Why Hashtags Are Crucial for Social Media
These days, hashtags are everywhere. On social media; in advertising campaigns; brand names; even custom brand hashtags have become "a thing."
The hashtag began in 2007 when Twitter users used the waffle sign to group topics of interest together, and since that fateful year, hashtags have been implemented across virtually every social media platform - even Pinterest uses them.
The primary use for a hashtag is to start a "conversation;" be it about a topic, relevant news, a timely story, or a brand (huzzah!). But not all uses of hashtags are proper uses of hashtags; those little waffle signs can be a real pain in the butt if you use them incorrectly (or not at all). With social media, however, the use of hashtags is crucial from a digital marketing perspective.
Branded hashtags are key for carving out your brand space on social media
You're probably thinking, "what the heck is a branded hashtag??" but the concept is quite simple; a branded hashtag is a custom hashtag tailored to your brand. For example, a denim brand could use a hashtag such as #brandnamedenim. If the denim brand is called Dope Jeans, then their hashtag could be #dopejeansdenim. The purpose of a branded hashtag is to help audiences target your brand on social media; whether they tag your brand in a photo, mention you in a caption, or use the hashtag to find you, your own branded hashtag gives you a place on social media. Speaking of...
Hashtags help followers (potential customers) find your brand
Given that most hashtags are used for search purposes, brands that utilize specific hashtags that are relevant to their brand or niche allow social media users to find them based on those hashtags. Platforms like Instagram have now made hashtags "followable," as well; this means that users can follow not just accounts, but hashtags, and this increases a brand's likelihood of getting noticed on social media. It works like this: a user can find a topic or brand they're looking for by using a platform's search feature to search different hashtags. Simple, yet oh, so effective.
But you can also use hashtags to find your ideal followers (you know, those potential customers mentioned above?)
Using the right hashtags isn't just something social media followers can use; brands can harness them, too. By utilizing a relevant grouping of hashtags for your brand's niche or industry, you can actually target your content and hashtags to the interests of your ideal follower. In doing so, you not only make your brand more discoverable online but also target your preferred audience. If you're clever enough with your branded hashtag, you may even have people following that hashtag.
Hashtags also help you monitor your brand's online reputation
Due to the nature of social media, it's virtually impossible to control everything being said about your brand, online. You can, however, monitor the conversation surrounding your brand by using hashtags. This is especially true with branded hashtags; you can use a platform's search feature to look up the hashtags you use and monitor what people are saying about your brand, or how they feel about your brand. This is important for the consistent improvement of a brand.
You're probably wondering how you use the right hashtags for your brand
Start with research
Social media platforms have search functions which allow you to look up hashtags. Use this feature to explore which hashtags your competition are using, which hashtags are most relevant for your brand, and the type of hashtags that have the most exposure. This is the easiest way to begin hashtag research!
Look for quality over quantity
Though #instagood and #love are great hashtags, a quick search of these waffles will show you that these hashtags have been used millions of times. While that sounds awesome, highly-used hashtags mean more competition for getting your content seen. Instead, focus on specific hashtags that are relevant to your brand or industry, or hashtags you feel your ideal audience (potential customers) would be looking for/interested in. Often, it's not about how many times a hashtag has been used, but the quality of the hashtag used.
Tailor your hashtags for each individual platform
The hashtags you use on Twitter are used to start a conversation on specific topics; on Instagram, hashtags usually target an interest or description. Just because a hashtag works on Twitter doesn't mean it will work on Facebook, or Pinterest. So, this is where the search function on each individual platform comes in handy! Look for hashtags that are relevant on individual social media platforms. Not all hashtags are one-size-fits-all.
Consider niche hashtags
"Niche" hashtags are essentially hashtags which aren't used on a massive scale but, rather, pertain to a specific interest. Let's say your brand sells camping or hiking gear; as opposed to using a hashtag like #camping (which has over 16 million uses), you could use a hashtag such as #camplife (which has under 1 million uses) or another brand's hashtag, like #campbrandgoods (which has under 50 thousand uses). More often, people now search for niche hashtags to narrow down what they're looking for; but don't be scared to use a hashtag created by another brand. Not every user searches those types of hashtags just to find the brand, but for common interests with other users.
Here are a few of our recommended hashtag dont's
- Don't use overly complicated or lengthy hashtags - most social media users will not take the time to type out long, wordy hashtags
- Don't use the exact same group of hashtags as your competitor - hashtags are meant to be varied, and it's a good idea to avoid using the same ones as your competitor just because they're using them
- Don't use the same old hashtags time and time again - keep 2-3 lists of hashtags (about 20-30 hashtags in each list) that are relevant and "niche;" then, switch up the lists you use for each of your posts to avoid losing out on exposure to new followers or audiences
- Don't use the same amount of hashtags on every platform - Instagram is a great platform for multiple hashtags (it allows up to 30 hashtags per post), but Facebook and Twitter, for example, require far less (perhaps 2-3 hashtags)
- Don't forget about influencer hashtags - Influencers on social media often use specific hashtags which appeal to their audience; using influencer hashtags can help your brand get noticed by these industry leaders as well as their followers. Just ensure that the hashtags and influencers are relevant to your brand's industry
If you have difficulty finding hashtags on social media platforms, online tools like Hashtagify can help you find the right hashtags for your brand or ideal audience. However, social media management is more than just hashtags ;) If you're looking to work with social media pros who know how to harness the power of a hashtag, feel free to chat us up!