To Hashtag Or Not To Hashtag
The Hashtag (#), has been a staple in our social media feeds for a few years now. The question is as social media users do we use the hashtags or don’t we? On which platforms are they most effective, and maybe more importantly, on which feeds should you leave them out of? As social media continues to evolve, we are seeing more and more changes to how the sites are being used. In addition, we are also seeing changes in how the algorithms keep changing for different platforms. So do those changes impact how we use hashtags? Are hashtags the bulletproof way to being found on social media in 2018?
There is a free tool you can use to see the popularity of the hashtags you are using. The tools is called Hashtagify, and one of the cool things about this tool is you can test your hashtag in real time and see the tags popularity, top influences, and trends regarding the hashtag you are using. We recommend that you do a search of each of the tags you want to utilize in your social media platforms. Make sure that they are actually trending to the content that you are sharing. This tool is a great place to start.
The other option that you should consider is developing a custom hashtag for your brand. Many big names use specific tags for different company campaigns. One example is from Coca-Cola the #ShareACoke campaign. Coca-Cola put names on their bottles and created this brilliant hashtag to go with it. Who would have thought putting a name on a bottle could generate so much social content? The simple hashtag combined with messaging was brilliant by the marketing team. The takeaway lesson is that sometimes simple is better. Short hashtags that identify your brand with purpose.
On Instagram alone, the #ShareACoke hashtag has over 600k images that are all tagged with the companies branded hashtag. I tried to explain to my mother why people use the hashtag like the #ShareACoke, and she said “why do I care if my name is on a bottle?” and continued with “does Coke think that people are really going to buy more Coke because of this? I mean who doesn’t know what a Coke is? Why don’t we just all put a hashtag of #TheSunWillComeOutTomorrow?” I told her “well Mom, Little Orphan Annie has that hashtag covered.”
The key to hashtags are to attract your target audience, obviously, my mother is not part of Coca-Cola’s target audience. While more than half a million people did hit the target that Coke wanted to attract on Instagram alone.
Things to Remember When Using Hashtags:
- DO use hashtags on Instagram.The goal of social media is to gain an audience that is interested in your products or services. The first step to reaching that audience can be using hashtags. More and more people utilize hashtags to grow their audience. The key is to understand the way they work within Instagram. When you go into the search feature of Instagram, you’ll notice you can search by top content, hashtag, people (username) and places. Instagram uses hashtags to categorize content. When deciding to use a hashtag on Instagram it is important to put your post in the right category to gain interest in your potential audience. Random hashtags that do not represent your content are considered what I call spam tags. Don’t be the spammer.
- DO use Hashtags on Twitter. Twitter users search for events, news, and time relevant. Similar to Instagram the hashtag can help sort your content into different categories. Twitter’s algorithm is designed to find topics that are trending in real-time. Thus, using topics of trending topics is probably more effective for your reach than general hashtags have been in the past.
- DO use Hashtags on LinkedIn. Previously I have used hashtags on LinkedIn with caution. Unless it was something very specific or tagged a brand associated with something very specific. That is changing. LinkedIn is hell-bent on becoming the premier social network for professionals. When Microsoft bought the platform they wanted to create a social channel to capture the business audience. Today the LinkedIn database has become enormous. I think the folks at Microsoft realized that they need to do a better job of organizing and filter content. Hashtags are an easy way to do just that.
- DO NOT post Hashtags on Facebook. Research has shown that over the evolution of Facebook that posts that contain hashtags actually do not perform as well as those that don’t. A 2016 report from BuzzSumo, analyzed more than a billion Facebook posts from over 30 million brand Pages, came to the same conclusion – posts without hashtags generated more reach than those with tags added. It is still true in 2018 there are no limit on how many tags you can use on Facebook, people, over time, have abused them, adding them to every word and mention in the hopes of expanding their reach. They failed, and people have stopped searching for hashtags on the platform for the most part.
Be Authentic with your Hashtags
The most important part of any aspect of social media is to of course be SOCIAL. Make sure that you are using hashtags to engage in the conversations that are happening online. Attract the right audience for your brand, and don’t spam people. Create a unique hashtag for your events, campaigns and news. Use location hashtags to engage your local audiences. Be authentic, and don’t rely on hashtags alone to grow your organic audience. You need to be part of the conversation!ARTICLE BY Elizabeth Orley