Let’s be honest: when writing social media copy, hashtags are essential. By adding a hashtag to your post, you instantly link it to similar content. Hashtags are useful to categorise, draw attention to and promote posts on social media.
Chris Messina, a product designer, introduced the first ever hashtag when he tweeted:
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
— Chris Messina (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
Why use hashtags?
Most people use a hashtag to increase the number of impressions and engagements their post receives. Impressions are the number of times someone views a post. On the other hand, engagement is the number of times someone interacts with a post through likes, comments or clicks.
Since hashtags categorise posts, they’re an easy way to find related content. On Twitter, posts with hashtags earn significantly more engagement—2 times more for individuals and 1.5 times more for brands.
Hashtags could become even more essential in the near future, as platforms remove the number of likes on posts.
But with infinite possibilities, knowing the right hashtag to use can be complicated. To get started:
- Research what your competitors are doing.
- Check your prospective hashtag is active—if users aren’t browsing the tag, they won’t see your content!
- Use hashtags relevant to your brand, product or business.
- Use related hashtags to reach new users and grow your audience.
- Create a custom hashtag centred on your brand.
The optimal number of hashtags to use on Twitter is 1-2. Your tweet will look too crowded if you use many more, which makes users less likely to engage.
Because tweets are limited to 280 characters, you must be as efficient as possible. One method many users use is to incorporate the hashtag into the tweet’s copy:
— Gary Clarke Company (@GaryClarkeCo) October 18, 2019
Of course, Twitter is also known for its Trending Topics, where users can see which hashtags are currently active. Take advantage of this feature to see what the world is talking about and increase your reach. You’ll also be able to check in regularly during weekly trending hashtags like #MondayMotivation or #FridayFeeling or annual social media holidays like #NationalDonutDay or #WorldSmileDay. If you plan your content carefully, you can connect this trend to your product or brand.
On the other hand, the optimal number of hashtags to use on Instagram is between 7-9. But as with Twitter, you won’t want to spam your followers, so try adding hashtags in a comment, or by adding several lines to the caption.
How do you know if your hashtags are working or not? You can track your hashtags using Instagram’s insights feature, which shows how many impressions were received on your post from hashtags. This allows you to track the data and figure out which of your hashtags are the most effective.
Hashtags can be a tricky business, and you probably won’t discover your perfect hashtag strategy on your first post. But however you use hashtags on your social media, just don’t do this: