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How and why to Use Hashtags
I'm going to be super honest here and tell you I used to thing hashtags were kind of stupid and annoying. Come on, admit it, you've seen posts on Facebook followed with ten thousand hashtags and it made you want to scroll right on by (and you probably thought a few other choice thoughts as well…) but guess what, used correctly hashtags can be your best friends when it comes to marketing your business. Think of hashtags (#) as a way to put your post into a category so that it is searchable. It’s kind of like a good old fashioned filing system – you know where you take your papers and file them in the filing cabinet in a hanging file, and the hashtag is the word (or words) written across the tab of the folder. When you use a hashtag, everyone who wants information on that topic can access what’s in the folder, and yours will show up right alongside of the rest of the worlds’ posts on that subject.
As an example, let's say I want to find pictures or a recipes that have mushrooms in them. I would search for “#mushrooms” on Instagram or Facebook in the search bar and a full list of recent posts that used that Hashtag would appear right there in front of you! If I wanted to see what the public had recently posted about the Direct Sales industry, I could do a search for “#DirectSales” or you could use the name of the company you are with #yourcompany.
So with that in mind, if I want people to see my latest picture that I posted of mushrooms, then I would use “#mushrooms” so my post shows up when someone else is seeking out pictures or recipes with mushrooms in it.
Some people will regularly watch specific keywords used as Hashtags in order to connect with people of similar interest, and in order to stay updated with the latest posts about a topic that interests them.
You want to keep your Hashtags general, so they can target what people are actually searching for. For example, typically, I wouldn’t want to use Hashtags like “#Tammyisawesome” because NO ONE will be searching for that (well except maybe for me or a few other awesome Tammys').
The only time you would want to use Hashtags that are very unique and specific like the above example would be if YOU would then like to go in and see how your Hashtag is trending, and see who’s sharing it. Let’s say I am running a contest and I ask those who want to enter to use a Hashtag so I can then go in and see who has shared it. I would choose something very specific, like #JamsandSconesContest. That way, when I go back and search “#JamsandSconesContest”, the results will show everyone who shared my contest post and wanted to enter to win.
It is perfectly okay to brand yourself and use your own specific hashtag that way if someone sees one of your posts and wants to search you out and see what else you've posted they can do that. For example, I like to use the hashtag #jamsandscones as a watermark on my social media posts so that if someone wants to checkout more of what I've done they can easily find me. I also have a feature account on Instagram called Jams and Coffee and I ask followers to use the hashtag #jamsandcoffee if they'd like to be featured in my feed.
A few Hashtag usage tips
- On Twitter, use only 2-3 Hashtags per Tweet, more than that will drive your results down.
- Instagram allows up to 30 Hashtags on a post. While that may seem excessive, Instagram loves Hashtags, and you can never have too many on there. In fact, posts with at least 11-12 get the best results. A lot of Instagrammers place their hashtags in the first comment under their post to avoid your caption looking messy or too long – this is also a great idea if you are going to share your post automatically to other platforms like Facebook – if you have more than 2 hashtags on Facebook it drops your engagement.
- Hashtags aren't as frequently searched on Facebook as they are on Twitter or Instagram, but using 1 or 2 shouldn’t hurt you too much. The purpose of hashtags on FB is to put your post into a specific category or trend (where on Instagram or Twitter it's to find posts similar to your own or one you are searching for).
- Using Hashtags on Pinterest is not really necessary, as they have a great Search feature already set up that you can type keywords into but they are starting to pop up a bit more but keep them to a minimum on this platform.
- There are tools you can use to see what Hashtags are most popular to your topic. You can use Hashtagify for Twitter Hashtags, and Websta for popular Instagram Hashtags, there are phone based apps such as Grama or Tagomatic.
By using Hashtags that are appropriate to the audience you’d like to reach, you can connect with new people and hopefully turn them into new fans for your business!