The Importance of Hashtags: Know Where, Why, and How to Use Them

— May 5, 2017

The hashtag is not a new trend on social media anymore. However, if you’re new to the social world hashtags are something to get familiar with. You may think the pound sign (#) is only meant to be used when you check your voicemail, but it actually has a completely different meaning when it comes to social media: meet the hashtag.


Hashtags play a crucial role in developing interest in your social media accounts and are used on a number of social media platforms, most commonly, Twitter and Instagram. Including a hashtag with your posts helps to categorize content for your audience. From a user perspective, hashtags allow people to find posts that are relevant to their interests and interact with other social media users who share those interests by joining the conversation about hashtag XY. From a business perspective, it is your chance to be noticed in such conversation and establish your company as a voice for certain topics. Knowing where, why, and how to hashtag can change your social media game and presence tremendously.


Why should you hashtag?


Hashtags work. They help increase your social media presence as they make your content viewable by anyone who has an interest in your hashtag as it goes beyond just your followers. Hashtags can help you build a brand for your business or yourself by engaging with customers and joining the conversation about what’s trending. If you participate in high-traffic conversation by discovering the biggest trending topics, you are more likely to gain great visibility to your business. The more visibility you get, the more likely you are able to create a larger audience and a larger audience exponentially increases the likelihood of fresh leads for your business.


How to use hashtags on Twitter


Hashtagging on Twitter can have a major impact when it comes to your follower count by using general and non-specific hashtags. If you hashtag general words, like #creative, or events, like #TIFF, that are going on, it is more likely that your tweet will reach beyond your follower list.


Twitter hashtags encourage people to take part in conversations with the same topic and people engage with one another even if they are not following each other. While hashtagging on Twitter can definitely help your social media presence, using long and wordy hashtags, like #bestcoffeeshopintheworld, in a Tweet can damage your presence as hashtags are supposed to make things easier to find and engage with others. In addition to long hashtags, using too many hashtags in one post can also be harming to your social media presence. If your tweet is filled with more hashtags than content, it will come off to your followers as desperate and it certainly dilutes the message you are trying to convey.


How to use hashtags on Instagram


Similar to Twitter, using hashtags on Instagram can help you engage with more than just your followers. Hashtags on Instagram give “audiences an organic way to discover branded content through the topics and forums that interest them.” Engaging with a community is a good way to build a brand and Instagram hashtags allow you to engage with a specific community. Hashtags on Instagram are useful as they help other Insta users discover your profile, which can ultimately increase the likelihood of obtaining more followers.


Contrary to Twitter, using more specific hashtags on Instagram can help build a bigger audience for your business. One tip you can consider when posting on Instagram: look at the hashtags your audience is already using and connect your hashtags with those. If you use general hashtags on your photos, you are more likely to not get many engagements and your photo will not stand out as much as you want or expect.


Why hashtags on Facebook and LinkedIn don’t work


Even though hashtags are useful and drive engagement to your business social media accounts, hashtags don’t always work on every single social media platform. For example, they are not meant to be used on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you continue to hashtag on LinkedIn and wonder why your hashtags are not clickable, it is because LinkedIn does not support hashtags. This completely negates the purpose and functionality of hashtags.


In terms of Facebook, posts without a hashtag perform better than posts that contain a hashtag. Facebook introduced hashtags back in 2013, and since then, research found that including hashtags in your Facebook posts does not pose any substantial benefit. Instead, it actually has a negative effect as it tends to irritate your friends. The fact that hashtags are so unsuccessful on Facebook is partly because Facebook users are not using hashtags when they search.


If hashtags are not something you have included in your social media posts for your personal or business accounts, it is never too late to join the fad. Hashtags are a continuously growing communications tool that can help you grow your social media presence and create more engagement in order to better your business.

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