Whether you are a content creator or a social media manager promoting a brand, building a following on social media is important to reach your target audience or market. Using hashtags is a great way to have organic views and engagements. However, competition for views can be fierce and not all social media platforms have the same hashtag rules.
Learn how to utilize hashtag strategies effectively so that you can make every post count. We’ll explain the basics of hashtags, why they are used, and some tips and tricks to generate the best ones for your content.
What are hashtags?
A hashtag is a word or phrase added to a social media post, with the hash symbol (#) used before the word. It acts like a metadata tag to add context to the content of the post and to help people find the relevant information they are looking for.
Hashtags become clickable links so you can see all posts on the topic. It is often stylized in title cases without spaces between words. For example, a post about coffee can simply have the hashtag #coffee or #MorningCoffee.
How are hashtags used in social media?
Here are some of the ways that marketers and content creators use hashtags on their social media pages:
Reach the Right Audience
Hashtags are used to search for content about a specific topic. It can be as broad as looking for a restaurant or as specific as an Italian restaurant in New York City.
If you want your post to reach your target market, study the existing hashtags that people already use in search for content. Platforms like X and Instagram show the number of posts that use a particular hashtag. You can then add these to your posts so that they can appear in the appropriate feeds.
The nature of social media is fast-paced, which is why content is often short yet impactful. But sometimes, the right message may not come across to your audience and worse, it may be misinterpreted.
Hashtags help bring additional context to the message. Funny or witty captions can be offensive for some without proper context. You can use hashtags to avoid any issues and make sure that your post is relevant.
Promoting an Event or Advocacy
Marketers often come up with a hashtag to promote an upcoming event or advocacy. These hashtags are unique to the event so that people can easily find posts about it. It also encourages people to post about the event or share their opinions on the advocacy. If you plan to work with influencers, you can let them use your specific hashtag to effectively promote the campaign to their followers.
When thinking about a hashtag for promotion, make it as specific as possible to avoid mixing it up with irrelevant posts or topics. For example, include the current year in the hashtag for your event to ensure that your posts are referring to the latest event.
Increase Brand Awareness
Building interest in a brand is not easy, as you can be competing with other companies with huge followings. You can introduce your product or service to potential customers by using relevant hashtags. People interested in skincare, for instance, can find your product through hashtags about it.
In addition, social marketers often come up with their own hashtags. The hashtag doesn’t have to include the brand name. Instead, a clever phrase or tagline can be used so that people can easily remember it. This phrase will then be associated with the brand when used in future posts to encourage user-generated content. You can also use hashtag analytics tools to monitor their reach later.
To illustrate, let’s say you want to promote a pizza restaurant for family gatherings. You can have posts that talk about get-togethers and the joy of eating together, with a catchy tagline as the hashtag. With enough traction, this hashtag can be used by other people as they post about their own parties with family and friends.
What are the benefits of hashtags in posts?
Hashtags can significantly improve the performance of your social media posts. Adding hashtags to your posts can bring the following benefits:
- Categorize posts: Your social media page is used as a repository for all kinds of content. Using hashtags lets your followers find the specific posts that they are looking for.
- Boost engagement: Relevant hashtags can help people share it in their own accounts, which can reach a wider audience. Users will be able to find your brand and follow your page.
- Target your desired market: If you have a niche product or service, it’s more efficient to promote it to those who will have genuine interest and possibly buy from you. Promoting a gym with hashtags about exercise and healthy eating makes it easier for health buffs to discover your facility.
- Monitor campaign performance: Hashtags help you gauge the types of content that people are interested in and interact with the most. There are many tools that give insights on which hashtags perform best as well as similar ones that you can use in your next posts.
- Maintain brand relevance: You can find trending topics and buzzworthy hashtags and use them in your posts. Joining trends like #ThrowbackThursday or #OOTD can help with your brand’s image and relevance.
Hashtag Rules for Each Platform
While hashtags are commonly used in most social media platforms, each one has rules that you need to keep in mind. Here are some of the best practices to remember when adding hashtags to your posts:
Instagram is a popular photo and video-sharing platform owned by Meta Platforms. It is one of the most popular social media platforms today with millions of users. Most brands have an Instagram page to promote their products and services, work with influencers, and even set up their own store.
The basic rules for using hashtags on Instagram are as follows:
- Hashtags can be added in the caption of your photo or video as well as the first comment.
- You can only add hashtags in your own posts.
- You can add numbers in your hashtags, but special characters are not allowed.
- You can include up to 30 hashtags.
- You don’t have to use up the maximum number of hashtags. Instead, it’s recommended to add at least 11 hashtags.
