With everchanging trends and constant techy updates, social media is fast on the move. Gaining consistent and effective reach may often feel like a daunting task with unpredictable outcomes. However, there is always one trusty social media hack that you can rely on: the classic hashtag.
What Is A Hashtag?
Often used in bios and captions, a hashtag is a keyword preceded by the hash symbol, ‘#’. Hashtags are useful content markers that essentially direct your post on a hot algorithm to its relevant target audience. In short, hashtags optimise engagement by making your content more findable, meaning more eyes, more taps, and more shares.
What Do The Stats Say?
In fact, according to market data carried out by Zipido, in 2023, Instagram posts with at least one hashtag received 70% more likes than posts that did not contain hashtags.
It was also found that 48.1% of Instagram users heavily rely on branded hashtags in order to discover new products.
However, hashtags aren’t solely limited to Instagram. Hashtags are an integral feature of all social media platforms from the Meta universe of Facebook and X (Twitter), to LinkedIn, TikTok and Pinterest. For instance, the use of one or more hashtags will increase a LinkedIn post’s visibility by an average of 29.59%. Similarly, on X (Twitter), even the use of one hashtag alone can lead to an average 69.7% more retweets.
So, in essence, hashtags are a very important and efficient method to achieving social media success.
Hashtag Do’s And Hashtag Don’ts
In order to boost consumer awareness, it’s important that your post reaches its target audience. So, make sure those hashtags can standout. For example, are you posting a #holiday, a #summerholiday or a #summerstaycation? Keeping it brief and unique means the tag is more likely to gain traction from a likeminded and genuinely interested audience i.e., those fancying a UK summer stay rather than a general holiday.
Research Popular Hashtags
Keep an eye out for popular hashtags and jump on trends whilst they are still hot. In 2023, hashtags such as #myromanempire or #girldinner spread like wildfire accumulating over six billion views between them on TikTok. Whilst making sure they still appropriately reflect your brand, using these topical tags can be a great way to look up-to-date and attract new followers.
Who said you can’t be a trendsetter? With hashtags, there is plenty of room for experimentation. You may wish to create a hashtag that is witty and humorous, that highlights an event, or even begins an interactive campaign such as the #IceBucketChallenge or the #BlindingLights dance off. Similarly, you may want to make a branded hashtag. For instance, if you are a business that people can visit and stay at, you may want to encourage guests to hashtag your brand name. Not only will this help your business grow, but it will also enable potential customers to gain insight into previous customer experiences.
To really optimise hashtag efficiency, it’s important that you measure hashtag performance. Applications such as Sprout Social offer easy to use analytics that can tell you what hashtags to use and which hashtags your viewers have been using to find your content.
The hashtag sweet spot, according to recent research, is to keep to 3-5 hashtags. In fact, too many hashtags can do more harm than good. Over saturating hashtags may mark your post as spam which can result in your account being shadow banned. Shadow banning is when your content has been recognised as spam and so no longer appears on a user’s feed despite not having received an official ban or warning. This is a sneaky form of banning used across all social media platforms to prevent spammers from simply making a new account after their old account has been officially banned.
Being Too Wordy
Whilst hashtags can be more than one word pushed into one, they still need to be readable to be memorable. So, keep your hashtag neat and punchy such as Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke or Nike’s #JustDoIt – used in over 14 million posts in 2023.
Don’t Leave Stories Behind
Hashtags aren’t limited to permanent tweets or posts; they can be used in Instagram and Facebook Stories too. Though they disappear after 24 hours, stories are still a great way to squeeze in that hashtag and gain those extra views where possible.
In all, hashtags are an essential tool for boosting social media engagement. All it takes is a few well selected hashtags and your post can go far and reap the exponential rewards it deserves. Platforms such as Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and X (Twitter) are reliant on hashtags so keeping savvy with tags is a super-efficient way to become viral and become #TrendingNow.