They’re everywhere and we’ve all seen them cropping up in all sorts of unexpected places, but if you’re new to social media and you’re finding your hashtags a bit of a minefield then read on.
What are they?
A hashtag is a way of tagging, or key wording, your posts on your social channels. They help to get your posts, tweets, status updates etc. found by users searching for content on any given subject.
So for example, if I were searching on Twitter for information about the recent Olympics I might search for ‘#Rio2016’ which would return Tweets containing that hashtag.
When and how should you use them?
Whenever you can but proceed with caution:
- Make sure they are relevant to the content you’re sharing. For example, if I'm posting a fun image of a dog that has nothing to do with web design, I wouldn't tag it #webdesign.
- Use your keywords. So for example, I use #webdesign #smallbusiness #website
- Try not to join too many words together. Better #smallbusiness #webdesign than #smallbusinesswebdesign
- Try to use hashtags that are already in use and there is a useful little autocomplete that pops up as you type … unless of course you’re creating your own intentionally. More on this another time.
- Avoid tagging every word and generally over tagging – although it’s more appropriate on some channels than others.
- Humour works and it goes without saying … correct spelling
Where do you use them?
- Twitter: This is where it all started. One or two per Tweet and I would say no more than three. Adding a hashtag at the end of the Tweet will create a link to all other tweets on that topic, so only do this if it’s going to enhance the value of your own Tweet to your audience and is relevant.
- Facebook: Hashtags are not generally associated with Facebook although they are now being used. As a general rule no more than two per post. Research shows that the number of interactions drops as the number of hashtags increases.
- Linked In: Hashtags are not supported by Linked In so they are best avoided.
- Instagram: The hashtags here really should be about describing the picture and use all that are relevant … you can use up to 30. It’s OK to use two that are similar – for example, #webdesign and #websitedesign
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the social channels or all the appropriate usage, so please add your own experiences in the comments below and anything else that may be useful to a small business just starting out with social media.