Using Hashtags in Your Social Media Posts

Think back on all of the interesting conversations that you’ve had over your lifetime and all of the people that you’ve had them with. Now imagine you were able to keep a record of each one of them, by topic, using a filing system — all of your conversations about your passion for photography go in this folder and all of your conversations about your search for the perfect quiche recipe go into this one. Now, imagine that using these folders full of conversation snippets, you were able to connect with other people and their conversations about those same topics that are so interesting to you.

This is how hashtags work.

When you use a hash (#) mark followed by a single line of unseparated alphabet characters, you create what’s known as a hashtag and it’s a way that you know that post will be indexed and appear in a list when someone searches that particular phrase or clicks on it in this or another post featuring it.

The main purpose of hashtags is to help social media users get their posts discovered by topic, regardless of posting times. Additionally, they give you an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals. Here 

  1. Use hashtags that make it easy to reach current and new audiences. Don’t tag differentiated topics without reason.
  2. Keep them simple, with no punctuations or spaces. Make them easy to understand and see how the hashtag is relevant to them and your brand. 
  3. Use hashtags to identify the topic of the conversation and incorporate them into your sentences.
  4. Know why you’re using a hashtag. Your hashtag usage should make sense and be relevant to you and your brand. Research beforehand trending topics and debate whether you can connect your brand in an engaging way.
  5. Follow the Community Guidelines of the platform and use best practices.  

Hashtags are a great way to connect your account with others who share the same or similar interests. It makes sense to use them and the best practice is to use them in a way that seems conversational. Hashtags have been proven to increase engagement, help build brand, and connect with an audience.

How do you find the best hashtags for your posts? Here are four ways:

  • Get niched and be very specific in your hashtag use by honing in on a specific topic so that you can tap into the audience that is passionate about it. Say, for example, your business sells products for babies. Instead of using #parents–resulting in parents of children of all ages–opt for #newmom since that hashtag is specific to mothers of newborns, your target.
  • Check out what influencers are doing. Go through your influencer’s social media posts and take note of the hashtags they’re using frequently. To streamline the process even further, you can use a tool like Hashtagify.me. This tool allows you to search different keywords throughout Twitter and Instagram and see the top influencers for that keyword.  
  • See what’s trending by using RiteTag.com which will give you hashtag suggestions based on real-time data. gives you instant hashtag suggestions based on real-time data whenever you make a social media post.  Brand24 is a social media monitoring tool that collects online mentions of predefined keywords and provides social media analytics. Brand24 analyzes millions of social media mentions to find these containing your keywords. Then, the tool analyzes all of these mentions to find top 100 most popular hashtags on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Use a branded hashtag if you have an engaged following so that you can niche the conversation down even more.

Location matters–it’s a mistake to simply repost the same information between channels without customizing your messaging, including hashtags, and so you’ll want to cater your use of hashtags to the channel where you’re posting:

  • Twitter: Optimal number of hashtags 1-2: Although hashtag use originated on Twitter, that doesn’t mean that they’re used excessively on this channel. Therefore, you’ll want to do your research so that you can use the top hashtags that relate to your post, never more than 4. You can use the search function to find top posts surrounding a hashtag and get involved in latest trends. Make sure that you remain authentic–don’t jump on a trending hashtag just to push your brand
  • Instagram: Optimal number of hashtags 7-9: Be sure that you follow hashtags that relate to topics you talk about and keep the hashtags that you use in a post relevant to the topic rather than stuffing it full of unrelated hashtags in hopes that you’ll get more eyeballs on the post.  Don’t let hashtags take away focus from your post. Hashtags should be a supporting tool concerning your content, not the point of focus. There are two ways to keep your hashtags from cluttering your post. You can put them in the comments section or bury them in the caption after 2-4 lines of space. Hootsuite provides a helpful guide to including hashtags into the caption. Putting hashtags in the comments leaves the caption clean and uncluttered, a format appealing to many users. 
  • Facebook: Optimal number of hashtags 0-1: Because most user profiles are private, hashtags aren’t as widespread on Facebook as they are on Twitter or Instagram and so it’s no necessary to use them on Facebook at all. If you do choose to use them, say for sharing content from a campaign for brand recognition and to gather all associated posts for analytics and reporting, you can easily monitor them by using the URL facebook.com/hashtag/_____. Include the keyword you want to search at the end.
  • LinkedIn: Optimal number of hashtags 2-3:  Hashtags are a very recent addition on LinkedIn—and its usage differs a little from other social platforms. Like Twitter or Instagram, users are able to search and follow for different keywords using the hashtags. That means using them in your posts and articles gives you a greater chance of being discovered by LinkedIn users following that keyword. Since LinkedIn is primarily for a business, though, you’re going to want to keep your hashtags much more straightforward and professional.

Using hashtags will allow you to connect with your target and make an impression on a wide social media audience. Do you have insights that you’d add to the list? We’d love to hear from you! Just head on over to the member forums or connect with us in our private Facebook group!  

 

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