It began as a writing style popular in the Twitterverse but now the use of hashtags is seen across social networks. In fact, the hashtag’s popularity has grown so much that the term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year.
Hashtags are handy tool to broaden your social reach. Words or phrases affixed with a hashtag allow for the grouping of similarly tagged messages to be found in electronic searches, which means anyone interested in the topic can find you. Your messages are not just limited to your followers.
It’s no surprise that hashtags are especially useful on Twitter. A study by Buddy Media found that tweets with hashtags get 2X more engagement (clicks, retweets, favorites and replies) than tweets without them. Research from Twitter itself found that brands may see up to 50% more engagement by using hashtags (100% for individuals).
Google+ automatically gives posts hashtags depending on their content, but users can edit or add more. Hashtags can be especially important here since hashtags are now included in Google searches.
The jury is still out on whether or not hashtags provide any benefit on Facebook. Research from EdgeRank Checker found that using hashtags has no effect on reach and posts without hashtags outperform those with hastags. However, many social media experts believe that hashtags should still be used on Facebook as long as they’re used correctly (see this helpful article from our friends at PostPlanner). We’re inclined to agree.
Tips for Using Hashtags:
1. Don’t Go Overboard
Buddy Media’s research found that 2 hashtags are the maximum number that should be used. Posts that use more see an average of 17% less engagement. Another study from Social Baker had similar findings when it comes to hashtags on Facebook:
- Posts with 1 or 2 hashtags averaged 593 interactions
- Posts with 3 to 5 hashtags averaged 416 interactions
- Posts with 6 to 10 hashtags averaged 307 interactions
- Posts with more than 10 hashtags averaged 188 interactions
Instagram is the lone exception to this rule. Posts will 11+ hashtags get the most engagement.
2. Double Check the Meaning of Your Hashtag
Before adding a hashtag to any post, do a quick search and see how it is currently being used. There is no benefit to choosing one that is being used elsewhere for an entirely different topic or has an entirely different meaning.
3. Do a Little Homework to Find the Best Terms
Use tools like Hashtagify.me to find other trending terms related to your post. You can piggyback on other hashtags to increase your visibility and reach. However, make sure the hashtag is relevant.
4. Be Careful with Placement
Don’t put a hashtag in the middle of a post. It’s disruptive. Place your hashtags at the end of your post as to not interrupt the flow of your message.
5. Be Consistent Across Channels
If you are using a specific hashtag on one network, then use it on all your networks. You can “brand” your hashtag this way, encouraging fans and followers to use it on whichever social network they are engaging on.