Updated: Jul 26
How to use hashtags and understanding why hashtags matter.
Photo credit: Unsplash
What is a Hashtag?
I think it’s safe to say that most people know how to recognize a #hashtag these days. Hashtags are a word or phrase that starts with a pound sign across different social media platforms. But what exactly is the point of hashtags and how do they work?
My favorite way to explain a hashtag – think of a hashtag as a “file folder” to place your post into. For example, if I’m posting a photo of a trip to Hawaii, I’d probably use #aloha in my post. When I click on #aloha, that platform will bring me to the “file folder” of all the rest of the posts out there that have used the same hashtag.
Why do Hashtags matter?
The reason to use hashtags as both a business and a person is simple – Engagement and Exposure.
For example, a small business is trying to gain followers, find other businesses to follow and increase brand awareness. As a small business, I would want to search #smallbusiness or even local hashtags like #utahsmallbusiness. In that “file folder” of hashtags I’d be able to see thousands of small businesses that are connected to that social media platform using the same hashtag.
Once you’re in that file folder, it’s easy to like, engage and comment on different posts with the same interests as you. And what does engaging do for you? It gains you followers and engagements back!
Where do Hashtags work?
Hashtags work across almost all social media platforms including:
From a personal perspective, I seem to get the most traction out of using hashtags on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Hashtag Best Practices
Using hashtags, on the surface, seems easy enough, and you’re right, it is! But there are some best practices and strategic ways to best use hashtags.
· Hashtag Limits – Instagram only allows 30 hashtags per post, so use them wisely!
· Do Your Research – Before using a hashtag, search that hashtag and see how many posts there are within in. For example, perhaps there’s only 12,000 posts for #alohahawaii and 800,000 posts for #aloha, you’d be better off using #aloha for more chances of engagement. Since you only have 30 hashtags on Instagram, it’s important to choose the right ones.
· Think Like a Follower – What would you search for to find your post? Think like a user and create hashtags based on what you would search for to find that post.
· Placement – I try to avoid using hashtags within the content of a post, but instead below the content. Using hashtags within your text can make text messy and hard to read. I still prefer adding the hashtags under the content within the post itself instead of in the first comment for a few reasons:
o Easier to track engagement through the Instagram app.
o Cleaner look and feel to the post.
o In my opinion, it creates more engagement than posting hashtags in the first comment.
· Public Page – Hashtags are only beneficial if your page is public and anyone can follow you.
· Writing a Hashtag – Hashtags should be one word even if includes multiple words and no spaces. For example, #womeninmarketing. If you’re posting about a book.
· Mix Them Up – Algorithms like when you mix up hashtags. Mix up your hashtags each time you post and make the hashtags strategic to what you’re posting. Plus, it keeps your information fresh and exciting.
Most popular Hashtags of 2021
According to www.blog.hootsuite.com - as of June the most popular hashtags of 2021 were:
1. #love (2.1B posts)
2. #instagood (1.3B posts)
3. #fashion (972M posts)
4. #photooftheday (931M posts)
5. #photography (769M posts)
6. #beautiful (749M posts)
7. #instagram (691M posts)
8. #picoftheday (655M posts)
9. #nature (639M posts)
10. #happy (639M posts)
Hashtags are here to stay for the long run, so getting comfortable with using them and, more importantly, using them strategically is so important in growing your digital presence.
Owner/Founder STAK Marketing
Michelle Johnson is the owner, founder and Chief Marketing Guru at STAK Marketing. Our passion at STAK Marketing is to create beautiful STAKs of marketing strategies that help small businesses grow and reach their goals. STAK Marketing's expertise ranges from SEO to branding, e-mail marketing to social media management, PR to advertising and much more - making STAK Marketing a one-stop-shop for all your small business marketing needs .