The humble hashtag has found a new lease of life in recent years, having been adopted as the main mode of discoverability in organic social posting. Using hashtags in your posts helps you to label your content and have it seen by people outside of your follower circle. They’re a great tool when used effectively, but how do you know if you’re going about things the right way? Follow our tips below to ensure you stay on the right track.
When a hashtag is applied to a word or collection of words such as #DentistBournemouth in a post on a social platform, that post will appear in a public category for that term. This means that should someone search for ‘Dentist Bournemouth’ on the platform, that post will appear alongside any others that make use of the tag in their content.
This means you can make your content discoverable, enabling you to connect and engage with people on social media who share a common interest. The ability to have your content seen by more people helps you to increase engagement, awareness of your brand and hopefully, as a result, increase your follower base. The goal is that the more followers you have, the higher potential you have of those people taking more of an interest in what you provide as a business.
When using a hashtag in your post, make sure it actually relates to the post. As simple as it sounds, you’d be surprised by the number of people who don’t abide by this. A post about how amazing your patient’s smile is following their orthodontic treatment isn’t going to resonate just because you use any popular hashtag. If someone looking for posts relating to #SuperBowl2020 come across your dental related content, chances are they’re going to feel irritated and interrupted rather than inspired to visit you for dental treatment.
There are many, many hashtags used on every social media platform. With this in mind, you want to find ones that fit in with the context of your post, are used enough so people will actually see the post but aren’t too broad that your content will be lost in an overcrowded category.
For example, someone searching for ‘Invisalign’ clearly is interested in orthodontic treatment. However, with the brand being such an international powerhouse, the chances of your post being seen by someone looking for that treatment in your area are slim. You may then be better off opting for #InvisalignLondon for instance, to help refine the audience that will see it.
If you are creating your own hashtags that you want people to use and associate with your brand, it is very important that you choose one people can easily remember. When used effectively, brand-specific hashtags can be a great tool for engaging with your audience. It allows you to post content relating to that topic and provides people with the opportunity to communicate with you and respond. Anyone interested in that topic can search for it and see all of the posts and communication relating to it.
Getting the hashtag right is the main issue. Using one that is long and difficult to spell will probably not give you a great result. People will likely get it wrong, meaning their content will not end up in the correct category and will, therefore, be missed. The best way to ensure your hashtags get the maximum use is to keep them short, precise and simple to spell.
Though we touched on the misuse of trending hashtags earlier, there are ways to take advantage of these effectively. Trending hashtags are usually centred around current news and media topics or trends. Before using one of these in your social media post, make sure it adds value to your existing conversation. If it doesn’t add value, it will likely be ignored and lost in an ocean of posts. However, if you use the hashtag and your post is really informative, more people engage and share it, increasing your overall brand awareness.
For instance, recent weather events saw the hashtag #StormCiara become very popular in the UK, especially on the broadcast platform Twitter. Businesses affected by the storm were able to use this hashtag to notify their customers about possible disruptions to their service. This helps the business to communicate effectively with their audience, avoid negative feedback by providing helpful information in a difficult time, and be seen as a considerate company by others who aren’t currently using their service. If they utilise this method well, they could win over new customers by their efficient use of this medium to provide the best service possible.
The way you do this is by only making use of the hashtags that relate to your business or message. A dentist, for instance, could discuss the cosmetic treatments available to help people achieve a #LoveIsland smile, to take advantage of the seasons’ popularity while it airs on our televisions. You can find out what’s trending worldwide and locally by going onto a broadcast platform like Twitter. To discover which hashtags get the most use in your niche overall, you can look at hashtag analytics and monitoring sites such as Hashtags.org, Trendsmap or Hashtagify.
This is very important for businesses using social media. When delving into a new hashtag for brand awareness, you absolutely must check that it is ‘clean’. You do this by searching the hashtag before you use it to make sure it isn’t already being used by others for the wrong reason. You may think your choice quite obviously only relates to your desired topic but there are chances it could be interpreted in the wrong way or mean something else.
You should also be sure no other business is using it for their own promotion, or it is already involved in a negative conversation. By searching for the hashtag yourself before you make use of it, you can see what content exists in this category. You can then make a call on whether or not you are happy for your content to appear alongside it.
Some instances will require you to create hashtags that are more unique to your brand. As a dentist, you want to be able to reach prospective patients with the use of social media. As a localised business, you shouldn’t, therefore, concentrate solely on generic hashtags. Only using tags like #Dentist or #Orthodontics isn’t specific enough to target your ideal audience near your area. You need to cut through the noise and reach out to the people you want with a hashtag refined to what they may be looking for.
Unique hashtags are also very popular for when you are looking to create a conversation or buzz around a specific offer or event. To get great results, you have to use a hashtag that is carefully selected and tactically utilised.
The use of hashtags is encouraged throughout all social media channels, though the level of recommended use differs in each one. As we all know, the rules and features each platform change like the wind direction. However, it is wise to try your best to keep up with these to ensure you’re using your tags effectively.
As it stands, it is best to try to use a combination of more popular (wider-ranging) tags alongside your niche hashtag, so your content is seen while you build up the brand-specific tag presence. Some social platforms have restrictions on the number that can be used, like Instagram, who max it out at 30 hashtags. Others like LinkedIn have no restriction, whereas Twitter purely limits you due to their character count restriction.
As much as there may be higher limits set on some platforms or none at all, you must be wary of the number you use so as not to come across as a spam account. Algorithms are in place on these platforms to monitor the number used. Should they feel you use them excessively, they will restrict the number of people that can see and interact with your posts.
Over time we are seeing the number used across high profile and popular accounts drop significantly. The focus appears to be shifting to quality vs quantity and profiles are seemingly rewarded for producing more authentic, refined and targeted content. So bear that in mind when considering your use of hashtags and perhaps stick to only a handful in your posts.
Hashtags have the ability to connect your brand with many popular and incredibly visible topics. They can bring new viewers to your social media profiles and allow you to engage with them. When using them effectively, they can help you to expand your reach to targeted users and improve your customer relations.
The key is finding out to what topics your audience is searching for. When you find ones they are already talking about that are relevant to your industry or niche, you can cleverly utilise them to get your brand in front of interested eyes. Focus your research to find or create hashtags that are relevant to your content and company as well as being simple to use.