September 12, 2019
We know you know what # means. We’re the age that recognises the symbol as a hashtag and not as the number sign. So, instead of insulting your intelligence and extolling its definition, we dive into how to make you, the content creator, more discoverable through them.
How do we do that? By eyeballing how to use hashtags. Correctly.
One caveat before we begin: the post doesn’t talk about how to research the right hashtags. If we include it, we’ll exhaust an ocean of ink. That’s a topic for another day.
How To Use Hashtags On Instagram, Facebook And Twitter For Better Results?
Some say the first hashtag was used more than a decade back by Chris Messina, 2007 to be exact. It was #barcamp. Debating the veracity of this fact is up for grabs, what is undeniably true is that Twitter was hashtag’s birthplace.
Before Instagram and Facebook even accepted the cultural icon, Twitter was already swimming with it. Today, every social media platform (and those who inhabit it) leverages it.
The Question Of Should You
Those who ignore hashtags do so at their peril. Any content creator worth their salt should include at least one hashtag in their posts. Stats show that a well-though-out hashtag enhances the engagement of a post by 12.6%. That’s one massive jump, folks. If you want to get those follower numbers ticking and your community to expand, include a hashtag.
The Question Of How Many
One is the bare minimum, but what is the upper limit? Will a post with 18 #’s get more results or a post with measly 2? Here the pundits get a bit crotchety. Some say that it takes 15 hashtags to work best, and others believe the amount to be 9. Most agree that 11 is the optimal number. From the 12th hashtag, the post’s engagement deteriorates rather than increasing. (More clarification on the number, later on.)
The Question Of How Long
A long-phrase hashtag is more likely to help you connect with the right audience. What do we mean by long? A hashtag that has 21 to 24 characters. For example, #foodlove lowers your chance of discoverability as compared to #ILoveFoodSoMuch. The reasons for it is simple
#foodlove has 6.7M hits on Instagram, while #ILoveFoodSoMuch only 10,139.
Think. Would you rather drown in a feed filled with millions or stand out in a feed of thousands?
The Question Of How To Write
Did you notice that we capitalised each word of the longer hashtag? #usingsmalllettersconfusestheaudience. Digital natives like to skim not read elaborately. #UsingCapitalsMakesItEasier. If you’re worried about case sensitivity, don’t be. A user will still be able to find you, regardless of how they type in the search words, capitalised or otherwise.
The Question Of Which Social Media
As creators, we explore channels. Those who produce pictures tend to Instagram. Those who love words, bend towards Twitter. Those who generate long videos, stick to YouTube. As your poison of choice changes, the right way to practice hashtag varies.
For the love of Twitter
- Keep the number of hashtags 1 to 2. Adding more hashtags reduces engagement. Utilise those 280 characters efficiently.
- The hashtag should connect to the topic of conversation.
- If your aim is a chat, then the hashtag should focus on the group of people you want to include in the conversation.
For the love of Instagram
- The number of hashtags in a post can range from nine to fifteen.
- Keep the hashtag descriptive, as in, they should explain your content.
- Location-based hashtags are great! They turn up your visibility.
- Stories are more engaging and reach a wider audience, add hashtags to them.
- Put a hashtag on the bio section of your page. Preferably one that leads to content you have made.
For the love of Facebook
- Keep the number low. Again, one or two are best.
- If it’s campaign content, use the same hashtag on Facebook as on Twitter or Instagram.
- Don’t put a # in the middle of your #post or #status. Add it at the end.
For all three networking platforms, read their guides. They will further aid you. Here is Twitter’s to get you started.
How To Use A Hashtag As A Brand?
In every 10 hashtags on Instagram, 7 are branded. Why the leitmotif? Branded hashtags increase awareness and trackability. With a single #, all your posts are tagged within one page. It creates an archive, of a sort. One click and your reader can see everything you have published.
As an online influencer, you are a brand in yourself. It is imperative to have a branded hashtag. Create a R.U.M one:
Do note that the hashtag need not necessarily include the name. What it should do is be a true representative of your brand. For instance, Do Your Thing uses two brand hashtags #DoWhatYouLove or #CreateWhatYouLove instead of #DYT.
What Not To Do With Hashtags?
Knowing how to use hashtags on Twitter (or any other digital space) isn’t enough. Being aware of what not to do is critical to the same degree. Ergo:
- Do not add spaces between words. #Do What You Love
- Do not tag someone in the hashtag. Mentions do not work in them. #@dyt_onl
- Punctuations are not allowed. #HellNo!
Hashtags Are Important, Pay Heed
9gag uses them for humour. Social activists use them to fuel movements. Companies use them to drive marketing campaigns.
Eh, who are we kidding, almost every social media handle uses hashtags.
That said, you have to understand that hashtags are merely a passage in the song of social media, not the endnote. So, don’t go using a # solely because it is trending. It dims your authenticity.
Employ them flawlessly, and your audience will grow!