Choosing the Right Hashtags for your Social Media
Love them or loath them, hashtags are here to stay - and they’ve never been more important for your business. What began on Twitter a decade ago, is today a primary mode of communication across all social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.
So what exactly is a hashtag? And why should your business care?
Simply put, a hashtag is a keyword or phrase with the prefix ‘#’ at the front that categorises content into one stream, making posts readily accessible to millions of users. Businesses can utilise hashtags to rapidly connect with their target market, as well as promote their brand or product beyond their immediate followers to anyone interested in the hashtag keyword or phrase. Hashtags have become one of the most powerful tools in modern day marketing, proven to increase traffic, build brand awareness and effectively engage customers in conversations.
However, not all hashtags are equal. Businesses need to choose their hashtags wisely, as they can make or break your social strategy. So how do you choose the right hashtags for your business?
1. Research Trending Hashtags
Keeping up to date with trending hashtags is one of the most important and effective strategies for promoting your brand and maximising customer reach. By responding quickly to incorporate a relevant, trending hashtag within your content, you can create massive exposure for your business.
However, as trends come and go, it’s important that companies remain up to date or they can easily find themselves in dangerous waters. To provide a haunting example, in 2014 DiGiorno, a frozen pizza company, mistakenly used #WhyIstayed to promote their pizza. Unfortunately, the hashtag was then trending as a forum for discussing domestic violence. A hashtag that means one thing today, can mean something entirely different tomorrow. So to avoid coming across as insensitive or rude, or to simply avoid the embarrassment, always do your research!
2. Have a Look at Your Competition
A great place to start your search is with your competition. Take a peek into your competitors’ social profiles and see which hashtags are proving effective for them (or not effective). If your competition is an authority in your niche, chances are they have figured out a successful hashtag strategy. Analyse their posting patterns and social interactions to see what engagement levels are like for different hashtags.
3. Keep Your Hashtags Specific
Be specific with your hashtags. That way your target audience can easily find your content. Broad and generic hashtags such as #happy or #travel might be popular, but your post is likely to get lost in the mountain of other users of the same hashtag. Keep your hashtags specific, and you’ll find yourself with a more engaged audience. Followers also like hashtags that are easy to read, so show a little restraint by keeping your hashtags short and to the point.
4. Come Up with Your Own Hashtag
Creating a custom hashtag is a great way to stand out from the crowd, build credibility and broaden user engagement with your business. A custom hashtag can be anything that is unique to your company and can be used when you have an event, run social promotions or if you are simply looking to provoke a conversation about your brand or business.
When developing a custom hashtag, it’s important that you do your research and make sure it’s not already in use. The last thing you want is to launch your campaign and find another company is using the same hashtag. Come up with something original, easy to remember and which specifically relates to your business. Nike famously turned their slogan ‘Just Do It’ into a hashtag to spark a conversation with users about working out. It made it easy for Nike to engage and track conversations and was also consistently used in all their posts across different platforms. A custom hashtag is only useful if you use it regularly, so make sure you convey it in each post and across all platforms. It’s either ‘use it or lose it’!
Understand the Best Hashtag Practices for Each Platform
One mistake that many beginners make is overusing (or under using) hashtags. Engagement levels differ dramatically across each of the key social media platforms, so it’s important to understand the best practices.
- Research confirms that tweets with hashtags receive twice as much user engagement than those without. But numbers are crucial. Any more than two hashtags per tweet results in user disengagement by an average of 17%. Levels of engagement were measured using a range of data including clicks, favourites, retweets and replies. If your business is just seeking retweets, hashtags are still a winner. Tweets containing at least one hashtag usually experience 55% more retweets.
- Hashtag away on Instagram. While this is not common practice on other social platforms, research has shown that using a lot of hashtags on Instagram does not impact user engagement. The minimum number of hashtags you should focus on (with a following of 1000 or less) is eleven hashtags.
- Facebook is the exception to the hashtag rule. Research has repeatedly confirmed that posts without hashtags outperform those with hashtags. Both early studies such as that undertaken by Edgerank Checker in 2013, as well as more recent research such as Buzzsumo, which examined over 1 billion Facebook posts from 2016, all point towards ditching the hashtag for Facebook. However, we do advise doing your research before making any final decisions, as the world of social media is always moving and things could change fast.
Final Points on Hashtags
Selecting the right hashtag doesn’t need to be difficult. Follow our guide, and you'll soon be well on your way to choosing the right hashtags for a winning strategy.
If you're struggling to get your head around using #hashtags, or not sure which ones are best for your business or content...
Just get in touch with one of our social media marketing consultants for some friendly advice.
If you're still not sure how to make social media work for your business, speak to BabbleHub TODAY for a FREE consultation to help your business grow!