Hashtags are such a prominent part of culture today that it’s rare to find anyone who doesn’t know what they are. In fact, the hashtag is so recognized that it was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2010, and the Scrabble Dictionary in 2014 (#official). Yet even as most people have come to know what they are, many people still don’t understand how to use hashtags.
Hashtags, once your phone’s pound sign, now have a place on most popular social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. The hashtag is likely the most popular means of categorising content on social media. It makes your own content discoverable and allows you to find relevant content from other people and businesses. The hashtag also allows you to connect with and engage other social media users based on a common theme or interest.
Knowing how to use hashtags is fundamental to your success on social media. Here are a few best practices to help you achieve that success. Let’s begin with the do’s.
Be Specific When Using Hashtags
Try and hone in on a passionate community that shares an interest in one specific theme. The more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be—and a targeted audience generally means better engagement. If you don’t have your own business hashtag, find one or two existing ones that really fit the photo.
Say, for example, your business sells baby products. Instead of using #parents—resulting in parents of children of all ages—opt for #newmom. The hashtag #newmom is specific to mothers of newborns—your target customer.
Cater Hashtags To The Social Network You’re Using
While hashtags on all social networks have the same fundamental purpose of content tagging and discovery, the use of hashtags still varies by network.
Hashtags on the photo- and video-sharing platform are often more focused on description of the content. This is at odds with Twitter, where hashtags tend to be more focused a topic of conversation, or a group of people (a chat for example) that you would like to engage.
Before using hashtags, do research on the proper way to use them for that particular network. Most networks will have guides for hashtag selection and use. Also take the time to discover the most popular and most relevant hashtags on a specific subject for each network. This extra time you invest will pay off in engagement down the road.
Come Up With Relevant, Unbranded Hashtags
Brand hashtags don’t have to mention your brand name, but should represent your brand and what you stand for. Destination British Columbia created the hashtag #exploreBC. The tourism company uses it to share scenic photos of the Canadian province taken by their employees and the community.
Seeing photos from regular people on the official Destination British Columbia account quickly prompted more of their followers to embrace the hashtag and share their own photos. As such, the company has created a growing movement that supplies them with fantastic, follower-generated content to use on their social accounts.
Brand hashtags are also great for user-generated content campaigns and contests. Lay’s Potato Chips used them for their “Do Us A Flavour” contest, which encourage people to pitch their best potato chip flavour ideas. With the goal to engage users and collect ideas, Lay’s launched a brand hashtag campaign using #DoUsAFlavour.
Not only does a brand hashtag drive participation and engagement, it will also organize all the posts that are tagged with it on a hashtag page. This is helpful if you’re using the hashtag to collect entries for a promotion or contest, as Lay’s was with the #DoUsAFlavor campaign.
Make sure you check out our page tomorrow for the don’ts of using hashtags.