Using hashtags to develop your social media communication strategy

How to use a hashtag

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Hashtags have become very popular over the last couple of years. But what are these little nuggets of gold, and how should we use them?

Hashtags are words that appear after the # symbol. You can think of them as a keyword that you are attaching to your post. If you just publish a photo or some text, only the people in your immediate network may see it. By adding a hashtag, anyone who is interested in the topic or subject will be able to see your content and then engage in discussion with you.

More about their role:

1. They add context to your post/photo 

You may want to post an opinion about a specific event or a product/service. Using the appropriate # allows readers to understand what you are referring to.

2. They help organise your content- which makes it more relevant

If you are posting content of a local nature, or you want to talk to your potential customer about your line of products, a specific # will allow readers interested to find other content you have posted under the same hashtag.

3. They make it easier to find and browse your content

When you use popular or well known hashtags, it allows your content to be seen by a large audience, anywhere in the world, who is actively interested in the topic you are posting about.

The beauty of a hashtag is that when you click on it, you can see all the posts that mention the subject in real time. It helps you join conversations as they unfold, and monitor what is being said on a particular topic.

Each platform uses them slightly differently:

Hashtags on Instagram

On Instagram, hashtags are used to increase followers and to discover new accounts of subjects that you are interested in. Posts average 6-8 hashtags, but you can use up to 30 per post! The more relevant the hashtag, the greater the exposure your post will get. Some users like being creative and making up their own unique hashtag; but to get the most exposure possible, stick to the most relevant and popular hashtags.

Hashtags on Twitter
Twitter is where hashtags made their original debut. Its a powerful tool to follow conversations, and to take part in trending topics. When you tweet, hashtags are used to define the topic of your post so that anyone reading can easily identify what it relates to. When combined with a hashtag from a trending topic, you instantly get exposure to a very large community of interested users.

Facebook Hashtag

Facebook began supporting hashtags relatively late (2013) so it may not appear to be a popular platform for hashtags; but 1 in 6 posts do use them! It works similar to the previous two platforms: it helps filter content and allows people interested in your post to view it. However: it will only be viewable to everyone if that particular post’s privacy setting is set to ‘public‘: if not, it will only be viewed by your own network, which means its not necessary to use a #!

A few tips

DO:

  • Keep it relevent to your post/topic
  • Include trending hashtags when relevant to your post
  • Engage with new followers, and people who leave comments on your post
  • As a business, always include a branded hashtag: your business name, or product line, so that anyone searching will see everything you have posted related to that content.
  • Make sure your hashtag is easy to spell and use capitalization for readability.
  • Tell your followers the exact # to use to be able to benefit the most

DON’T:

  •  #Dont #use #too #many #hashtags- or spam your message: both turn people off fast.
Remember:
Hashtags are 100% in the public domain: you can’t own them or make them private. Anyone can use any hashtag they want. You can’t control the use of a hashtag, but you can encourage people to use it in particular way, which helps you manage the content a little better.

Share away!

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