Hashtags have become a common practice these days; people use them for all sorts of purposes. You find them in text messages, chats, songs and advertisements. But where did it all begin? Turns out a former Google developer and California techie named Chris Messina posted a message in 2007 to solicit advise on using the hashtag symbol, then known as the pound sign, as an idea for groups on social media. He was met with mixed reviews at the time but the trend took off. So much so that in June of 2014, the Oxford English Dictionary added the hashtag to their definitions.
What are hashtags used for?
Hashtags are the card catalogue of social media. The metadata tag system connects your content with other people talking about the same things or looking for information about something. So, if you write an article about using Twitter for Business and use the #TwitterTips hashtag, more people will find your content.
When you’re thinking of hashtags, it’s beneficial to look at your audience and your competitors. Find the keywords and hashtags that are already associated with your brand and boost them. There are many tools to help you find keywords. A simple trick I have learned is to use the search feature in both Twitter and Instagram. Instagram actually provides a number count for how many people are looking for the specific keywords when you plug them in.
Hashtag usage and effectiveness varies by platform. They will enhance your engagement if used properly. Engagement includes clicks, retweets, favorites, and replies.
Let’s take a quick look at each platform and the use of hashtags.
On Facebook hashtags are not as well received as on other platforms. Research has shown they actually lower engagement. So a good rule of thumb is less is more. 1-2 hashtags are best for Facebook. You don’t want to be perceived as a hashtag spammer. You can use the search tool on Facebook in the graph section to see what is trending.
Twitter & Instagram
On these platforms hashtags are readily received and can increase your reach significantly. Tweets with hashtags get two times more engagement than tweets without. Some brands have seen a 50 percent increase with the use of hashtags according to HubSpot, a leading digital trend agency.
Instagram is ground zero for hashtag use. The platform has noted up to 30 hashtags used but 10 or 11 seem to get the highest interaction.
This platform has gone the way of the less used social media portals but is still worth mentioning. Google+ is Google’s social network; hashtags were built right into Google searches. If you type in a hashtag search, you’ll get the normal search results plus a sidebar of relevant Google+ posts.
Brands use Pinterest to showcase products in a visual sense. For tagging you can only place tags in the description section. The tag use helps searcher to find categories of interest.
Rule of thumb: 1 – 3 tags are best over all platforms.
- Twitter: to categorize
- Pinterest: to brand, build like communities and be specific (tags are only clickable in pin descriptions)
- Instagram: to build community, and be unique/detailed. Up to 30 hashtags can be used. For best results stick with 10+
- Google+: to categorize; auto generates tags based on what it thinks your post is most relevant to
- Facebook: sort of a hashtag free zone – if your audience is very business-minded, follow Twitter rules; if it is community-oriented, follow Pinterest/Instagram rules
Check out these resources
Hashtagify.me provides a cross referencing tool for data you can use to analyze hashtags. When you type in a hashtag, you see other hashtags and a display of how popular each hashtag. This also provides a glimpse into what key influencers are using.
This site provides a visual organization of hashtags into colored bars showing quick analysis at-a-glance. This allows you to see what is overused or saturated and what words would be good to boost your posts.
The results pages on Tagboard show hash tagged posts from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.
Twitalyzer helps you audit competitors and can tell you what hashtags they use most frequently. This can be really helpful in finding out how your niche’s influencers tweet.
If you are looking for more twitter followers try this tool. Plug in your interests and industry key words and Tweepi can help identify followers and groups to grow your lists.
- Plug in relevant keywords to your business and the audience you are trying to target. (If you are a local business, use the name of your Geo Address too).
- Keep it simple on most platforms, less is more when it comes to hashtags.
- Put your #hashtag in the end of the #sentence. That makes #reading the sentence #lessannoying.
- If your brand piggybacks on popular hashtags, you could increase your visibility and reach. They are great for tracking events and see what others are posting.
- Try some of the tools noted and see which the best is for you. Some offer free services and others provide price based packages.
Source Information on trends referenced from Hubspot.