Hashtag n. (a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications to identify messages on a specific topic.)
After it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014, the humble hashtag has become one of the most important but overlooked tools in social media marketing. With over 70% of content searches across social media now including hashtags, it’s not hard to see why they have become one of the most popular techniques to help make content discoverable, drive brand recognition and boost the reach of advertising campaigns.
The idea for this blog actually came to mind last week, when Amazon’s ‘The Grand Tour’ was trending on Twitter with #amazonshittvshow, proving to be one of the best bits of advertising I’ve seen in a while. It also lends itself as a great example of how in the wrong hands, hashtags can backfire horribly (or hilariously).
So, how exactly should we go about it? If you’re new to the world of social media, or just want to raise your hashtag game, here are some simple tips to get you going.
- Be specific.
Generally speaking, a more targeted audience means better engagement. For example, rather than targeting #parents on a post about caring for new-borns, aiming it at #newmums will have much higher engagement rate.
- Cater hashtags to the social platform being used.
On Twitter, hashtags tend to center around a specific topic of conversation, whereas on Instagram, the hashtags mostly focus on description of the content. Due to the format of Facebook and LinkedIn, posts without hashtags are actually more popular and tend to get better reactions.
- Create hashtags that represent your brand.
This works particularly well for campaigns and initiatives, as they drive participation and engagement. For example, in 2013, Coca Cola launched the #ShareACoke campaign to promote the production of personalised bottles, which became one of their most successful campaigns ever.
- Keep it short.
A simple and snappy hashtag that is easy to remember will get your point across. #EasyPeasy isn’t it!
Although Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, bombarding the user with so many hashtags can (and probably will) spur them to scroll on, ignoring your post completely, as well as cheapening your brand and lessening the impact of useful hashtags.
- Hashtag every word.
Following on from the last point, the idea of a hashtag is to drive engagement with a post and help increase brand recognition. So #Hashtagging #Every #Word #In #A #Sentence #Will #Have #The #Opposite #Effect. Especially if reading out loud…
- Use spaces
A general rule of thumb is to keep hashtags as one word and separate them using #CapitalLetters, otherwise you run the risk of only tagging the first word. ‘#Capital Letters’ may bring up a very different search.
- Expect hashtags to do all the work.
While a good hashtag can be key to getting your posts extra views and engagement, they are only there to direct an audience to your post. After you’ve drawn the readers in, the actual content you’re putting out there needs to be relevant and interesting, otherwise it will just get lost amongst the other relevant search results.
Remember, while hashtags can be tricky to get right, there are no set rules. By implementing these simple tips and tricks, and experimenting with different hashtags, you might just stumble on a #winner!