It’s time for a hashtag masterclass
6 September 2017
Ten years on from their first use, we are now all used to seeing hashtags used all over different social media platforms, with them having even made their way into daily dialogue for many people.
They’ve become such a part of regular life that in 2010 the word ‘hashtag’ was added to the Oxford Dictionary and (perhaps more importantly), even made it into the Scrabble Dictionary in 2014. But despite this, a large amount of people still don’t understand their purpose or how to use them. This includes business accounts as well, who miss out on reaching a much wider audience through commonly-made mistakes and miss-use.
To put it simply, hashtags are a way of categorising content. They allow you to find similar posts from other users that may not be part of your usual network. Through hashtags you can connect and engage with other users with similar interests. From a business perspective, you can use them to find potential new customers and prospects who are interested in your areas / field of expertise.
Getting a bit too hashtag-happy
We’ve all seen the posts that have more hashtags than we can even bring ourselves to read.
#happy #picture #postingahappypicture #happypicture #happypictureonline #lookatmypicture #happyhappyhappy.
Do not do this. For one, most of those hashtags would not place your post in any significant category, but secondly it will dilute the message in your post and make you look like you don’t really know what you are doing so are just trying to reach everyone to get as many likes as possible (in other words – you’ll look desperate). Ever heard the phrase ‘less is more’? How about ‘quality over quantity’ – both apply here. Just focus on being specific to your topic.
Each platform has it’s own slightly different way of doing things. For example, with Instagram, the hashtags tend to focus on describing the content of the picture posted, whereas with Twitter, the hashtags tend to relate to the topic of conversation.
We searched for the most common hashtags starting with the word ‘travel’ on both Instagram and Twitter; Instagram’s top search was #travelblogger, whereas Twitter’s was #traveladvisory.
Photo Source: Instagram
Do some research beforehand; try searching for similar posts to what you are about to put out and see which words and phrases they have used. Try to have a ‘three maximum’ rule.
Trying to be too clever
Don’t over-complicate things. Remember that you want something that someone will either naturally be searching for or that they can easily and simply use without feeling it is too long. With Twitter especially, remember that users are limited to the amount of characters they can use so that means the shorter, snappier hashtags will be the more popular ones.
Photo source: Instagram
Not knowing when to stop
You do not need to hashtag everything. Yes, seriously.
If your post doesn’t make a direct contribution to a conversation topic or wouldn’t be of interest to someone searching for that topic, then it doesn’t need a hashtag. For example, a simple update for your users doesn’t need to reach wider audiences so doesn’t need to be hashtagged.
If you would like any advice or to find out how we can help you utilise your social media channels, get in touch.