If you’re a frequent user of social media (and let’s face it, who isn’t these days?), you see hashtags used by everyone from bloggers to politicians to your next door neighbor. Once found solely on Twitter, hashtags are now common across all social media platforms. But what exactly are hashtags and, more importantly, how can you use them as part of your social media management strategy? Read on to learn #AllAboutHashtags

What are Hashtags and How Do They Work?

That little symbol we know as the humble pound sign is also called a “hash mark”. A hashtag is created by typing the hash mark followed by specific words or short phrases. Numbers and capitalization are ok, but no spaces and no punctuation. For example, #HowHashtagsWork. Back in 2009, Twitter users began utilizing these hashtags as a way of grouping related Tweets or topics. Hashtags quickly caught on in the world of social media, and are now common on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. Hashtags allow these social media platforms to create databases of information, based on subject matter. Think of these databases as virtual file cabinets. An effective hashtag identifies your content based on its subject matter, and makes it easy for users to find. When users search for a specific hashtag, all posts with that hashtag are displayed in the search results.

How Hashtags Help Your Business

As a blogger, business owner or social media influencer, the overarching goal of social media management is to make your content more visible to potential followers. Enter the hashtag. When used the right way, hashtags can:

  • Help increase engagement. The more visible your content, the more likely it is to gain shares, comments and likes.
  • Help build your brand. Using a specific hashtag for your business can help it gain notoriety as users begin to associate your hashtag with your brand.
  • Provide context for your social media posts. Most social media platforms value brevity – short and sweet is key. Using an appropriate hashtag can let users know what your post is about without taking up valuable space.

Using Hashtags Effectively

While creating hashtags seems simple enough, using them effectively in social media marketing requires some skill. Here are a few basic tips for making the most of hashtags for your business:

  • Be specific. If you share a recipe for Gluten Free Bread, the hashtag #glutenfreebread is more specific than #bread. Broad, general words or phrases aren’t nearly as effective as specific ones.
  • Keep it simple. Creativity is great, but don’t make your hashtag so unusual or unique that no one will search for it.
  • Know your platform. Social media platforms have varying guidelines when it comes to how many hashtags to use and where to use them.
  • Don’t go overboard. A few well-placed, trending hashtags are preferable to a giant list that will lose your readers’ interest.

Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, Oh my!

Navigating the best practices of various social media platforms can be time consuming and tedious. Here are some general tips for using hashtags on each of these major players.

Pinterest – Ideal number of hashtags – 2-5. Include them in your pin description or when repinning. Use relevant keywords to help users find your pins. Remember our example about #glutenfreebread? If your niche is gluten free recipes, your audience is more likely to search for the specific words “gluten free”, as opposed to simply “bread”.

Facebook – Ideal number of hashtags – 1-2. Include them in any part of your Facebook post or in comments.

Instagram – Ideal number of hashtags – 10-15. Include them after your caption. You can also add them in the comments section immediately following your post.

Having trouble coming up with the right hashtag? Use the search bar on any of these platforms to see what hashtags are trending for your topic. Tools like hashtagify.me and RiteTag can help you find trending hashtags as well.

Hashtags are more popular and powerful than ever. Start using them today and see what a difference they can make in the success of your business.

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