Remember a few years back when this symbol # was just a pound sign? Good times.
Nowadays, you can’t log on to any social media platform without seeing one attached to a word or phrase. What started as a metadata tool is now a device that connects users around the world with a certain topic or theme. The hashtag grew so wildly popular in recent years that it became a Jimmy Fallon skit, featuring (my love) Justin Timberlake:
Aside from all of the fun, the hashtag is actually a super useful tool…when used correctly. It can be a way to engage with new potential customers or to simply learn/see more about a topic you’re interested in and how others are applying it. The more targeted your hashtags become, the better chance you have at true engagement. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your #hashtag use.
- Be Specific – This means that each social media platform is slightly different, and you must cater to each in different ways. On that note, it’s also important to get specific if you’re looking to target a certain audience. For instance, if you’re in the car sales industry, you could use #cars, resulting in all kinds of posts about cars (31,618,579 on Instagram right now). But, if you want to target users interested in buying or selling cars, you might use #carsales (only 167,129 on Instagram right now) to reach those specifically interested people and more likely earn some engagement.
- Keep it Short and Familiar – While it might seem fun to completely invent your own hashtag to use, remember that if it is too long, no one will want to type it in to search or use it. Additionally, if it’s a made-up word or phrase with little to no usage, and not meant for a campaign, it is essentially pointless because it won’t be something people will look for or know to use. However, if you do come up with a brand-specific or campaign-specific hashtag, make sure to spread the word and encourage use. (Think recently – #MeToo #TakeAKnee #WomensMarch #BlackLivesMatter.)
- Only Hashtag as Needed – Simply put, don’t hashtag every word or every phrase or every number. Hashtag what you want to be found for, or associated with. Don’t hashtag just to hashtag and get involved, or your content will just get lost. Hashtag to join the discussion and make your point heard. (Pro tip: Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post and no more, so hashtag accordingly!)
Remember – the hashtag is a tool available to make your awesome content visible and more easily discovered to a vast audience. To see how we’re engaging via hashtags in different ways, check out our Instagram @affirmagency!