Did you know that hashtags have been around for about 20 years on social media?
Originally they were used to help filter and organise conversations on Twitter, but over the past several years, Instagram and then Facebook have adopted them to help businesses to be seen and found on search engines.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to talk about Instagram and Facebook.
What are hashtags?
Hashtags are used on social media platforms. A hashtag is a sign (#) followed by a word or phrase. The word or phrase that businesses use will depend on what kind of business they are, or what their social media posts are about. That word or phrase is seen as a category for search engines.
For example, I often use the hashtag, #smallbizmarketingtips when I post on Instagram. I’m a marketing coach and content creator helping small businesses. So, this hashtag is relevant to my business. I often post tips for small businesses to help them with their marketing. Using this hashtag does what it says on the tin – it marks that particular post into the #smallbizmarketingtips category.
Not only does it categorise my content, so that when someone searches for #smallbizmarketingtips, my posts are often included under that hashtag, it also helps individual businesses find an array of tips from lots of different marketing businesses.
In a nutshell, a hashtag helps social media users connect with other businesses over specific topics and popular content – and acts as an invitation to discuss, view and engage with all sorts of content online.
Should you use hashtags?
Yes, absolutely. Using hashtags increases your chances of being seen on social media and in search engines. For example, hashtags help Instagram know exactly what your content is about and helps IG suggest that content to people who are interested in that topic. It also helps show that content to users who are searching for specific topic too.
How do I find hashtags?
There are a few ways to do this…
- You can simply put a search into Google. Just type in ‘hashtags for XXXX’, (whatever business you are in). A list of hashtags will appear…usually it shows you the top 10 or more for that category.
- You can use a hashtag generator tool. Some of these tools are free, but I haven’t found any that you don’t have to register for – and often there is a catch or hidden fee somewhere!
- Simply log into your Instagram account, go to the search and type in # followed by whatever you are looking for. You will then be shown the top posts that have posted under that category. It also tells you how many posts fall under that category.
Do not use hashtags that have millions and millions of posts under it – your post will just get lost. I always advise using hashtags that have under a million…and mix it up. So, use a couple that have between 700k and a million posts, a few that have between 200k – 700k, and the rest under 200k, making sure you use some that are under 50k. This gives you the best chance for your posts to be shared in that category. I actually also use hashtags that only have between 500 – 1k posts, as I know my posts will feature in that category and it gets my business out there.
How many hashtags should I use?
It really depends on what you want to achieve. On Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, but generally people tend to use between 10-20.
There is no hard and fast rule – if you use all 30 hashtags, the more chances you have to share and connect with many audiences. However, if you keep your hashtags lower, you can connect with your specific audience better.
Facebook is slightly different. A study conducted by thesmallbusinessblog.net looked at over 200,000 brand posts on Facebook.
The study found that content with one or two hashtags had 593 interactions on average, compared to 416 engagements for posts with 3-5 hashtags and 188 interactions for posts with 10+ hashtags. From this, it’s clear that Facebook posts with fewer hashtags tend to perform better.
Are hashtags still going to be popular in 2023?
That’s a BIG, FAT YES!
Including a hashtag strategy in your marketing will help you build your brand. There’s never been a better time to put relevant hashtags in your social media posts. They play an important role in connecting potential customers you’re your business.