We all hear about the power of hashtags, and we’re seeing them all over social media. It turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. The best way to think about hashtags is that they’re a grouping mechanism. Let’s say I post a blog, identify a keyword phrase, content marketing, and include a hashtag, #content marketing. Anyone who keys #contentmarketing into a search field is now more likely to pull up my blog. If you understand the purpose of hashtags and learn how to use them, they become a powerful tool that will help you reach and engage your target audience and increase brand awareness.
Using hashtags in your social media posts makes them visible to basically anyone who shares your interest. No longer are your posts limited to just your followers; your content now becomes accessible to all other users who are interested in similar topics. Choosing good hashtags can significantly broaden the reach of your social media posts.
Creating an Effective Hashtag
Hashtags can appear anywhere in your posts: front, middle or end. Positioning isn’t as important as their relevance and judicious application. Users are turned off by a post that’s cluttered with excessive or lengthy hashtags, e.g. #thisLongHashtagIsSoPointless. Brevity is critical on social media so a short, declarative post with a few well-chosen hashtags should be your goal.
Limiting the number of hashtags
In general, keep your hashtags to two-three on Twitter; Instagram’s ideal number of hashtags is five. Use hashtags on Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest. An article about hashtags on Facebook showed that engagement fell off significantly as the number of hashtags grew.
A few other things to keep in mind:
- A hashtag must be written as a single word, without any spaces
- You can include numbers in a hashtag, but punctuation and special characters ($ and %) won’t work
- Search for a hashtag using the search bar at the top of any browser window–it’s a searchable link
- Add context. A message, link, message or call to action
- Stay relevant. Don’t use a trending hashtag to draw users—even though it has nothing to do with your post. It happens.
- If you’re just getting started, use hashtags that directly relate to your brand, product or service until you’re comfortable with their use. Start noticing how others are using hashtags creatively and effectively.