How to Use Hashtags Effectively: Tools, Tricks and Hot Tips
by Victoria Greene • October 26, 2018
Hashtags have permeated everything—from structuring our daily conversations to supporting national and international movements.
Organizing hashtags like #metoo, #girlcrushMonday, #HowIWillChange, and #LahuKaLagaan are just some of the top hashtags we’ve rallied around in recent years.
But how can you make the most of hashtags for your business? What does a good hashtag on social media look like? Do hashtags on Facebook and LinkedIn mean the same thing?
Here are some tools, tricks, and tips you can use to harness the hashtag and make it work for you.
Hashtags: Social Channel Breakdown
Twitter may have been the original home of the hashtag, but that’s not the case anymore.
Almost every social media platform now makes use of hashtags in some fashion—but they all do it slightly differently…
Here’s a breakdown of the top social channels and how they deal with the #:
Hashtags on Twitter
Hashtags on Twitter are used to index keywords or topics. The most popular ones are listed as ‘trending topics’ on the left side of the feed.
- Twitter recommends no more than two (2) hashtags per tweet, but there’s actually no limit (except the 280 character limit).
- Clicking or tapping a hashtagged word will show other tweets using the same hashtag.
Hashtags on Facebook
Facebook joined the world of the hashtag in 2013—it’s not big on hashtags yet, but they’re getting more and more popular.
- Privacy settings will always take precedence over hashtags, so if you want your hashtag to be seen by everyone, make sure privacy settings on your account are set to public.
- Any hashtags from other platforms you have connected to your Facebook page will be clickable on Facebook too.
- Wondering if a hashtag is already in Facebook world? Type it into Facebook’s search bar, and it will show results for it.
Hashtags on Instagram
Instagram updated its practices this year—make sure your account settings are public if you want people to see hashtagged content.
- You can add hashtags to captions or comments on your post. In fact, some social media marketers suggest commenting below a caption to add hashtags in the first comment is the best way to go.
- You can create hashtag lists and save them under “saved captions.” Caution: if you use the exact same hashtags again and again, Instagram’s algorithm may tag you as spam.
Hashtags on Pinterest
Add relevant hashtags to pin descriptions on Pinterest—but don’t overdo it.
- Searches are arranged chronologically, so the newest pin with the same hashtag shows up first.
- Promoted Pins can give your content more visibility.
Hashtags on LinkedIn
LinkedIn joined the world of hashtags a little later, and hashtags are still a little out of place on this more ‘grown up’ platform.
- Marketing experts say that you should not go hashtag crazy here. LinkedIn users aren’t as accustomed to seeing a plethora of hashtags as other social media users and the platform is not properly set up to deal with hashtags (this will likely change over time, though).
- Using hashtags will give your content more visibility to people outside your LinkedIn network—add a few at a time and keep it relevant.
Tools To Make #s Work for You
Let’s face it, not every business has the time or manpower to brainstorm hashtags designed to boost your products and services. Good news — there are hashtag power tools that can literally do that for you.
- me is a search tool that allows you to see the popularity of a potential hashtag, as well as creating a cloud of related suggestions. The free version lets you search hashtags; the paid subscription adds in additional features such as platform-specific suggestions.
- All Hashtag is a free tool that can do several things: it has a # generator, # analytics, and it also displays charts of the top 100 hashtags.
Tricks to Get Maximum Impact from Your Hashtags
Depending on your product or service, marketplaces are overloaded with businesses vying for attention.
What you need are some tricks to help your message stand out from the crowd:
- Know your platform. According to marketing experts, tweets with two hashtags get the highest engagement, whereas on Instagram posts with 11-plus hashtags are far more successful.
- On platforms like Twitter and Instagram where timing can be everything, don’t be afraid to ask for retweets or provide customers with a direct message link to take a public conversation private. Anything on a hashtag is going to be very visible, so you have to consciously control the conversation.
- Track the popularity of hashtags on different social media platforms. Don’t just stick to hashtags related to your specific brand, but branch out to related topics too.
- Sprout Social and Hootsuite are two social listening tools that can help you manage your hashtags from one central location.
Hot Tips to Use Hashtag Like a Pro
Here are some hashtag pro tips to help you refine your strategy:
- Use local hashtags for businesses that depend on specific communities. For example, a photographer in Greensboro, North Carolina might see how hashtags like #NorthCarolinaphotographer, #NCphotographer, and #Greensborophotographer fare in use and popularity. Or if you’re a retail business in Utah, try stuff like #SaltLakeCity #Utahecommerce — or even better — niche down to #Utahfashionforsale or #craftsinUtah — or get people to rally round community-spirited hashtags like #supportlocalbusinesses #buylocal.
- Looking at the above examples, be careful about making your hashtags so niche that you narrow your customer base too much.
- Know how a hashtag you like is already being used to avoid words and uses that could be offensive or controversial. There have been too many awkward stories about brands jumping on hashtags they really should have left alone…
- Have a video? YouTube’s using hashtags too. Use three in your description and they appear as searchable links right above your video title.
- Use hashtags to solicit questions and answers from your customer and/or fan base. Keep it simple so customers can remember it.
- Tap into popular social community tags, such as #ThrowbackThursday or #MotivationalMonday if they fit in with your brand—but don’t be too ‘try hard’.
Remember, as with most marketing efforts, the key to effective hashing is to be consistent, especially if you’re trying to create or push a hashtag you want people to associate with your product or service.
Using hashtags increases your visibility, so don’t let unfamiliarity make you shy away. Hashtags are part of our culture and are here to stay. They are a tool every business should have in its marketing toolbox—so please add them to yours! #GoForIt