The beginners guide to hashtags


Using hashtags on Social Media

A hashtag is a word or phrase that has a hash mark # in front of the keyword or key phrase used. These words are meant to be emphasized within a social network post to show what the topic of the post is. They are used on a variety of different social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Hashtags are a way for social network users to see who else is using the same key phrase on that social network and join into the conversation or to voice their own opinion. Many users already utilise hashtags, but not everyone knows when the best time is to get the most value from a hashtag.

What’s “Trending”?

Trending is when a popular topic becomes big news on a social network, trending topics are often found to be from lots of users posting about the same subject. These create fantastic opportunities for Marketeers to keep up to date in real-time with what’s big on a social network and use that to their advantage. You can find trends within a social network usually in a search or on your homepage when you sign in. Social media platforms have become intelligent in knowing you personally and try to tailor what’s trending to the individual user to improve UX, however, on platforms such as twitter, these trends can be altered via location to see what’s trending worldwide if you wish.

Using Hashtags on Twitter:

Twitter is where the original hashtag began and is widely known for where users regularly use hashtags.

These are a few tips you should take into account when using hashtags on twitter;
– If your account is a public account, anyone who does a search for the same hashtag could potentially see your tweet in the search results of twitter.
– Keeping your account private will mean only users who you are friends with will see your tweets and hashtags.
– Twitter recommends to only use 2 hashtags per tweet as #it #can #seem #super #spammy.

Once your message is posted you can click on the hashtag phrase and this will show you messages from other users who have used this hashtag, it’s an easy way to connect with people talking about the same topic as you.


Creating hashtags on Twitter

Unless you’re a global organisation that has a mammoth following, it’s not an easy process to try and get your own hashtag trending, you will need to be far savvier with your messaging and integrated marketing campaigns.  The other scenario for quick trends that are often non-business related are often off the back of events with recent examples the tragic events in Paris #PrayForParis and MTV music awards with #MTVStars

You may be at the start of a very current topic but in most cases you still need a strong social media following to help get you trending or influential users supporting your message.  Even Chris Messina, an ex-Google employee who started the hashtag had to wait a while for it to catch on! He was given the cold shoulder by the tech community when he suggested it back in 2007, however by 2009 Twitter saw the potential and hyperlinked the hashtags and that’s when it really skyrocketed in popularity.

There can be times when using your own unique hashtag can be rewarding, when done correctly and putting the effort in. Such as, hosting a Twitter chat, promoting a new product, or answering a Q&A. Follow these steps before launching your own hashtag: – Check to see if anyone else is using the hashtag – Make sure the hashtag is clear and easy to understand.  You want to avoid the #Susunalbumparty fail (Yes wash your mouth out….) – Avoid overused hashtags such as just #Q&A, this could mean anything, make it unique and stand out for your own campaign i.e. #Q&ARedAlien

Using Hashtags on Facebook

Although hashtags were introduced to Facebook in 2013, they still have a long way to go in terms of popularity. You’ll probably find that many of your Facebook friends don’t use hashtags in their everyday posts, however, some marketers are embracing the change and using them to their full potential in ‘business pages’ and adverts. The same principle applies when you are using a hashtag within your social posts, once you have created your post, click on the hashtag and you will see what other users have said about the same topic. In fact, we have a recent example on the RAD SEO Facebook page below:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How many hashtags you use within your post is still debatable here although a recent study from Social bakers found that:

“Posts with 1 or 2 hashtags averaged 593 interactions”
“Posts with 3 to 5 hashtags averaged 416 interactions”
“Posts with 6 to 10 hashtags averaged 307 interactions”
“Posts with more than 10 hashtags averaged 188 interactions”


So although hashtags aren’t anywhere as big on Facebook as they are on Twitter, it’s a good idea to experiment with them and see what works for you.

Hashtags on Instagram

Whilst using hashtags on Twitter and Facebook are not essential for every marketer to use all the time, for Instagram they are far more important. Instagram is very popular for hashtags and they are almost expected on images to increase brand visibility, personal exposure, and product promotions.

Using hashtags on Instagram

Once you have picked your chosen photo to upload to Instagram, you will find there is space ready for a caption to be entered. This is where you should apply your caption of the image, along with the relevant hashtags of your image. Take a look at a recent Instagram post from Mashable below:

Within the caption they have included #NYC #FollowerFriday and #Florida, this means that these hashtags are placed within a group of photos used by other users who have used the s1a1me hashtags. This is what you will find once you have clicked on the #NYC tag, with the most popular posts at the top, meaning the most liked and viewed since the recent change in March. As you can see NYC has been used over 48 Million times, meaning it is a highly popular hashtag to use for your pictures. Don’t follow the trap of using the most popular hashtags used just to get seen on Instagram. This is a tactic that was used at the start of Instagram that has now been controlled by Instagrams policy update this year.

Many users of the social network used to use the ‘most popular hashtags used’ from places like Tagsforlikes.com, meaning they would use the maximum hashtags allowed to gain lots of views from other users. Later on they would then create more hashtags and add these into the comment section meaning that the photo would then appear again in different photo albums and at the top of the search results. Since the Instagram update in March, now the only hashtags that you add at that time will be relevant, anything added after that will not boost the image visibility in search results. This long over-due change means that no more spammy hashtags can be used at later dates in the hope to get ‘Instagram famous’.

The key to using hashtags correctly for your business is to pick wisely, use a set of hashtags that your image is related too. Although the limit is 30 it doesn’t necessarily mean more is better, a rule of the thumb is to keep your hashtags to the maximum of 10 but you can often get your message across to a targeted audience with less.


Using hashtags on Google+

Believe it or not, Google+ is still not dead in fact last week we’ve seen a redesign with a focus around interests with an emphasis on Collections and Communities. Marketers have been making the most of Google+ for many years now and still believe it a valuable social network, contrary to many beliefs.


Using hashtags as part of your posts is a valuable way to gain more exposure for your content and your Google+ profile. However using hashtags on Google+ is slightly different from any other social network. As with Instagram and Twitter, once you have posted a hashtag, that hashtag is categorised to that topic. But, with Google+ you could say they explore further into that one topic, for instance:

As you can see from this post, I’ve included the hashtag #SEO to see if It will reach other interested users in the industry. Clicking onto the hashtag will take you to where other Google+ users have included #SEO within their content. However, the left-hand corner box provides other relevant keywords that you may wish to explore further or search a key term to find other connections.  This is a good ay to quickly connect with other similar trending topics.

The Explore tab on the main navigation bar is a great way to see what’s happening on Google+ at that time. This will bring up a section for trending that will show you what users are talking about and whether that topic is going up or down within trends.

Google+ is a perfect network to see what industry leaders and experts are talking about in their field so I would highly recommend checking it out for any advice needed.

Which social network you prefer for your business is your choice, but hashtags are here to stay! (For now) They give any marketer a great advantage within their social media activity and should be part of a daily routine for maximum impact.

Are you using Hashtags? If not, why not?

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