Do you remember when a hashtag was typically referred to as the “pound” sign? If not, then you probably know enough about hashtags to be writing this article.

In recent years, hashtags have become one of the best ways to categorize your online content. Primarily used on Twitter and Instagram, how do you know you’re using them correctly across social media?

The Purpose of a Hashtag

A hashtag (#) is like an online filing system. When followed with words or phrases, a hashtag helps catalog your content with like content, making it easier for users to see relevant posts in one place. If your digital marketing strategy doesn’t include the use of hashtags, you may not be reaching as many people as you’d like. 

Choosing the Right Hashtags

Just because hashtags are helpful search tools for online browsing doesn’t mean any hashtag is better than none. If you’re not using industry-related hashtags for your content, you could be doing more harm than good.

Research and Experiment

When you’re getting started with hashtags, be sure to refer to other brands in your niche. See what they’re using, and how much interaction they’re getting with customers. Any time you decide to use a hashtag, be sure you’re analyzing the reach of your post to see what’s effective. From there, you’ll know which hashtags to continue using, and which ones to ditch.

A knowledgeable digital marketing firm like Gravitate One can help research trending hashtags and apply them to your social media posts when applicable. Using the wrong hashtags, or ones that are not applicable to your industry can be frustrating for potential customers. If they come across your content due to a hashtag they follow, but your post ends up being irrelevant to their topic of industry, they won’t see you as a reliable source of information in the future.

How Popular Should a Hashtag Be?

In your research, you may see that a hashtag has recently been used 1,000,000 times. This may seem encouraging, and this hashtag is a great one to use for exposure. Unless your brand is well-established with a lot of engagement online, using an extremely popular hashtag may not give you the recognition you’re hoping for. If 999,999 other people have recently used that hashtag, odds are that using it for the millionth time will just bury your content in the sea of other posts.

A good rule of thumb is to settle on hashtags that fall in the mid-range for popularity. When you search a hashtag, look for results that have previously been used between 10,000 and 50,000 times recently. These hashtags are just popular enough without being overused. 

You can also try to build some clout for smaller hashtags that are extremely relevant to your content; while starting one from scratch may involve a long-term investment of time, using an already existing, but less popular, hashtag might be worth the trouble.

Length Matters

Have you ever come across a post with hashtags that stretch on for so long you’re not sure what they say? If you use an entire sentence as a hashtag, it can be difficult for users to decipher what they say. On the flip side, putting a hashtag #in #front #of #every #word is also extremely annoying for users. Be sure you find the sweet spot when it comes to using a relevant hashtag- not too long and not too short.

Timing is Everything

While it may vary, and algorithms are often evolving, it’s usually best practice to apply hashtags when you post your content. On Instagram, this means including hashtags either with your caption or in a comment right after your post goes live. If you want to schedule posts in advance, you’ll need to include hashtags directly in your captions; if you’re going to manually put hashtags in your comments, it’s most effective to do so in the first comment if possible.

Too Much or Too Little

Have you heard of shadowbanning? A variety of online behavior can get your content “banned” by a social media platform. If a user violates terms of use, community guidelines, or happens to use a hashtag that has been restricted, their content visibility can be limited. While using too many hashtags isn’t directly related to being shadowbanned, using the same hashtags every time can skew your reach. Also, the most hashtags you stuff into a post, the higher the risk you inadvertently use one that is restricted.

So what’s the magic number when it comes to hashtags? Let’s take a look at the different platforms and what experts recommend.

  • Facebook – No more than three hashtags per post
  • Instagram – Up to 30 hashtags per post
  • LinkedIn – No more than five hashtags per post
  • Pinterest – Between two and eight hashtags per Pin
  • TikTok – At least five hashtags per post
  • Twitter – Two hashtags per Tweet

Our Utah marketing firm has team members dedicated to social media and various forms of digital marketing campaigns. This means we have experts who are researching and implementing some of the most effective social media marketing strategies to get results for our clients. If you have questions about implementing hashtags in your marketing strategy, we’re here to help.