The History Lesson
Firstly let’s start with a bit of education, and learn where hashtags actually came from. Back on August 23 in 2007, Chris Messina used that sign # (formerly known as a Latin abbreviation for pound) for the very first time on social media platform and created a hashtag. According to him, it was supposed to be a tool to create groups on Twitter.
After convincing some other friends to use them too, hashtags started to spread. Two years later, in 2009, Twitter began to hyperlink the hashtag, then followed by all the most significant social media platforms. Today, the hashtag is an integral part of social media platforms used by millions.
Its purpose is simple, to categorize the online content. When it is used correctly, it gives users a better chance to explore social media and search topics or follow conversation they are interested in. In other words, hashtags are very similar to keyword phrases on a website.
How Should You Choose Hashtags?
Using hashtags is almost a science, sometimes maybe a life philosophy or religion 🙏 While some swear to universal keywords, others go for brand-made mottos. Here is a couple of advice based on experience and studies.
Make It Simple
#WhyNotToComeWihtSomethingSuperCoolAndSuperLong? Well, because nobody would read it. EVER. Not to mention, imagine someone searching for something like that 🤦♀️ Keep it simple, make sure you understand the meaning, and that your followers will know, what you want to say by that as well.
Don’t Do #likeforlike and Be Specific
Social media are full of high-popular hashtags that brings you certain likes but not followers (at the most those will be only bots). Instead of going this way for easy likes, think further and focus on your target group. It’s simple; the more specific your hashtag is, the more targeted your audience will be. And as you know, better-targeted audience means better engagement.
Keep an Eye on Your Industry
As a follow-up to above, be more specific when choosing hashtags to gain quality followers. Besides that, check what kind of hashtags your competitors are using and which of them seem to work the best. You can use the same or find alternatives. Great inspiration is also influencers in your field of business, or you can try special apps designed for searching fitting hashtags:
Count Your Hashtags
Here is the tricky question – how many hashtags should I use? Firstly, use at least one regardless of the platform. Otherwise use them rather modestly (exception might be Instagram, but about that later). A too big number of hashtags can look spammy or annoying. Not every single word in your copy need its hashtag #truestory
Let’s move over to particular social media platforms and their hashtags rules👇💥
The amount of 260 letters limits Twitter, so there is not much space to waste it on useless hashtags. And users don’t like it anyway. According to the study by TrackMaven, the best results have tweets with only one hashtag, maximum of two. More than two causes a huge drop in your engagement.
The hashtags here are more like a filter to the topics that are discussed by their authors. So don’t go for the mood here, but rather the facts, products or opinion.
When it comes to Instagram, it’s quite a different story. Some users swear to the biggest possible number of hashtags you can use, which is 30. You could see very often posts with a longer list of hashtags than its copy. According to the previous study, the best amount to go with is 9 to achieve the best engagement.
Consider the balance between the most popular hashtags (catching both likes and bots) and those more specific to your target group. To keep the post clean, there is an option to leave your copy without hashtags, and immediately after sharing it, copy the hashtags in a comment. Instagram is also a great platform to come up with your own brand hashtags and support user-generated content with your “label”.
In fact, hashtags are doing great on Instagram, so the platform pushed them a little bit further, and users can also follow their favorites. Moreover, the important thing every marketer should know is also the fact, that Instagram allows you to measure hashtag effectivity ➡ tap on View Insights below the post you want to see the data.
It is not that usual to use hashtags on Facebook like on the previous two. One of the reasons why is also that most of the accounts are not public to filter and see the posts according to hashtags. That’s also why hashtags on Facebook are mostly related to brands or influencers. But that’s our case! Make your post searchable via using ideal 1 or 2 hashtags connected to the topic you are referring to.
For LinkedIn, hashtags are still quite new stuff. On mobile they rolled out in fall 2016, full desktop usage wasn’t available until the fall of 2017. The platform uses them to monitor what’s important to users (and show them more relevant content). Adding a hashtag to your profile can give you better visibility, while as a part of a post, it helps better categorization. And because LinkedIn is a highly professional platform, stay modest with the amount, and tone of your hashtags.
“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.”David Alston
Hi! I am a content specialist here in ZoomSphere interested in social media since my studies at university. Besides that, I love sport and food, ideally all in one big combo! 🍕🏃♀️📲