One of the biggest areas of confusion in social media seems to centre around how to use hashtags in business social media. It’s a question we get asked when we carry out social media training sessions. In this blog, we’ll look at not only how to use hashtags, but how you can discover the best hashtags for your business, why you should create your own, and everything in between.
Let’s start with the basics:
#What is a Hashtag?
Hashtags are the most popular way of categorising content. If your social media platform is the filing cabinet, then a hashtag is the file containing all the relevant records you are searching for. Above and beyond this, hashtags make your content discoverable, allow you to find relevant content from others and help you connect based on a common interest.
When a user adds a hashtag to their post, the social network indexes the post and it becomes searchable and discoverable, via that hashtag. When someone clicks on that hashtag, they will be taken to an aggregated list of all posts using that hashtag.
So, how should you start using Hashtags for Business?
#Create Your Own Hashtags for Business
Creating a brand hashtag using your business name or tagline is an easy way of monitoring what is being said about you, as well as promoting your brand. By requesting that your audience include your brand hashtag in a post of their own, you have the potential to reach a much wider audience. In addition, use them for a particular marketing campaign to tie your marketing efforts together.
#Go With the Trend
A trending hashtag, usually seen on Twitter, is a hashtag that has become very popular and is the topic of everyone’s conversation. It could relate to something in the news or current affairs. When you come across a trending hashtag that is relevant to your business, use it! You are, “hanging on to the coattails” of that hashtag as it appeals to its far wider audience.
However, the downside of this is that your post may get “lost” amongst thousands or even millions of posts using that same hashtag. Twitter very handily shows you trending hashtags, like this:
As with any other trends, be quick in jumping on them, as they rapidly change and above all, don’t be spammy. Instead, ensure that any hashtags you use are relevant to your business.
These hashtags do not directly relate to your brand but are the “bread and butter” hashtags you can use to categorise your posts. Using content hashtags will help the SEO of your posts.
When choosing hashtags for business use, think like your audience. Choose relevant hashtags that connect both your product and market.
You may also use a location hashtag – useful if you wish to connect with those in close geographical proximity to your business location. For example, if my business was looking to increase brand awareness within my local community, I might create an Instagram story and use the hashtag sticker to show my location. Anyone searching for that location will see a collection of posts and stories containing that hashtag.
There are certain core strategies that you can employ when understanding how to use hashtags. The most common uses would be to:
- Brand your business.
- Catch real-time trends.
- Expand the Reach of your posts.
#Which Platforms Use Hashtags?
Here is a breakdown of where it is appropriate to use hashtags and a guide to how many you should be using on each:
Instagram - You can use a maximum of 30. Use them all. Divide them into rough thirds and employ 10 around the subject of your post, 10 around what you do/offer and the remaining 10 as 1 “mop up”, which could be location or other relevant information. Remember to use hashtags that your target audience would be searching for.
Twitter – Use 2-3. These can be placed at the bottom of your tweet or used in the main body to save characters.
Linkedin – Use 3 maximum. They will be used by the platform to index the post (check your post URL to see this) so any more than this is a waste.
Tik Tok – Use 4-5. Any more will just confuse the algorithm
Pinterest – At the time of writing this blog, Pinterest states that hashtags are not relevant. However, I still add hashtags to my pins, so that, should they reverse this decision, I’m not faced with having to amend all my links!
Facebook – Facebook has reintroduced hashtags and guidelines suggest adopting a similar practice to using them on Instagram. You can use as many hashtags as you wish, but I would suggest using between 3 and 5 per post to stat and then expanding to between 10-15 if you wish. As hashtags are a new “thing” on Facebook, it’s imperative that you test what works best for your reach.
#Which Hashtags to Use
Hashtags are critical to obtaining and increasing post engagement. They allow us to identify the conversations being had by, and areas of interest to, our target audience. When we, as business owners, engage in this conversation and add value, we can start to build a relationship with another person and who knows where that relationship may go?
Tools like hashtagifyme are a free way of researching hashtags as well as their popularity and relevance over recent time. One word of warning, however, ensure you research your hashtags of choice to ensure their context. Some seemingly innocent hashtags have sinister or offensive connotations, so do check other content using that hashtag before you commit to using it.
On Instagram, users are easily able to follow hashtags. Simply enter a search term in the search box at the top of your feed and click the “Follow” button. A selection of content using that hashtag will now appear in your feed.
Not only does this make it easier to curate the sort of content you want to see, but it also makes hashtags for business an even bigger deal. It allows users to mark content they DON’T want to see, by selecting the “Don’t show for this hashtag” option.
So, that’s it. A look at how to use hashtags for business. Hopefully, this article has detailed when, where, and how to use hashtags in your social media posts. The key is to do your research and experiment with hashtags – find the ones that consistently give you the best results, but ensure you vary their use in your posts. Try to avoid generic ones (#likeforlike’ #love etc) and instead go for lower density, more specific choices that suit your business and audience.
If you have found this blog useful, then please leave a comment in the comments section.
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