How to master the hashtag

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 05/18/2016

What is a hashtag, what does it do, and where can I use them?

You’re probably here because you have questions about this thing "#". The hashtag. What is it? What does it do? Why do I need to know what it is? Don’t worry, I’ll answer all of these questions. First let’s open up our history textbooks. August of 2007; the first hashtag was born, #barcamp, proposed by Chris Messina. Since then, the hashtag has exploded into a way to organize ideas, topics, and posts for users to explore relevant conversations.

“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.”
-Amy Jo Martin

The birth of a trend

The hashtag rose to fame on Twitter. It’s pretty much a tagged link that searches content with the same tag. #TheMoreYouKnow. So what does this hashtag do? It simply creates a conversation. It gives people the ability to search through relevant posts based on the hashtag.

For example, let’s say I tweet:

“Everyone read my beautifully written blog on hashtags! #DigitalMarketing.”

The #DigitalMarketing would be a hyperlink to a page of statuses with the same hashtag. So now you have a way to see what your target consumers are talking about, as well as a way to reach new potential!

There we have have a general idea of what a hashtag is, and what it does.

But where can you use them?

Just about any social media outlet! Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus. You can even slap those bad boys on traditional marketing material.

No discussion on hashtags could be complete without a little comedy from Jimmy Fallon. Enjoy the short video below!






How can I master it?

There are only a few rules that govern the success of your hashtags. Always check the content before hashtagging. In a little bit, I’ll give you guys some horrible (but hilarious) hashtag fails. It’s really important to do some research on the hashtag before you go throwing it around. Depending on the social media platform you’re using, the number of hashtags matter. Here are the facts:

Twitter

  • Tweets with hashtags get 2x more engagement than those without
  • BUT 3+ drop engagement by 17%. So stick to 1 or 2

Instagram

  • It’s said that the more hashtags you use, the more of a community you build
  • It’s also shown that the more hashtags you paste to your pics, the more likes you get
  • Some research says to cap it off at 5, some say 11+. Coca Cola typically uses one or two per post, while Xbox uses 4 or 5
  • I’d say it’s all about strategy. Use five-ish on the post, and sneak some more in the comments!

Facebook

  • Research shows it actually hurts you if you hashtag it up on Facebook. I would try and steer clear

Pinterest

  • The experts say to go with a unique hashtag that, when clicked, will more likely show your specific pins

Google Plus

  • You can use potentially as many as you want. Just keep them relevant to your post

I know I promised you some hashtag fails. Click here to see some careless hashtag marketing examples!

I’d like to end with one final tip. Ritetag is an extension that can suggest more optimal hashtags to increase views, engagement, click-through rates, etc. It’s pretty simple to use as well. Feel free to check it out here!

It’s been a long time for hashtags, but they seems to maintain relevance in the digital marketing world. This is so long as you’re careful.

Tell us some of the hashtags your company has used in the #CommentSection below!