns is set in motion. Instagram Stories, on the other hand, allow 10 hashtags to be posted.
Related Article: Increase Your Reach with Instagram SEO Techniques
How to use hashtags in Twitter in 2019?
Twitter was the platform that gave birth to the hashtags in 2007. Over the years, hashtags have evolved across the platform and have become important means of communication among the users of the platform. In Twitter, there are trending hashtags that appear in a box to the left. These are generally called Twitter Trends and you can view the worldwide as well as country wise trending tags. We shall cover this later in the article. What this means is that businesses need to use these tags to get their content before their target audience. Hashtags not only help in categorizing content but also in identifying the ones relevant for your business. You or the internet marketing services can study the kind of hashtags that your competitors are using to reach out to a similar kind of audience.
- Capitalizing on trending hashtags has given brands in this platform a better engagement rate than when they do with a normal tweet. This means you need to try creating a tweet around a trending hashtag once in a while to get better exposure for your brand or your Twitter profile.
- When using hashtags in Twitter, it is always better to write the correct spelling and avoid typos to make your hashtag discoverable.
- Use hashtags that naturally fit into your brand’s profile. Using irrelevant hashtags can lead to poor user engagement.
- Using the hashtags that people commonly engage with will push your brand’s visibility above others.
- Use hashtags to start a discussion and encourage others to join the same.
Why & how to use hashtags in Pinterest?
Pinterest is a visual search engine and social platform where millions of photos are shared or in its terminology pinned everyday by its 250 million users. This means there are a large number of users on the platform making it an ideal place to get new clients.
In Pinterest, hashtags can be searched in two ways. One way is to place the hashtag word into the Pinterest search bar. While the second one is to click on a hashtag in a description to get the feed.
- The primary way to use hashtags in Pinterest is to use them in your pin descriptions.
- No more than 20 hashtags should be used in Pinterest.
- Using long tail keywords along with the popular keyword combinations.
- You can create a branded hashtag and use it on the pins in your profile.
How to use hashtags on Facebook?
Using hashtags on Facebook is different than using it on Instagram or Twitter. Though hashtags have been around since 2014, their use is still a mystery to most of the users of social media platforms. With only a room for 40 to 80 character limit, using many hashtags on Facebook will not add to your user engagement. Over the years, brands and businesses have been split into two fronts where some totally ignore them while others place some key hashtags strategically in the captions.
We will talk about the latter strategy when it comes to using hashtags.
- It is better to use at least one hashtag on every post given that it fits.
- Hashtags in Facebook make your post more searchable as compared to those that do not use it. Hashtagged posts according to Sprout Social has a 12.7% better engagement rate.
- To know which hashtags are effective you can type – facebook.com/hashtag/topic in the search bar. This will display a list of posts that are tagged using them.
- In Facebook, it is advisable to keep the number of hashtags limited as more number of hashtags can confuse the audience and is not known to generate more engagement.
- In Facebook, hashtags can get the maximum engagement if you use them in a sentence.
All About Using YouTube Hashtags
YouTube was pretty late when it came to introducing hashtags on the platform. But now that they have done it, they are giving the tags more visibility. As of now, the hashtags appear above the video description making the videos searchable using these tags. The update that rolled out will now take the top three tags from the video description and display them above the latter. This means YouTubers and marketers need to use the best three hashtags in their hashtag list to improve their reach and engagement.
The problem with YouTube hashtag is that it pulls up other uploaded videos that use the same ones in their description. Say you search with #socialmedia, it will display the videos that have the tag #socialmedia in them. However, if you use the YouTube search bar and type in social media then you will get results that are totally different. Hashtags in YouTube do not work the same way as they do in Instagram or Twitter, but then hashtags are still effective in boosting your video’s search presence when in the platform.
Hashtags should be an important part of your social media marketing strategy of 2019. Instead of treating them as mere additions to your promotional texts, they should be well researched and used strategically to derive the maximum benefits. Therefore, a successful hashtag strategy that brings in brand engagement is going to be the one that uses hashtags in tune with the content instead of using them aimlessly in the promotional content. Should you want your brand and content to get the maximum views and stay ahead of the competition, it is better to engage proficient social media marketing services.