When I first began using the hashtag symbol, it was either to signify a number on a list, or in place of an incriminating letter when typing an expletive… But now that little # symbol means so much more. Apart from becoming a particularly annoying part of millennial speech (‘hashtag’, weird!), it has opened up a world of possibilities on social media. So, let’s have a look at the rise of the hashtag and what it can be used for.
What Is a Hashtag?
Technically, a hashtag is the pound (#) symbol you see on phones and keyboards. But what it really is, is a nifty way to categorise content on social media. You use it like this: #example (The pound symbol followed directly by a word or words with NO spaces)
Quick tip: You can hashtag emoji, but you can’t hashtag or include symbols like $, !, ?, or %
You can use hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest. Not only does it make your content easy to discover by people who are looking for things in your niche, but also it makes it easier to find the relevant people, businesses and material on social media that you are looking for.
The humble hashtag has created an innovative way for you to connect with people and businesses based on common themes, trends, social media movements, and real-world events. (Think #tokyoolympics2020 etc.)
The Dos and Don’ts of Hashtags
Do Be Specific
People are extremely passionate about certain themes or topics; try to tap into that with your hashtags. Focus on a specific topic so that your content can be more targeted. When you are able to tap into a niche market you are more likely to get good engagement.
Do Be Informed
It pays to do some research into how hashtags are used across the different social media platforms. While hashtags began as a Twitter-specific thing, they have evolved. Know if you should be ‘hashtagging’ a theme, the content of your image, or a specific topic. It varies across the different platforms. You want to get it right so that you maximise your engagement possibilities.
Do Be Relevant
Your brand hashtags do not need to have your brand name in them, ut should describe what you do. For example, we use the following tags in our business.
#VAnz #virtualoffice #outsource #virtualassistantsNZ #OutsourcingVA
These terms have been carefully selected, as that is what people hunt for when they are searching for the services of a Virtual Assistant in New Zealand. It tells them who we are, and by using outsourcing in the terms, it lets them know what we specialise in.
It is unlikely that a potential customer will specifically type in your business name, but they will search relevant terms in your field. If you can lock onto those you will increase your chances of being found.
Don’t Make Them Too Long
If you make your individual hashtags too long or too complicated then no one will use or search them. You will get all kinds of unwanted variations due to spelling mistakes and people shortening them. Therefore, the hashtag will lose its effectiveness.
Hashtags are supposed to make things easier to search for. Overly long or complicated hashtags are not easy, so they won’t ever get searched.
Don’t Have More Hashtags Than Words
Spam alert! The idea of a hashtag is to allow you to target your content towards a specific group. Not only does a massive list of hashtags look spammy, but also it ends up casting your net too wide. You want your content to be targeted to your ideal client, but if you use every hashtag you can think of, you might not necessarily be attracting that ideal client to your material.
Don’t Hashtag #Every #Single #Thing
You want your content to be seen as valuable and worth searching for. So, if you are posting something that isn’t really hashtag-worthy then leave them off. If the content is not going to contribute to the conversation on a specific topic, then don’t hashtag it. People will simply scroll right past if you do, in fact, it can detract them from wanting to look at your more relevant material.
Don’t Only Worry About Popularity
Yes using a really popular hashtag has the opportunity to expose your content to a wider market, but it is also a market that is a lot more crowded and noisy. Use some popular hashtags, but also use some less popular ones that people use when they are hunting for something specific.
The less popular hashtags might be searched less frequently, but when someone does search it, you are more likely to get your material in front of the right kind of person for your brand.
When used correctly, hashtags can extend your content reach to a wider social media audience and help increase your reputation as an expert in your field. Just make sure you are using the appropriate hashtags for your industry and only tag content that is going to add value. #happyhashtagging