Hashtags are a device used online to tell social media search engines (yes your favourite social media channels are search engines too!) what your social content is about, so they will display it to people who search for that subject. They’re key for getting seen on social media.
By identifying key features of your content you can assign appropriate keywords using the # symbol, followed by your keywords.
Hashtags can be a single or multiple words. For example, over at MeMeMe we are all about wellness, so you will often see #wellness or #wellbeing incorporated into our social media posts.
What are the benefits of hashtags?
Hashtags are phenomenally powerful when it comes to engaging people on social media, growing your following, and extending your reach. Posts using hashtags will not only be seen by your followers, and anyone they share a post with, but potentially by anyone searching for the keywords you are using.
For example, if you type ‘wellness’ in the search bar on Twitter, it brings up all recent Tweets containing #wellness. If you’re on Instagram, the search feature looks at the profiles you follow and the content you have liked, and uses the hashtags in them to populate your feed with more posts from new people featuring those same hashtags. If you search for an image on Pinterest, the images that appear will have hashtags of the terms you searched for associated with them (in the metadata of the image, the description, or comments).
By using hashtags you are essentially telling social media search engines what your content is about, so they can show it to people looking for exactly that kind of content. This is especially useful if your content is an image and has no text.
Hashtags are a fast, efficient, free, and ridiculously easy way of showing your fabulous content to lots of potential new (ideal) clients. Hashtags also make your content more shareable – people are far more likely to share content that includes a relevant hashtag, and are particularly likely to share your content on Twitter if you include the hashtag #RT or #PleaseRT, meaning ‘retweet’ and ‘please retweet’, respectively.
What format should I use for hashtags?
Hashtags are really easy to format. You simply use the # symbol, followed by your keyword(s), with no spaces or other symbols. Any space or additional symbol will end your hashtag, so if you want to use the keywords ‘women in business’ it would appear #womeninbusiness – if you forget, and include a space, the hashtag will end at the space. Take a look at the examples provided – the text in orange is what would function as a hashtag in each case.
How do you use hashtags?
This is the neat, clean, and preferable way of using hashtags, although it’s not always possible. The in-text method incorporates your relevant hashtags within the sentence structure of your copy.
For example, let’s take the following tagline:
Check out this awesome post about how practicing forgiveness benefits your mental health!
Choose the key elements of the copy and swap them out for an appropriate hashtag. The key elements of this tagline are the subject matter (forgiveness and mental health) and the fact that the post you are sharing is beneficial to your lifestyle.
Find an appropriate hashtag for each of these elements, and swap out words for hashtags so that it still reads naturally:
Here’s some #WednesdayWisdom, an awesome post about how practicing #forgiveness benefits your #MentalHealth!
Note that when using more than one word I have capitalised each word. This allows people to read the tag naturally, as part of the sentence without struggling to pick it apart.
Sometimes it’s difficult to work the keywords you want to use into a sentence, and often there are a LOT of keywords you want to associate with a particular piece of content to really maximise its shareability.
There may also be times when you don’t want to clutter up your copy with hashtags, or detract from what you’re saying by emphasising particular words. When this happens, don’t panic, you can include as many hashtags as you like (character limits permitting) after your other copy, or as standalone text.
Let’s take our previous example and see what it looks like using this method:
Check out this awesome post about how practicing forgiveness benefits your mental health! #WednesdayWisdom #forgiveness #Mental Health
The advantage of this method is that you can cram in as many hashtags as you have space for, and it makes little difference – when people see clusters of hashtags, they generally ignore them, knowing they’re there to ensure people find relevant content. They may read them if they’re particularly interested, but the majority of people simple switch off after the first couple, when it becomes clear it’s just a list of tags.
This means the number you use makes little difference, and you can use as many as you like:
Check out this awesome post about how practicing forgiveness benefits your mental health! #WednesdayWisdom #forgiveness #MentalHealth #PracticeForgiveness #MentalHealthAwareness #GetLoud #mindfulness #DailyDoseOfWisdom
It also means you can fill an entire description or comment (especially on images and memes) with nothing but hashtags and most people won’t mind. In fact, most people won’t even notice. This is particularly useful on Instagram.
In fact, if you use a scheduling tool such as shedugr.am to post your Instagram content it provides you with two different description boxes, one for your copy (description) and one that appears as the first comment below the image, which was specifically designed by Instagram to be filled with nothing but hashtags, ensuring your content is fully optimised, and you don’t have to choose between using up your characters for a description, and using it for SEO – you can do both!
What Hashtags Should I Use?
The exact hashtags you use will vary depending upon your niche, and the specific content you are promoting. You should aim to be as specific as possible but also be sure to use popular tags.
Hashtags are something you should research on a business level, and also on an individual topic/post level. There will be certain topics that make up your business and exemplify your niche – for example, wellness is the core of MeMeMe, making it a business-level subject.
The core topics covered in the magazine are more extensive – wellness, health, happiness, life, relationships, mental health and several relating to business practice, these are at an individual topic level.
In addition to that there are also posts that occasionally straddle one of our central topics, and another topic, which are at an individual post level. We research hashtags relevant to all three of these levels, and ensure that all our content includes a relevant hashtag from at least one of these groups.
Where Can I Find Hashtags?
There are several free resources available for researching the best hashtags to use. Google is a mine of information, simply type in ‘hashtags for’ followed by the topic you’re researching, and it will bring up a wealth of suggestions.
You can also use sites like hashtagify.me which are specifically designed as search engines for finding the best hashtags.
What are you favourite hashtags? Tell us in the comments below!