X is the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Users post various types of content such as text posts, photos, videos, and even polls. On X, you can see trending topics of the day based on the highest number of posts about a topic or use of a hashtag. Looking at this list gives you an idea of what people are currently interested in or things that are most talked about.
When adding hashtags to your post, here are some things to remember:
- Posts on X are limited to a maximum of 280 characters. It’s better to add only one or two hashtags to each post to avoid going over the character limit.
- Don’t add spaces or punctuation to your hashtag, as this will not turn into a link.
- Make sure that your posts are public so that your hashtags will be visible.
Facebook is still the most popular social media platform, with over 3 billion users. Many businesses, from small to medium enterprises to large corporations, have Facebook pages to reach as many people as possible.
Hashtags are not used as often on Facebook, but they help your posts to be seen by more people, not just your followers. The platform recommends doing the following:
- Make your post public so that it is searchable within the platform.
- Hashtags should be written as one word with no spaces.
- Avoid special characters and punctuation in your hashtags.
YouTube is a video-sharing platform owned by Google. Many content creators and influencers put up their own channels where they post videos and short-form content, create playlists, and host livestreams. Apart from uploading videos, users can add content to community posts on their channels.
You can utilize hashtags to make it easy for your videos to be included in searches. Remember these rules when adding hashtags to your video caption:
- You can include hashtags in the title and description.
- You can add many hashtags, but only the first three hashtags will be included in the video title.
- YouTube discourages over-tagging or adding too many hashtags. Videos that have more than 60 hashtags are ignored and may even be removed.
- Make sure to only add hashtags that are relevant to your videos. YouTube can remove videos that may seem to be misleading because of the hashtags used.
- Avoid hashtags that encourage hate speech, violence, and bullying or have vulgar language and nudity.
LinkedIn is a social media platform that’s mainly used for professional networking. Here, users create job profiles that highlight their work experience, skills, and other credentials. Brands have LinkedIn pages to showcase their company, post job openings, and share insights about their industry.
Individuals and brands alike can post various content, and adding hashtags is a great way to organize posts and optimize your content for search. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
- Hashtags must have no spaces. If you are using a phrase, capitalize each word to make it easy to read.
- Don’t place hashtags at the beginning or within your post because this can take attention away from the actual content. Instead, place your hashtags at the end of your post.
- LinkedIn doesn’t have a hard limit on the number of hashtags you can add, but it recommends that you add just three. One or two hashtags can be about the general topic while another hashtag can be more specific.
Tips on Adding Hashtags to Your Post
Hashtags help make your posts visible to your target audience and even promote your brand. But you can’t use just any random hashtag and expect to have a viral post. Here are some ways to effectively use hashtags in your post:
Choose the most relevant hashtags
Avoid adding hashtags that are simply popular without thinking if your actual content is relevant to them. People won’t pay attention to your post if they see that it’s not related to the topic they’re searching for. Make sure that your hashtags are on topic so that users will be encouraged to interact with your posts.
Check the trending hashtags
You can consider adding in popular hashtags to help your post gain more impressions. Trending hashtags are usually visible when you add hashtags to your post or list on the platform.
Leverage your niche
Sometimes, utilizing hashtags with a lower number of posts can actually help you gain more engagement. It may be hard to compete with brands with a huge following, and you can end up with few to no views.
You can use hashtags that have fewer posts to have a better chance of being noticed. One example of this is trying to target those who are searching for “What can you do with a psychology degree.” There may be few posts about psychology, but putting forward your content about it helps your brand gain the attention of people who are actually interested in it.
Have quality over quantity
Adding a lot of hashtags doesn’t mean that your post will have a lot of comments and likes. It may even affect your post negatively because it will be seen as spammy. Follow the platform’s recommendation on the number of hashtags used for posts.
View posts that use your target hashtag
It’s best to check first the existing posts of the hashtag you’re planning to use. This is especially important if you’re promoting an event or new product. Your specific hashtag might already have been used before, so you need to check if it’s safe to use or if it got involved in some kind of controversy.
Use a good variety of hashtags
While it is important to make your hashtags relevant to your post, it’s also recommended to use a variety of hashtags. This means having a balance between broad hashtags and more specific ones. For example, your post about brewed coffee can have a hashtag about coffee in general and a hashtag about the particular coffee bean used in the drink.
Utilize Social Media Effectively with the Proper Use of Hashtags
You worked hard in crafting the best content for your social media pages, but your efforts might go to waste if your posts don’t get the views they deserve. Using the right hashtags is one of the easiest ways to increase engagement.
Remember, not every post has to be viral. What matters is that you’ll be able to reach the right audience that relates most to your content and establish credibility in that niche or community. Hashtags help you keep your posts on topic and maybe even start trending topics in the future.