Hashtags are an integral part of effective social media marketing, from Facebook to Instagram to Twitter. But how do they work, and, most importantly, how can you make them work for you? If you’re just starting out on your #SMM journey, our social media experts at Little Egg Solutions want to help. We’ve put together this handy guide to finding and using the right hashtags for your business. Let’s start with the #basics.
Hashtags are relatively new in the marketing world, so you may have some questions about these little blue links with a pound sign that seem to be everywhere. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
What are hashtags and how do they work?
Hashtags are short, searchable links that are used to tie together related content from multiple sources. They can include numerals or letters, but generally no spaces, and it doesn’t matter if they are capitalized or not. Hashtags can be anything as long as it fits the character restrictions of the platform you’re using (Twitter has a limit of 140 characters per post, but you can “hashtag” an entire blog post on Tumblr).
Think of them as keyword shortcuts. When users click on the hashtag, they can see every use of that tag in real time to easily find related material. A “trending” hashtag is one that shows up repeatedly across the platform.
What are the different types of hashtags?
For the purposes of social media marketing, there are three kinds of hashtags that matter: industry, local, and branded. Other types, like content-specific (#art, #gardening) and humorous (#TGIF, #whydidyoudothat) can be added for variety and flavor, but those three are the main ones you’ll be using.
Industry tags, like #SMM or #massagetherapy tie your content to the rest of your industry. Be careful, though. These can quickly become overused, and your posts can get lost in a sea of industry-related content. Local tags, like #BoiseRealEstate or #SoCalTechnology can generate local search results, but they may trend less often than industry tags. Branded hashtags are entirely new hashtags created by you specifically for your business. Successful branded hashtags often make use of slogans and other brand recognition tools. They can be a great way to gage response to a new campaign and to encourage engagement.
Why is it important to use the “right” hashtag?
Hashtags are a tool that allows businesses to organize their content and reach the eyes of people already looking for it. However, if you use an ineffective or inaccurate tag, it can be as bad, if not worse, than using no tags at all.
If you use a tag with too little traffic (unless it’s a brand new branded tag), you may not get enough engagement. Too much, and you get lost in the background noise. Too few, and you may not reach your audience; too many and you may turn your audience away. If your tags don’t relate to your content, you may disappoint your followers, and if they don’t relate to your industry, you may confuse potential leads. Using hashtags successfully is about finding a balance; for that, you need a plan.
Here’s our simple formula for finding the best hashtags for your business. Follow the plan, and you can #MakeItCount for every post!
Sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of hashtags you think might work for your business in general, and repeat the process when you write a post. Make sure you come up with a few of each type of hashtag, so you have some go-to options if you’re ever stuck. Remember: they’re like keywords.
Search for trending keywords in your industry with online tools. You can even search specifically for relevant keywords with tools like Hashtagify.Me. It’s also a good idea to look at the hashtags that leaders in your industry are using, and try to incorporate them into your list.
3. Test it Out
Before you add hashtags to your post, search for them on the platform you’re using. If you’re overwhelmed by the results, it’s probably used too often. If nothing comes up, you may need a trendier tag. After you publish your posts, keep track of which hashtags do best and file them away as your “contingency tags” for when you have no relevant, accurate tags. Research how many tags you should use for each platform (it varies) and find a balance that works for your content.
Coming up with creative tags that set you apart while also finding existing tags that tie you to others is hard work. It’s like adding a two-fronted battle to an already full schedule of entrepreneurship and customer service. We get it, and we’re here to take it off your hands. Our social media marketing experts at Little Egg Solutions know how to hashtag #LikeAPro, and we want to help you grow your business. Contact us today to find out how we can #MakeItCount for you!