What’s the point of a hashtag?

I once wrote an ode to the seemingly humble hashtag for someone who was starting on their social media for business journey and had asked what the point of them was… It went something like along the lines of “use them, they are super important. The End”. Hard to believe I once won a poetry competition at school right?! .

Jokes aside, one of the most frequently asked questions I get during any workshop or training session is “what’s the point of using a hashtag ”, which sits right alongside “why can’t I hashtag any words I want to”. Ha. Here, hold my coffee…

What is a hashtag?

So hashtags are searchable and clickable terms, they help you discover products, news stories, teams, local features, people, conversations and your interests… pretty close to just about anything. Which is the quick and easy answer as to why using a hashtag on completely made up words on a business account is only good for humour.

Being a business on social media, I’m going to hazard a guess that you have a fair amount to say and organising content and when to communicate with your audience is a fairly big task. Wasting character counts on #sendusmorebiscuitsplease really isn’t the best idea.

But, what is a good idea is using hashtags strategically to help your business be found on social media, to help your audience identify with your brand, help your brand stand out and encourage your community to identify with your brand and products / services.

How many hashtags do I use on each post?

It’s worth knowing what I call “the sports day ranking” of using hashtags on social media, basically the answer to the “how many hashtags can I use on a post” question; I break it down like this for clients:

1. Instagram (first place, allowed up to 30 hashtags on a post, pretty hard to get that many so feel comfortable to play with some options, it is worth knowing that some of the top Instagram accounts and top users who work for Instagram use 0-5 hashtags maximum in a post… a relevant hashtag is worth way more than 30 benign ones)

2. Twitter (second place, can tolerate a fair amount of hashtags, but your character count will dictate how many you use and it is recommended to stick to 2-4)

3. Facebook (third place, limit your hashtag usage to 1-2 strategic and well thought out hashtags)

Hashtag with purpose.

I mentioned “strategic and well thought out hashtags” there, this forms the basis of any hashtag strategy, so here’s a few things to think about when deciding what hashtags to use on your social media platforms:

Create a hashtag that is unique to your business / team / community, but easy for your audience to adopt and find. As an example I use #BirdandEmmy for work related post and #lifewithSuz for more personal related.

Use hashtags relevant to your industry and geographic location to categorise content and for discovery.

When relevant, use hashtags to join conversations, comment on trends or align yourself with an event or community.

Design hashtags that will be easy or obvious for your audience to use and pick up on their content.

What’s next?

Create a unique hashtag for your business and use it constantly. Think about how this hashtag will help your audience a) find you and b) identify your brand with an industry and area of expertise. The idea is you want to be found easily by these hashtags, so think about adding in an area or something unique to narrow down the search for your audience.

For example, if you search the hashtag #coffee it gives you 104,545,629* post options but search #coffeeaberdeen and it gives you 42* post options.

*numbers correct at the time of writing this blog.

When using instagram think about saving a number of hashtags in your notes that you can quickly and easily copy and paste into a caption, I wouldn’t recommend all of them for each post as you don’t want to fall into spam / too much automation territory, but saving the ones that are most relevant for your business, industry and location will give you a great start when implementing a hashtag strategy and help you be consistent with it.

If all else fails when implementing a hashtag strategy, just remember two things: #sendmorebiscuitsplease isn’t going to help your business on social media and use hashtags, they are important. The End.

P.S a note on hashtag placement in an Instagram post:

Rumour hassit placing the hashtags in the comments section will increase your likelihood of showing up on people’s timelines – it doesn’t.

Rumour hassit the correct hashtag etiquette is using numerous spaces after your caption and then your hashtags. It isn’t.

If I put my hashtags in the comments section, Instagram will think it’s a comment and then place my post higher up in people’s timeline…” – it doesn’t.

Leave a comment

Come and join my Instagram family