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How to use Hashtags to drive engagement and promote your brand

 


How to use hashtags

The role of hashtags in digital communication has come a long way since the days of being used primarily for creating ringtones on the Nokia 3210 or typing “*#10#” to check your pay-as-you-go balance.

Whether launching a new business, taking an existing brand online, or trying to build your social media profile on a personal level, knowing how to use hashtags effectively is an essential feature of digital marketing and branding in 2020. So, read on for #MarketingSuccess.

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag, typed with the # symbol, is a tool used to identify a topic on social media. The # symbol itself can turn plain text into hyperlinked text. Once a user clicks the text, it will navigate them to a list of social media posts that contain the same # content.

The idea behind the use of hashtags is very simple: it groups social media posts by topics of interest, enabling users to gain more info about the subject in question or interact with other users that are talking about a common interest.

Hashtags can be used to identify a single word (example: #sport) or a phrase (example: #GoSocceroos). Staying with the theme of soccer, people may use #NEWvPER to signify Newcastle Jets versus Perth Glory, highlighting how hashtags can get people to communicate on a topic.

If using a hashtag for a phrase, the phrase or sentence must not use spaces. If you want to say 'Happy Weekend', it must be #HappyWeekend and not #Happy Weekend – the latter example identifies the word 'Happy' without any inclusion of the word 'Weekend'.

Why should I use hashtags?

Hashtags can be a very powerful tool. They have become a central feature of social media lexicon. They are used by individuals and businesses alike on a very frequent basis across multiple channels.

When used effectively, they offer a range of benefits, including but not limited to.

Increased Engagement

Instagram posts that include at least one hashtag are shown to see a 12.6% boost in engagement. However, this climbs significantly higher when hashtags are used well. On Twitter, it is shown that a hashtag can boost engagement by over half!

Audience Growth

Tweets that include a hashtag are 55% more likely to be retweeted, enabling your content to reach an even greater number of users. Meanwhile, people that are interested in the topic are far more likely to follow and stay loyal. The engagement extends far beyond one post.

Brand Building

Plenty of brands use hashtags to create slogans or stand out from the crowd. This encourages people to talk about the company (or individual) and can inspire trust and familiarity. Given that 8 in 10 consumers need to trust a brand before buying, it can actively boost the bottom line.

Monetising Opportunities

The boost in visibility and engagement can also unlock direct monetising opportunities on social media. For example, some YouTube videos can rack up US$5 per 1,000 views. If hashtags can drive traffic to the content, it can bring big rewards.

Ultimately, hashtags can be used to build a bigger audience, inspire trust, interact with communities and join the social conversations of the day. Whether for business or leisure, those outcomes are telling.

Which social media platforms are good for hashtags?

When discussing the concept of hashtags, it's impossible not to mention Twitter. The hashtag revolution started on Twitter in 2007 as digital marketing expert Chris Messina pitched the idea. The first Tweet to use the # symbol was:

First ever Tweet using hashtags, by Chris Messina

Over the years though, hashtags have made their way onto a wide range of platforms, including but not limited to:

  • Facebook;
  • Instagram;
  • LinkedIn;
  • Pinterest;
  • Google Plus;
  • TikTok; and
  • Snapchat.

Essentially, if you’re using any public social media platform, you may want to consider mastering hashtags.

Hot tip: It should be noted that their usage will be futile if your accounts are set to private as nobody other than existing followers will be able to see your posts.

Can I use the same hashtags on all my platforms?

In a word, yes.

However, it's important to note that there are significant differences in how people react to hashtags depending on which platform they use.

Generally speaking, people are more forgiving of multiple hashtags on Instagram and other visual social media platforms than they are on Twitter or LinkedIn. In fact, engagement falls on Twitter once you start overloading on your hashtags.

You should also note that many users will interact with brands and online friends via multiple platforms. While they'll be happy for you to discuss the same topics, reading the exact same hashtags several times can encourage them to hit the 'unfollow' button or keep scrolling past your content.

Besides, the list of popular and trending hashtags will vary from one platform to the next. On Instagram, for example, the most popular hashtags include #selfie, #like4like, and #photooftheday.

On Twitter, the best hashtags include #cryptocurrency, #giveaway, and #vegan.

These contrasts alone should underline why you may want to mix your hashtags depending on the platform, your content and your audience.

Where (in the post) should I place hashtags?

Once again, the contrasts between different platforms should underline the fact that you must use hashtags according to which social media site you are on.

Ultimately, you may find a little trial and error (along with the use of Google analytics and analytics/insights from your social media profiles) is required to identify the best opportunities across the different social media channels. As a rule of thumb though, here’s a little bit of guidance:

Tweet with excellent use of hashtags throughout

  • Facebook & LinkedIn – Within the title of the content, especially if using a sponsored post. The bottom of a post is fine for organic traffic. In the middle of the content looks clumsy.
  • Pinterest & TikTok – You can follow a similar pattern to Instagram with multiple hashtags used. However, they are probably best used at the end of the original post.

Whichever site you are using, it is also worth using branded hashtags within your profiles.

Tips to gain more engagement from your hashtags

Knowing where to place a hashtag – both in terms of the platform and the individual post itself – is vital. However, you also need to think about the content of the hashtag. After all, it doesn't matter where you post a hashtag if it's a word or phrase that nobody is interested in searching for (or if it is a tag that is incredibly broad).

Once again, it may take time to master the process. Nonetheless, the following tips will help you achieve greatness.

Avoid using too many words

Nobody is going to type #WhatAreYouWatchingOnNetflixRightNow. It's better to be straight to the point with #OnNetflixNow. Besides, it creates less room for typos.

Don't tag irrelevant topics

Just because #MondayMotivation is trending, it doesn't mean you should add it to an Instagram photo that has nothing to do with positivity in business or leisure.

Look at the trends

If you're struggling for ideas, get involved in the conversation by checking out the latest trends and hottest topics. You can manufacture content to fit the agenda.

Incentivise people to share

When hoping to spread branded hashtags, using competitions can be a great way to get the hashtag trending. Do not underestimate the power of it, even in a small demographic.

Look for partnerships

Collaborating with popular accounts encourages people to engage with your hashtags as well as your content and profile in general.

Make it memorable 

If hoping to create a branded hashtag, aim for short and memorable hashtags that will not fall into the trap of becoming vague or too broad.

Conclusion

If you are using social media in 2020 and beyond, hashtags can be a powerful tool at your disposal. It's an easy way to piggyback engagement off what people are already discussing and can when used correctly, show the brand identity as well as a professional understanding of the digital marketing arena.

Generally, when writing legal content, the use of # can be difficult to build engagement. But remember, not all law firms should only be sharing their legal content. Don’t forget to humanise your social media content too.


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