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Using Hashtags on Social Media

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Remember when hashtags were called pound signs? That was probably around the time when we were listening to the dial up sound while trying to connect to the Internet. Oh how times have changed. The origin of the hashtag has already been discussed in chapter one of Hashtag 101, so let’s move along to chapter two – using a hashtag in your social media marketing strategy.

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A Hashtag’s Purpose

A Hashtags PurposeHashtags are used to highlight words or phrases. They help people find trending topics as well as specific subjects and interests. Your business might use hashtags related to your industry, industry-related events and conferences, and nationally or locally trending topics. However you choose to use hashtags in your marketing strategy is up to you. Just be sure to know the basics. And remember, spaces or special characters (-!$&) cannot be used in a hashtag. Simple hashtags work the best since they’re easily remembered and less likely to be misspelled. But when it comes to creating a hashtag for your company, make it unique and use it. Unique hashtags will keep people on your content.

Where to Use a Hashtag

Where to Use a HashtagHashtags are not intended to be used everywhere, nor do they work everywhere. So stop using them on LinkedIn. They won’t work. If I used a hashtag in this blog, it would not work like a hashtag used on Twitter. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and Tumblr are the major social platforms that support hashtags.

Hashtag Etiquette

Hashtag EtiquetteFor some social media platforms, there is a hashtag sweet spot. But on most social media platforms, one to two hashtags will suffice. And please do not make an entire sentence out of hashtags. We’ve all seen that one person who #adds #a #hashtag #to #every #word #in #the #sentence. That’s a bad habit and can look like spam. So let’s see how many hashtags are recommended for different social media platforms:

Twitter: Because of Twitter’s character limit, you should limit your tweets to no more than three hashtags.

Facebook: Even though you can use hashtags on Facebook, it is commonly not done unless the hashtag is trending. I’ll say you can add one hashtag to your post, maybe two, but I’m being lenient.

Pinterest: Hashtags used on Pinterest work a little differently than on other platforms. You can only click on a hashtag in the Pin’s description but not board titles or board descriptions. Pinterest is also rare in the fact that unique hashtags work better than generic ones. When you click on a hashtag in Pinterest, your results will be that exact hashtag, plus pins and boards that contain the word. As a business page, if you want people to stay on your content, use one to two unique hashtags.

Instagram: Like Twitter, hashtags used on Instagram are used to increase a company’s visibility. Typically, three to five hashtags are recommended on Instagram. You could use up to 30 hashtags, but then you’d be like that person who #adds #a #hashtag #to #every #word #in #the #sentence.

What’s trending?

Whats trendingAs a business, you want to make sure your hashtags count and aren’t a waste of character space. So if you’re trying to hop on a trending topic, there are tools to help you. When you start typing a hashtag in Instagram, it will begin to auto populate hashtags and the number of times each has been used. Twitter has its Trends bar on the left that shows trends tailored toward you and your location. Facebook has a similar feature with the Trending filter on the right side of your newsfeed. Both Twitter Trends and Facebook Trending can show hashtags and words or phrases without a hashtag. I personally like to use hashtags.org for finding trending hashtags – the free version of course. It’s a website that will show you trending hashtags, popular hashtags for different topics, and hashtag analytics for the past 24 hours. This tool is extremely helpful when you want to use a hashtag for a campaign and gain as much visibility as possible.

So next time you’re using a hashtag, follow some of these tips to keep your hashtag game strong.

About The Author

Courtney Peffley
Courtney Peffley is a Jr. Account Manager for Marketing In Color. She is a 2014 graduate of the University of Tampa's MBA program with a B.A. in marketing—also from UT. Courtney, who began as a social media marketing intern for MIC, is on the social media team and also supports the account services team.
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