If you want to know how to use hashtags, then this is the blog for you.
First of all, what are hashtags?
Hashtags are a simple keyword or phrase with the little hashtag symbol (#) in front of it.
Think of hashtags as a way to connect social media content to a specific topic, event, industry, theme, subject. That’s what they do.
They make your posts easier to find on social media. So, if you don’t use any hashtags on social media (depending on which social media platform you are on) your social media pots, will just get seen by your existing followers.
If you use hashtags on your social media, it opens up whatever you are posting about to a greater and wider audience. So, they are really important for getting a new audience and building your audience or online community.
There is also a question of where to use them as well and there are so many different social media platforms too. But different platforms use hashtags in different ways. So, Twitter is a great place for using hashtags, if you can fit them all into the 280 character limit that you’ve got in there. In Twitter, you often hear people say “it’s trending.” That’s because people are using hashtags and that topic or subject is being found with that hashtag.
For example, if there’s a football game on then you may see #LiverpoolFC, or if there’s an event or a tv programme #BritainsGotTalent or #BGT. So, then everyone can see the conversation that’s happening around Twitter.
Instagram is an amazing place to use hashtags as well, and you can use up to thirty hashtags on your Instagram posts.
On Facebook there is really no significant impact of using hashtags, particularly on your personal page. A lot of personal pages are private, so they would never get found. Some brands do use them, so you could have a look at those, but to be honest, they don’t really serve much purpose on Facebook.
You can also use them on LinkedIn, as long as they are nice and relevant to your post, and probably between five and ten.
Tip 1- How to find hashtags
So one of the first things to know is how to find hashtags.
A lot of people just don’t know what words to use as a hashtag and don’t know what they should be picking. A really good tool for trying to find what hashtags you should use is Instagram itself.
Using the search tool, you can type in keywords and phrases. Under the ‘tags’ section, it will show you everything that comes up that’s relevant to that hashtag, and it will tell you how many people have used that hashtag as well. So, it is a really good tool for looking at what hashtags you could be using.
Another good tool if you are using Twitter, again in the search, having a look at what is trending on different days, having a look in the search bar and searching for different subjects, and that will bring up more ideas on what you can do.
You could also go into Google and put #anniversaries or #days and all the possible hashtag ideas you could use will also come up there. For example #TopTipTuesday, #marketingtips, #MotivationMonday #WednesdayWisdom #ThrowbackThursday #FactFriday or #FunFriday #SaturdayVibes #SundayVibes #SundayChills
My favourite place to find hashtags is within the Instagram search; it’s a really good place to see what hashtags are popular, what’s relevant in your industry and how many people are using them as well.
Tip 2 – Create a hashtag bank
So, once you have all these hashtags and you sit down to write your post it’s hard to remember them or know which ones to use. So, you should create a hashtag bank. It’s entirely up to you how you do this. With different clients, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just to make an Excel spreadsheet. There are online tools such as Planoloy, or Later where you can do your social media scheduling and save hashtags in there.
It’s also really useful to create categories within that hashtag bank, so for example, for marketing I might have a marketing one, which might be like #Marketing #Marketingfun #Marketingconsultant #Marketingtips #Marketingadvise.
And I might have one that is social media. #Socialmedia #Socialmediastrategy #Instagram #Twitter
Then I might have some that are relevant to where I live, so #Cumbria #CumbriaBusiness #Cumbrianbusinesses #Smallbusiness
If I’m writing one that is specific to me about being a working mum, I might put #Mumpreneur #Workingmum #Mumsrule or something like that. And I would have found them because I’d done my search on my Instagram search and I know how many people are using them.
If you’ve searched and nobody has used them then there’s maybe not much point using them. So find some that are popular, that people are sharing and will get your posts seen.
Tip 3 – How to use hashtags
So, there are different rules on different social media platforms about how to use hashtags.
As I said before, let’s forget about Facebook for using hashtags.
Pinterest, you can use loads of them; they will get your content found, drive traffic to your website which is good if you’ve got a product or a visual graphics, crafty sort of business.
Twitter. However many you can fit in the 280 characters after you’ve written whatever you’ve written. You can use them within your text or at the end of your text.
LinkedIn, I would recommend five to ten, but make sure they’re very relevant to what you are posting as well. Don’t get too spammy
Instagram. Instagram is brilliant for hashtags, and you can use up to thirty. Really try and utilise those thirty.
Ensure that the first five hashtags are really specific and relevant to your post.
Then you want to add in some location hashtags as well, so I might put #Cumbria. I’m in Penrith, so I might put #Penrith or if you’re doing some work in Newcastle #Newcastle. Or even like, say I was sitting in a local venue, like the North Lakes Hotel whilst I’m sharing a post, I would put #NorthLakesHotel #Penrith #Cumbria.
Then you want to add in some industry-specific hashtags. So, for me, it would be #marketing, #social media, #Instagram, #strategy and #planning for example. So, think about what industry you’re in, and you want to create some industry-specific hashtags.
Then you want to have a think about niche hashtags as well. So, some of the niche hashtags I use are specific to my business. I use #marketingfun if I’m doing something interesting and fun that’s exciting. I might use #AcornMarketing #MarketingPenrith. So some that are really niche and specific to my business as well.
So, then if anybody clicks on that, they see all your posts that come up.
The other thing to think about is not adding in too many really popular hashtags. So, if you go into the Instagram search bar again. If I typed in, for example, #Marketing there are 46.5 million posts using that hashtag. So, my little old post is probably not going to be seen.
However, if you type in #MarketingCumbria, there are 345 posts, so it’s more likely that my post would be seen.
So, try not to use too many of those hashtags that have millions of people using them.
Really do your research and have a look at how many people are using those hashtags as well, so then you can get a feel for what millions of people are posting about, as opposed to hundreds of thousands. You want to be in that region or the niche and specific ones.
So by having that broad mix and different type of hashtags within your posts, you are more likely to be seen by people.
I’ve now got people that follow me from all over the world, and I don’t know how they find me. It’s all because of hashtags. So all those people that are following me from America, all those social media strategists, people that are engaging with me that I’ve never heard of before, they’ve probably found me because of my use of hashtags.
So, if you’ve not thought about using hashtags before, use this as a guide to doing a bit of research, create your hashtag bank, start searching for those hashtags, make different categories and make sure you use different hashtags for each time you post as well. Make them relevant and specific to what you are posting about.
Hopefully, now you feel more confident in how to use hashtags!