Most people who use social media platforms are well aware of the term ‘hashtag’. But do they understand the power of hashtags, and how they can be used to the best advantage?
If we look solely at the use of hashtags, they were made to categorise content into a grouping that best suits them. When hashtags are used incorrectly, this means users have to scroll through miscategorised or irrelevant content in order to find what they are looking for, which can impact on user experience. You don’t want to be that hash-tagger!
So, what exactly are hashtags?
Hashtag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used on social media to identify a keyword or message of a specific topic.
The best way to describe it is as a form of indexing content over social networks, allowing them to be searchable by other users. For example, we could hashtag a picture of our office as #Appscore on a social page, and when a user clicks on that hashtag they will be taken to a page that collects every post with that same hashtag. If the hashtag picks up momentum, it could become a trending tag.
It’s as simple as adding the # symbol before a single word or phrase, ensuring that there are no spaces or punctuation used. You are also able to use numbers within hashtags. It seems easy enough, but there are a few rules that you should keep in mind to ensure that you are using hashtags correctly.
- When using hashtags for their intended purpose (which is categorisation and discovery), do not bundle too many words together in a single hashtag phrasing. For instance, #youdontwantahastagtolooklikethis. Try to keep hashtags #shortandsweet.
- On platforms where you have a public account, hashtags that are used will be visible publicly. This means that anyone who searches for that hashtag will be able to view your post.
- Another rule that you should abide by is to avoid using too many hashtags. Do not hashtag every single word within a post; instead, select the main few that you want to target and hashtag those.
- The most important thing to remember is to use hashtags that are only relevant to the content. It won’t do you any favours to use hashtags that aren’t relevant to the topic that you are targeting, and will make you look unprofessional and unclear.
Hashtag for Each Specific Social Platform
Although hashtags generally carry out the same function across social media platforms, the way in which users implement hashtags across different platforms varies. Here’s how:
Twitter: Twitter is the infamous platform where hashtags were first used. Herein, hashtags are generally used to find conversations that you are looking to comment on or get involved with publicly. Research also suggests that Tweets with one hashtag tend to have far more engagement than those with multiple. In fact, those with more than two hashtags experience a significant drop in user engagement.
Instagram: When it comes to Instagram, hashtags are used to categorise and group all pictures of the same hashtag into one easily-accessible stream. The purpose of an Instagram hashtag is twofold: to discover content, and to discover other users who engage with that particular topic. It is almost vital for a picture to contain a hashtag in order to be seen by a wide audience and reach optimal engagement levels. More than that, the platform groups similar hashtags together so that when you follow one, you will be suggested more of the same topic. Instagram limits hashtags to 30 per caption or comment, but it’s been suggested that 11 is the optimal number.
Facebook: It is common for users to keep their Facebook profiles private, which means that a good number of hashtags used here are not discoverable by the public. The ones that are belong to brands or influencers.
LinkedIn: One of the latecomers to the hash-tagging game, LinkedIn hashtags only work on mobile devices and are looking towards expansion. This may be because the platform is designed more for professionals only, and isn’t generally used the same way that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are.
YouTube: Hashtags are predominantly used within the comment section of videos, which click through to a list of videos that have used the same hashtag in the title of their videos. It is important to use a strategy when it comes to employing hashtags in this environment.
Through the correct use of hashtags according to the platform, you can have your content seen by a wider audience and gain higher-quality viewers. Hashtags are vital towards gaining the recognition of your posts and aligning you with a specific topic or trend. Make sure that you are using hashtags properly to reach maximum post #success.