Hashtags have been present for nearly 15 years, and their use and effectiveness only continues to grow as the digitization of businesses increases. However, with millions of posts daily on social media, it can be hard to stand out. A hashtag connects posts on social media to a specific topic, theme, or conversation and allows a captive audience to discover your content. With this in mind, optimizing your hashtags to improve your reach and engagement is an imperative aspect of your social media strategy that should not be ignored.

How Hashtags Benefit Your Business

Increased engagement is one of many reasons why hashtags are critical for your business to use on social media. The hashtags a business uses often translate to a conversation being had with their followers, which can lead to greater likes, comments, shares, and new followers. Hashtags are also an easy way to contextualize what you’re describing without having to write a repetitive caption. For example, if you’re posting about World Social Media Day, you may write a caption about the importance of social media with the hashtag #WorldSocialMediaDay so that people know why you’re posting about the topic.

Improved brand recognition is also a key benefit of using hashtags on your social media accounts. Hashtags help spread awareness about your business when customers or clients use it, and ultimately, increase your followers by reaching new profiles. Furthermore, they increase your opportunity to be organically discovered by prospective followers and customers.

Best Practices for Each Platform

Regardless of which social media platforms your business uses, it’s important to recognize that how you approach using hashtags differs depending on where you are using them. Approaching each platform uniquely will help further boost your brand’s social media performance. Below are a few simple tips to best optimize your hashtag use on the most popular social media platforms:

Twitter –Due to Twitter’s 280-character limit, it’s best to use one or two hashtags per post at most. Since you’re limiting how many hashtags you’re using, it’s extremely important to do the research to ensure the ones being chosen will have ample reach.

Facebook –Similarly, using one to three hashtags is ideal for Facebook. Hashtags can be used in both the post and in the comments section. However, the reach of hashtags is harder to gauge as some profiles and groups are private.

Instagram – With Instagram you can use hashtags in not only your captions and comments, but also in your profile and in your stories. Research shows that only one hashtag in a profile or story is optimal, and five to ten in a caption or comment. However, you can technically include up to thirty hashtags. While this does not impact the algorithm, it is recommended that when posting that you add the hashtags as the post’s first comment so that followers can focus on the caption content.

LinkedIn –You can add hashtags anywhere in a LinkedIn post with the ideal amount being one to two. LinkedIn also provides hashtag suggestions as you write an update. That said, as a professional platform, it is crucial to ensure you’re using professional and appropriate hashtags in your posts.

Different Types of Hashtags

When building your social media strategy, it’s important to consider the different types of hashtags that can be used within a post. This will help guide the content chosen and provide some inspiration as well. While there are no definitive answers as to which hashtags you should use, oftentimes hashtags fall under four main categories: branded, trending, content or location.

Branded hashtags –Original hashtags specifically about your business to help build brand awareness. This could include hashtags with the company name, a tagline, or be related to a campaign. For example, the chocolate bar company, KitKat, uses their slogan #HaveABreak as a branded hashtag.

Trending hashtags – Utilizing hashtags that are currently topical or popular on a given platform that typically have a large reach. However, it is important to use them in an appropriate context that relates to your brand. Currently, the most trending hashtag on Instagram is #love with over 1.8 billion uses.

Content hashtags – These hashtags are not always highly popular, but correlate to the content of your post to that it is being seen by a niche group. Hashtags can relate to your content, products and services, or could be descriptive of the post itself. If you operate a jewelry business, you may want to use obvious hashtags about your products such as #necklace #bracelet #jewelry.

Location hashtags –Geographically based hashtags could include neighborhoods, cities, countries, or other specific places to help build localized engagement and brand awareness. We are based in Ottawa, so we may opt to use hashtags such as #OttCity #Ottawa #YOW.

Effective Strategies

While creating a hashtag is as simple as adding a pound symbol in front of a word, choosing a hashtag that will yield positive results for your business requires more effort and strategy than just that. You want to ensure your hashtags are reaching your target audience, relate to your brand, and are conveying the correct message.

Below are effective strategies to help find the best hashtags for your business:

    • Do a competitive analysis of the hashtags being used by similar businesses to yours.
    • Download a hashtag suggestion tool to help research popular yet relevant hashtags.
    • Find related hashtags by searching using the explore tab or search bar on the social media platform.
    • When creating new hashtags, keep the length short and be clear, especially with spelling, so that it is easy to remember.
    • Use hashtags consistently, but don’t use too many in a single post.
    • Give people a reason to use your hashtags whether it’s just sharing their post or offering a contest.

Analyze which hashtags were successful on past posts.

If your business is in need of additional guidance when it comes to effectively marketing on social media platforms, feel free to contact one of our experts at LRO Solutions today.

Alita Fabiano

Author Alita Fabiano

Specializing in strategic communications, content marketing, SEO, and digital accessibility, Alita Fabiano has a passion for creating and managing digital content to help organizations thrive. Alita’s insights have also been published in the Ottawa Business Journal and Canadian SME Magazine, as well as she has been invited to speak to several organizations about inclusivity and accessibility.

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