A Basic Guide to HashTags for Business

Pixabay - social-media-hashtag-sign-marketing-7128184/

Since their first use in 2007, hashtags have transformed how we interact online. The term “Hashtag” was even added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014.

Anyone who uses social media will be well aware of the ubiquitous use of hashtags. They are literally everywhere – but do you really understand their purpose and how to use them properly?

There was a time when the # or “octothorpe” was a symbol that signified a pound sign or a simple number mark. They were used on old landline telephone diallers, and from at least the early 1970s they were also applied in a computer programming language context.

Since social media arrived (specifically, Twitter) the role and associations of the # mark have evolved and transformed. No matter which social platform you now use, from Facebook to Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Threads, X, and YouTube (and others), you really can’t escape them. Some people now even drop the phrase “hashtag” into their conversation.

As an expert SEO provider, we appreciate the power and influence of hashtags when they are used the right way. Likewise, we understand how the inappropriate use of hashtags may damage your brand and business.

Let’s delve in…

What Are Social Media Hashtags?

Hashtags are used across social platforms to help content stand out amongst the millions of Posts, Tweets, Stories, Videos, Reels, and Comments published globally every hour.

A “hashtag” is a phrase or keyword that is preceded by the # symbol. It is embedded into the text of a post or comment on social media and highlights it in a search, connecting it to a particular theme, topic, event, person, or conversation.

Great for SEO outcomes (when applied properly), using relevant hashtags in your post enables the social network to index the post and make it more easily discoverable by those audiences who are most likely to be interested in your post or comment.

How Can Using Hashtags Benefit Your Business?

The purpose of search engine optimisation is to get your business seen online. It revolves around carefully selected target keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business, brand, or product, and which reflect what your target audience will most likely enter into online search engines to find you online.

Hashtags also contain relevant keywords and phrases, and by incorporating these into your social content, you effectively boost the performance and results of your SEO efforts by aligning your social posts with consumer searches. Even if you are not conducting an SEO campaign, you can still benefit from the judicious use of hashtags, drawing attention to your posts and encouraging audience interaction. They also direct people who are not existing followers or fans to your content.

The key lies in doing it the right way…

Statistically Speaking…[1]

  • A post with at least one hashtag elicits almost 13% more engagement on Instagram.
  • 35% of Instagram audiences believe 1-3 hashtags per post are ideal.
  • Businesses use custom hashtags for brand promotion, with 70% of hashtags on Instagram being branded.
  • The use of one hashtag on X (formerly Twitter) leads to an average of almost 70 more retweets for accounts with fewer than 1000 followers.
  • Hashtagging on LinkedIn posts increases their visibility by almost 30%.
  • Facebook is an exception – using more than a couple of hashtags on a Facebook post diminishes engagement by up to 17%.

Some Basic “Rules” to Follow

  • Hashtags begin with #. They must not contain punctuation, spaces, or symbols – they will not work.
  • Keep your hashtags concise – the best ones are simple and easy to remember (and spell).
  • Limit your hashtag use. Yes, Instagram (for example) allows you to use a lot of hashtags per post, but this is not the best practice; it looks like spam and will likely only annoy your audience.
  • There is no point inusing hashtags if your account is not public.
  • There is also no point using hashtags that are too obscure – unless you are legitimately likely to go viral and make them trend.
  • Place hashtags at the beginning for emphasis, end for context, or within to highlight a keyword in your social post or comment.
  • Only use hashtags when they legitimately add value to your post.
  • Ensure your hashtags are searchable, specific, detailed, relevant, and directly pertain to your brand or business in some way, containing your SEO keywords. They can be trending or brand-specific, but must be relevant and used strategically.
  • Don’t piggyback off “trending” hashtags if they are not relevant to you and what you are saying.
  • Used sparingly, hashtags can be used for humour – but don’t go overboard and ensure that you remain on-brand.

More Tips

  • Twitter/X: use 1-2 # anywhere within your tweets, in comments, replies, retweets, and in your bio.
  • Instagram: use 3-5 #, grouped together after your caption and in the comments. You can also use them in your bio and Stories to add context.
  • YouTube: add 3-5 # to your YouTube video title or within your video description. DO NOT use more than 15 # as your content may be flagged as spam and your tags will be ignored by the platform.
  • LinkedIn: 1-5 # is ideal per post; these should all be professional.
  • Facebook: use no more than 1-2 # per post, placed anywhere within or at the end of your post text. Hashtags tend to not be as effective on this platform as so many user profiles are set to Private.
  • TikTok: use 3-5 # in your video descriptions.
  • Pinterest: boost content visibility but use fewer than 20 # in any Pin description.

A Word About Colloquial Hashtags – Don’t Be Annoying!

To directly quote an article published by HuffPost[2] a decade ago:

“  It is not fine to #HashTagForNoApparentReason.

#YouAreADouchebag  “

The sentiment stands.

It was probably inevitable that, like with most other things, hashtags would come to be used colloquially. This can be annoying at best, potentially make the post publisher look ridiculous, and may even harm your brand.

Using hashtags without purpose is just silly – and today’s savvy audiences agree with this more than ever before.

Understand that hashtags are tools to create discoverable content and foster/join public conversations. There is no point using them in private posts (except for adding context, but be aware that your audience may be metaphorically rolling their eyes if you overdo this). Moreover, using too many hashtags is also a recipe for disaster – it indicates that you have no idea how they work and that you have no well-considered strategy. Your post may come across as spam.

Summing Up

Use hashtags to:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Improve your online visibility
  • Increase engagement
  • Improve clickthrough rates
  • Add context to your posts
  • Underpin and support research
  • Demonstrate your values
  • Support social issues
  • Connect like-minded people
  • Start relevant conversations
  • Improve your SEO outcomes
  • Disclose partnerships/sponsors

Need help with Keyword Selection?

Contact SEOcycle for all of your SEO needs – including keyword analysis and selection advice, website audits, social media management for SEO (as opposed to Pay-per-Click Social Ads), and more. We’d love to chat about your needs and explore how we can help your business be more visible for success.

[1] https://gitnux.org/hashtags-statistics/

[2] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/twitter-douchebags_b_4264097