Using Hashtags In Social Media

In recent times, I have been asked about hashtags and their usage and value within social media. Facebook introduced hashtags back in 2013, following their rising use and application on other platforms and look likely to stay around for some time so worthy of familiarising yourself and understanding their value. Knowing how to use a hashtag is fundamental to your success on social media.Hashtags

What’s their value you may ask?  Hashtags on Facebook behave in a similar manner to other social media like Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. You can add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion and then when you click on the hashtag you’ll see a feed of what other people and pages are saying about that topic.  Hashtags don’t work within LinkedIn and therefore have no merit on that platform.

On Pinterest, hashtags are pretty much pointless because Pinterest will search for related items whether you use a tag or not (Pinterest actually recommends against using them).

Hashtags are one of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of social media marketing, particularly when people are just starting out in the social media arena.  They can be a little confusing as they are not words within the sentence or post but more a topic match that helps improve in being discovered in searches.  In order to really maximise the performance of hashtags, you need to conduct some research to develop an understanding of which tags are most relevant to your business and which ones are most likely to connect with people looking for that discussion topic.

Facebook has tried to make hashtags a part of their search and discovery process.

The evolution of Facebook search is particularly relevant when examining how hashtags functionality on the network. When Facebook introduced hashtags, they were looking to open up the platform, to make everything more searchable and connect everyone based on all the data Facebook has on each person. But not all users wanted that. While Twitter is an open network where everything you tweet is added into the entire global conversation, the settings on Facebook can be more private, thus aimed at hosting discussions among your immediate connections and networks.

And that’s a real consideration when looking at hashtag effectiveness on the network.  Personally, I believe it has relevance on Instagram and Facebook only.

How many hashtags should you use?  It depends on what platform of social media you are using, but statistics reveal that those using excessive hashtags (you know, those annoying posts with more than a dozen hashtags that go on and on) tend to have the opposite effect and are deemed useless.  On Facebook, having up to 4 hashtags is acceptable, although some may say just 2 have merit.  Beyond that number, you are just doing yourself a disservice. It is no rule as to how many you can use on Facebook but since the whole idea is searching for engagement, then keep it to a minimum.  Whilst some people have abused this theory and put hashtags on every word #which #makes #it #harder #to #read and thus lowering the engagement.  If you are using a portal to post on multiple platforms, then you may need to consider whether hashtags are appropriate or limit the number.  Instagram will accept and perform with a greater number of hashtags than Facebook. In fact, Instagram will accept up to 30 hashtags but performs better with only about 10 or 12.

It is recommended that you monitor your personal social media accounts for the practical use of hashtags.

When searching on Facebook for specific topics, the results will vary if your search request has a hashtag included or not.  For example:  searching for items about “#cakes” will deliver a different result if you search only for “cake” .  With more than 1.5 billion searches on Facebook every day the results will vary each day.

They can be useful in very specific cases like an event or a promotion, for example, if your event is a marathon, then “#running”  or  “#marathon” or “#FunRun” may be appropriate to find your audience.

Keep it simple – My rule for hashtags on Facebook when sharing someone else’s news, share the article but add your own comments plus at least 3 hashtags being:  #the other company, #industry related and #comment.  For example, if I share an article about the rise of skin cancer then the hashtags might be:  #CancerCouncil #cancer #AvoidTheSun That way your hashtag is relevant to the company and the topic.  It will also enable the post to reach a greater audience than your own list.

Using a hashtag that is long and difficult to spell or pronounce, will probably not give you a good result.

Your hashtag should be short, precise and simple to spell. It should give your audience a clear idea about the topic of the conversation. The key is finding out to what topics your audience can relate.singer-susan-boyle-006

Make it easy to read – If you are using multiple words in your hashtag like this mistake from Susan Boyle for her album launch –  #susanalbumparty then make it easier for people to read and use capital letters like this: #SusanAlbumParty (can you see the difference?).

Trending Hashtags

A trending hashtag is a hashtag topic that has become very popular. Maybe you have heard people are talking about what’s “trending now”. Sometimes, it is referring to the hashtags that are currently popular or are the most talked about right now. Trending hashtags are continuously changing according to the latest trend. Oftentimes, hashtags are centered on the major news topics of the world.

Adding keywords within your hashtags isn’t enough to enhance your online presence. You need to ensure your hashtags are short, conversational and unique.