Hashtags have existed for a long time now, and even though Instagram relies on the use of hashtags to gain maximum reach on posts, many people still don’t utilise hashtags in the right way, and some even avoid using them altogether.
We often get asked about hashtags, how (and why) they benefit social media posts, and how to use them properly in order to gain maximum exposure and visibility. In this blog we go through each social media platform and explain the best ways to use hashtags, so your social media posts get more attention than ever before!
So, when did the hashtag symbol start getting used on social media?
Back in 2007 roughly, and only when it started getting used on Social Media was it called a hashtag. Before this, the symbol was known as an ‘octothorpe’ (and this is it’s official name according to dictionary.com). The hashtag (or Octothorpe) was used way, way before social media – right back around the 14th century to be precise.
The hashtag came from the Latin abbreviation for ‘pound’ and the US adopted it as the ‘pound’ sign for a while.
Fast forward back to 2007, and the hashtag’s use to group or find posts about a common topic or discussion began and it was suggested that people used hashtags to create groups on Twitter, for example;
“Anyone else watching #xfactor tonight?”
The use of the hashtag on the popular TV programme X Factor meant anyone including the hashtag #xfactor in their post would be grouped with others that are also using the same hashtag, and by clicking or tapping on the hashtag it would display a list of all the tweets that included #xfactor somewhere within the post.
Over the years, hashtags have gained momentum and are now a solid social media staple.
So now we know the history of a hashtag and how they were born into the world of social media, we look at each social media platform and how to use hashtags on each of them.
Using hashtags on Facebook
When using hashtags on Facebook, you can generate more exposure and reach, but, you must use them in the right way.
1. Don’t overload your posts with hashtags
Including #too #many #hashtags #in #your #posts is not only annoying, but it can make your business look unprofessional and spammy. Instead, think carefully about the best 2-3 hashtags (at the very most) to include in your post for best engagement.
2. Make sure your Facebook posts are public
Double-check your settings and ensure that everyone can see your posts, otherwise the visibility of posts will be restricted to only those who follow you. When you make a Facebook post public, everyone will be able to see the post if they search for a hashtag that you have included in a post.
Using hashtags on Twitter
Tweets with hashtags can generate much greater levels of engagement and visibility than tweets without any hashtags, however there are rules about the usage of hashtags on Twitter and in Twitter Ads too.
1. Adding 1-2 hashtags on a Tweet can generate around 21% more engagement than tweets with many hashtags.
The key thing to remember here is not to go over the top with hashtags (just like Facebook). 1-2 well considered tweets will see to it that you get good exposure and reach.
2. If you include hashtags in your Tweet it’ll help to generate more retweets
Additionally, you can ask people to ‘please retweet’ (not ‘please RT’ or just ‘RT’ at the end) – you need to be explicit in your request to ask others to retweet you. Requesting a retweet in the right way will help get you ever more engagement.
3. What about Twitter Ads?
You can use hashtags on Twitter Ads but be careful with how many are used. Again, less is more.
4. Research trending hashtags to get even more impact
But go easy – don’t try and hijack a trending tweet with irrelevant content – if you are going to include a trending hashtag in your post, make sure it is relevant to the hashtag. A good tool to research trending hashtags is twitonomy.com.
Using hashtags on Instagram
Instagram’s approach to hashtags is completely different to Twitter and Facebook – in fact poles apart. Where on Twitter and Facebook you must go sparingly on the hashtag front, Instagram is full-on hashtag heaven (for those who like a hashtag or two!).
1. ALWAYS use hashtags on Instagram
The more the better, but, make sure they are relevant and it’ll get you around 12.6% more engagement on average, so it is worth spending the time to include hashtags as it will increase the reach/visibility of your posts.
2. Using lots of hashtags is okay for Instagram
Posts that include 10+ hashtags generate the highest levels of engagement, so aim for this number. There is no right and wrong to the number of hashtags you add to each Instagram post, but we feel the sweet spot is around 15 hashtags.
3. The maximum number of hashtags is 30 per post
You don’t have to add the maximum number of hashtags allowed to every post you publish to Instagram. Research your hashtags carefully and only use ones that are directly relevant to your post and don’t focus too much on trying to load up your posts with as many hashtags as possible.
Using hashtags on LinkedIn
LinkedIn hasn’t always supported the use of hashtags in posts but you can now use them in the same ways that you would use them on other social media platforms.
People can search for hashtags on LinkedIn and LinkedIn uses hashtags as a monitoring tool to discover what’s important to users so it can serve relevant content.
1. Include hashtags on your business profile
Including hashtags on your business profile will give you more visibility across LinkedIn.
2. Use hashtags in LinkedIn Publisher posts
If you include hashtags in your articles and other content on LinkedIn, include relevant hashtags within your article to help LinkedIn to categorise your content and show it to relevant users.
3. There is no right or wrong to using hashtags on LinkedIn
Hashtags are still a relatively new (returning) feature to LinkedIn and because of this, there isn’t extensive analysis into the optimum number of hashtags to use on posts, however we would err on the side of caution and limit it to 3-4 hashtags on each of your posts; any more than this and it could make you look spammy.
Extra hints and tips for using hashtags
Remember to research!
So many people tend to rush through the task of hash-tagging with little or no thought to the potential exposure and reach a post could generate when using the right hashtags, so take some time to thoroughly research hashtags first before deciding upon the right (and wrong) ones to use.
Monitor your competitors
Find out what they are writing about (in general) and most of all, what hashtags they use on their posts. Could your business benefit from using similar/the same hashtags? Do their posts get good exposure? How about their content – is yours as good as theirs?
What do others do well?
If you find others within your industry or sector that do a good job of hash-tagging and get good engagement on their posts/content, then try to follow their approach, but don’t copy them. Work towards building your own hashtag strategy at the same time as well – find out what hashtags do and don’t work for your business and keep a note of the best ones for future use.
To help you with finding the right hashtags to use, we recommend the following tools:
Ritetag – great for finding hashtags with high engagement rates.
Twitonomy – monitors Twitter hashtag analytics for you.
Hashtagify – helps you find trending Twitter hashtags.
Final thoughts and summary
With a little time and effort, you can achieve hashtag greatness when posting content to social media. With anything research is always key, and with a little time and effort, you can pinpoint the hashtags that are right for both your business and the content of your post.
If you need some help and advice with your social media marketing strategy, or perhaps you would like us to manage your social media for you then why not get in touch for a chat with us. You can find out more here too.