What is a hashtag & what are they used for?
A hashtag is a word or phrase that’s is preceded by a hash symbol (#). It can be used on social media to help people find a specific post, photograph or a piece of information that they might be interested in. This way, they don’t have to trawl through an entire account until they find what they’re looking for. A hashtag will help to draw relevant traffic to your posts because they’re searched for that unique word or phrase.
For example, let’s say your business sells rustic dining tables, then you could post a photo of one of your creations on Instagram, Facebook or even Twitter. In the caption, you would have a brief amount of text and a hashtag which reads: #rusticdiningtable. This way, anyone looking for inspiration or anyone looking for a rustic dining table will happen across your post and they’ll then know that you’re able to provide them with exactly what they’re looking for.
How to use a hashtag on social media
Hashtags will have different meanings and functions depending on where it’s used. However, the end goal and purpose of a hashtag is very much the same no matter where or how you’ve used it. For example, a hashtag used on Instagram is used in exactly the same way as it would be on LinkedIn, but different information would be given if you searched for the same hashtag on either website.
For example, if you searched for #accountantsinnottingham on Instagram, you might come across an image of a person at a desk hard at work with a small caption underneath that reads; “Looking for an accountant in Nottingham that you can trust? We have an experienced team of dedicated professionals who can help – get in touch with us today for more information #accountantsinnottingham”.
But if you searched for #accountantsinnottingham on LinkedIn, then not only would you get an image or a photograph but you’d likely come across an entire article which outlines their services and packages. The article could even detail advantages of choosing a local accountant over ones that are based further away.
Whether you search #accountantsinnottingham on instagram or LinkedIn, you’ll still come across the same information, it’s just that one social media platform might have more in-depth information to give you than the other. So how does hashtag use differ on other social media platforms?
How to use hashtags on Twitter
Using hashtags on Twitter is an excellent way to enhance engagement. You should look to use no more than two hashtags per post. The use of a hashtag on Twitter will make your post far more accessible should people specifically search for what it is you’ve posted about. You could have written a post that advertises a new article that’s just been published that details how you can reduce your energy bills.
Your post could have the hashtag; #howtoreduceenergybills. But the good thing about Twitter is that if someone types in ‘how to reduce energy bills’ without the hash symbol, then Twitter will still display posts that contain the words ‘how to reduce energy bills’. As such, your post will be displayed as relevant content and you can then watch as engagement grows.
Hashtags on Twitter are also good for finding conversations or discussions that people are having. This experience is enhanced even further through the ‘trending’ function that Twitter has on their search page. This way, you’ll be able to see what everyone is talking about right now, the good and the bad. From politics to reality television, you’ll be able to join the conversation through the use of hashtags on Twitter.
How to use hashtags on Facebook
When using hashtags to gain exposure on Facebook, it could help you to gain organic traffic. It’s important, on Facebook, to not use too many hashtags. It’s better for you to only use one or two at a time and make sure that they’re relevant and highly-searched for. Find your top-performing Facebook posts or articles on your website and go from there.
Let’s say you run a florist and your most popular blog post is entitled; ‘How to Choose the Right Wedding Flowers’, you could take that article and turn it into a Facebook post around wedding season (which is usually during the summer months). Once you post it, you could include the hashtags; #summerweddingflowers and #weddingflowersinnottingham.
Not only is the former relevant and more specific than just #weddingflowers, but the latter helps to pinpoint your customer base. You could even make the location more specific by putting; #weddingflowersinlongeaton or simply #weddingflowerslongeaton as opposed to #weddingflowersinnottingham which is far more general. If someone searches ‘wedding flowers in Nottingham’ or ‘summer wedding flowers’ then they’ll more than likely come across your Facebook post, read your content, make an inquiry and close a sale.
How to use hashtags on LinkedIn
Hashtags should be used professionally on LinkedIn as that is what this platform is primarily used for. Much like Facebook, you shouldn’t use too many hashtags as it could come across as being too spammy or crowded. If you choose your words and phrases carefully and if they’re relevant enough, you should only need one or two hashtags anyway.
If you post something without hashtags, much like with many other social media accounts, you limit that post to your ‘connections only’. If you add a hashtag at the end, then you’re opening that post up to the rest of the world and people who you haven’t ‘connected’ with. This way, you get more exposure and engagement.
How to use hashtags on Instagram
Using hashtags on Instagram can drive engagement and reach thousands, if not millions, of people. Instagram is different from the other social media accounts in the sense that more than just one or two can be used. Sometimes, using ten hashtags on Instagram is considered the norm.
This is because the content is more about the image shown rather than what’s written underneath it. People won’t focus on the hashtags you’ve written but they will come across your post because of the hashtags you’ve included, not because they’ve actually read them.
If you type #funnygoldenretriever into the search engine, then it’ll bring up an entire grid or gallery of Golden Retrievers doing something funny. The person searching for it won’t then click on every single individual photo and read the caption because they’re more bothered about the image itself rather than what’s written underneath it, but the option is there if they really did want to read the accompanying text.
As such, looking at the photos all at once, as a whole, is enough to satisfy someone who has searched for a specific hashtag. It might be that they hone in on one specifically, but this will rarely be to read the caption – they’ll just want a closer look at the image.