If you want to master the art of using hashtags on social media you’ve come to the right place.
Hashtags are, of course, a great way to:
Build your company’s brand Boost a marketing campaign Keep in touch with your audience
And knowing how to use hashtags is crucial for any digital marketer in 2019.
That’s why we want to walk you through the dos and don’ts of using hashtags—as well as show you how to use them for the biggest social networks.
But first, let’s take a look at what a #hashtag is exactly.
Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.
What is a hashtag?
Before it became a household term (and even added to the Oxford English Dictionary!), hashtags simply referred to the pound symbol #.
That all changed in 2007 when Twitter began to use the hashtag as a method of indexing keywords to help facilitate good search results for it. Since then, most every social media site has been leveraging hashtags for that same purpose.
Fun fact: The first hashtag ever used in this way was #barcamp. It was posted by Chris Messina, a product designer and internet consultant.
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
— Chris Messina ????☠️ (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
Hashtags that spread quickly and get used by a lot different users begin to trend. That means that the keyword term is popular and getting widely used online. That doesn’t mean that every hashtag you set out to use should trend. It all depends on why you’re using your hashtag.
Why use a hashtag?
There are plenty of reasons why you should be using hashtags in your tweets—but if we had to distill it down to three reasons, they’d be:
Using hashtags in your social media posts can greatly increase awareness and engagement.
Twitter reported that brands who use hashtags see a 50 percent increase in engagement compared to those who don’t.
Hashtags have also been shown to positively impact your number of retweets as well. Hubspot’s Dan Zarrella found that tweets that include hashtags were 55 percent more likely to be retweeted and shared by other users.
Hashtags are a very effective way to build your brand via promotional material, announcing new products, or just generating interest for your business.
Here’s a good example from Lay’s Potato Chips. They utilized the #DoUsAFlavor hashtag in order to generate excitement for and promote the launch of their new chips.
— LAY’S (@LAYS) August 10, 2017
Toilet paper company Charmin utilized hashtags in a much more tongue-in-cheek manner with their #TweetFromTheSeat campaign wherein they encouraged users to tweet at them from… well, the toilet seat.
— Charmin (@Charmin) September 27, 2017
However you choose to approach your brand building, be sure to utilize the power of hashtags so you get the most out of your efforts.
Find your audience
Hashtags aren’t just good for brand building and engagement—they can also help you find your target audience as well.
More specifically, hashtags can help your target audience find you.
How? Simple: By using the hashtags they use.
This method is especially effective within social media sites like Instagram where users can follow hashtags and see all the posts that use them.
For example, if someone follows the hashtag #travel, they’ll see recent posts that have that hashtag in their feed.
This is incredibly useful for brands who want to build their audience. By leveraging these popular hashtags that people follow, you’ll be able to get the attention of different users.
Be sure to leverage this tool when you’re trying to build your audience on social media.
What hashtags to use: 5 ways to find the best one
Now that we know what a hashtag is and why brands should be using them, let’s break down how you can find the right hashtags.
Because while they’re a powerful way to increase engagement, build your brand, and find your audience, it’s not going to matter if you’re leveraging the wrong hashtags for your social media posts.
To help you out, here are five great ways you can find the right hashtags to use for your brand.
1. Look at what influencers are doing
The influencers within your brand’s niche can give you a lot of insights into what hashtags are working.
And it’s simple: Go through your influencer’s social media posts and take note of the hashtags they’re using frequently.
To streamline the process even further, you can use a tool like Hashtagify.me. This tool allows you to search different keywords throughout Twitter and Instagram and see the top influencers for that keyword.
For example, if you enter in the term “health” it’ll search through all of Instagram and Twitter’s health hashtags to find the top influencer using that keyword (FYI it’s Obi Obadike).
This can give you a great idea of what people in your niche are doing—and what you can do to optimize your hashtag usage.
BONUS: Be sure to check out our definitive guide to influencer marketing to get the most out of working with influencers.
2. See what’s trending
Zooming out from influencers, your brand’s entire niche can give you great insight into what hashtags you should be using.
Whenever there’s a trending topic or hashtag within your industry’s circle on social media, take note of that. You can jump on that hashtag in order to increase your brand awareness too.
Another great tool you can use is RiteTag.com. This handy platform gives you instant hashtag suggestions based on real-time data whenever you make a social media post.
Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, RiteTag will give you solid suggestions on what hashtags you could be using based on its usage.
The platform also comes with a browser extension that can give you real-time suggestions as you write your post.
3. Be specific
Remember: The more you niche down your target market, the more customers you’ll attract.
The same idea goes for social media posts and hashtags. The more specific and targeted your hashtags are, the more opportunities your target audience will have to see you.
Try and hone in on a passionate community that shares an interest in one specific theme. The more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be—and a targeted audience generally means better engagement.
If you don’t have your own business hashtag, find one or two existing ones that really fit the photo.
Say, for example, your business sells baby products. Instead of using #parents—resulting in parents of children of all ages—opt for #newmom. The hashtag #newmom is specific to mothers of newborns—your target customer.
4. Use unbranded (but relevant) hashtags
Brand hashtags don’t have to (read: shouldn’t) mention your brand name. BUT they should represent your brand and what you stand for.
Destination British Columbia created the hashtag #exploreBC. The tourism company uses it to share scenic photos of the Canadian province taken by their employees and the community.
“I don’t really care much for the science behind the ‘Aurora Borealis’. As we grow older, we have a tendency to seek logic over emotion. Although I probably appreciate their beauty more today, they still ignite the same sense of awe and wonder as they did when I was a young kid growing up in Fort Nelson. I think back to those darkest of winter nights playing street hockey with my brothers. We would whistle at the northern lights and on some occasions, it felt like we could reach out and grab them. Our people believe that it is our ancestors who have passed on, dancing and saying hello. With the loss I have experienced in the past few years, I have found great comfort when out chasing the northern lights because of that. I much prefer this connection over a technological one. Trying to make sense of everything in our lives can sometimes tear us away from a world of imagination and fulfillment.” Caption + ???? by @winterhawkstudios in Fort Nelson a few weeks ago. . We love seeing your winter adventures around BC! Share your stories with us (and tag #exploreBC) so we can follow along. #exploreBC #exploreCanada #travelnorthernbc #IndigenousBC
A post shared by Destination British Columbia (@hellobc) on Feb 25, 2019 at 8:24am PST
Seeing photos from regular people on the official Destination British Columbia account quickly prompted more of their followers to embrace the hashtag and share their own photos. As such, the company has created a growing movement that