Are Hashtags Still Relevant on Social Media in 2018?
While most businesses, nowadays, tend to favour social media as a way of connecting and communicating with their target audience, a lot of businesses do not know how to properly use social media platforms to their advantage. One of the aspects of social media that business owners have a hard time mastering is the hashtag, a simple, yet powerful tool, that can help drive new leads. So, are hashtags still relevant on social media in 2018? While the short answer is yes, business owners must first learn how to use them strategically and in moderation.
At FirstPage Marketing, we often get asked about the relevancy of hashtags and how to use hashtags properly on social media. Unfortunately, when it comes to using hashtags on social media, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for businesses. That is why we offer social media strategy services that are designed to help business owners use popular social media platforms to their advantage.
In order to shine some light on the topic of proper hashtag usage, our team of digital marketing professionals has answered some of the more frequently asked questions about social media hashtags in 2018.
What are hashtags and why are they important?
Simply put, hashtags are a word or combination of words placed after the pound sign (#) that are used frequently throughout social media posts in order to connect with a topic. Hashtags can sometimes be best understood by relating them to categories of social media content. They work by allowing users to search for content related to a specific topic or theme category, organized by related hashtags. Sometimes it helps to think of hashtags like a search engine for social media content.
Businesses using social media can benefit by tracking specific hashtags related to their industry and targeting audiences based off of the types of hashtags they are using. Hashtags can also help to create online communities and meaningful conversations centred around local events, breaking news, and trending topics. Hashtags allow businesses to both track and take part in these conversations.
Hashtags are important because, when used properly, they can positively impact a business’s social KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). It is important to understand that most businesses use hashtags in order to boost engagement (increase the number of likes and comments on posts). This is common practice as, on average, social media posts that use hashtags are known to get more engagement than posts that do not. With that being said, there are many other great opportunities for businesses when using hashtags.
For example, if your business has a booth set up at a local trade show, check to see if the trade show is using an official event hashtag. If there is an event hashtag, why not use it to attract more people to your booth? Sending out a Tweet like the one below could be used to drive more foot traffic to your booth.
Should businesses use hashtags on social media?
Yes, as long as they are used strategically and within moderation.
The strategic aspect of using hashtags comes from several different variables that must first be considered. When deciding on which hashtags to use, ask the following questions:
- Who is my target audience?
- Where is my business located?
- Where is my target audience located?
- Which social media networks am I using?
- What are my overall objectives with social media?
- What KPIs am I using to measure my social media objectives?
Tip: Take a look at what types of hashtags are being used by competitors and key industry influencers.
Which social media platforms should hashtags be used on?
Hashtags can be used on many different social media networks; however, in our experience, they work best on both Instagram and Twitter. This is because they are used far more frequently on these two social networks when compared to other popular networks such as Facebook. Both Instagram and Twitter hashtags are great for consolidating similar content and creating online conversations.
Should the same hashtags be used on every post?
With the exception of branded hashtags, using the same hashtags on every social media post is lazy and ineffective in 2018. With Instagram’s 2018 algorithm update, copying and pasting the same hashtags on every post could be seen as spam and may negatively impact a post’s visibility. When applicable, it is important to switch up the use of hashtags to ensure that they are specific and relevant to the content in each post.
How many hashtags should be used per social media post?
There is no magic number for how many hashtags one should use per social media post; however, it is important to make sure that hashtags are unique to each post and the target audience. On Twitter, we would recommend using 1-2 hashtags per Tweet. On Instagram, we would suggest somewhere between 5-15, although Instagram does allow up to 30 hashtags in a single post.
Tips for Using Hashtags on Instagram and Twitter
To ensure that social media posts don’t appear spammy or attract the wrong audience, follow our social media hashtag tips below.
Tip 1: Use hashtags in moderation
Hashtags should be used in moderation. Do not spam a post with 30 hashtags if they are irrelevant and do not use hashtags on a post for no reason. With hashtags, it is all about quality over quantity. As a general rule of thumb, less is more.
Tip 2: Create a branded hashtag
Implementing a branded hashtag can create an online community that allows businesses to easily track user content connected to a brand. When creating a branded hashtag, remember to keep it unique so that it doesn’t attract irrelevant content.
Tip 3: Capitalize hashtags
When compiling hashtags for a particular social media post, it’s a good idea to capitalize the first letter of each word in the hashtag, especially if it is a phrase. This increases the hashtag’s readability and decreases the chance of it being misinterpreted.
Tip 4: Read your hashtag out loud and have multiple people review it
With hashtags, quality control is important. There have been many instances in the past where popular brands have mistakingly used hashtags that ended up having an unintentional, alternative connotation. Some of these hashtag miscalculations have been quite embarrassing and can result in significant backlash as seen here.
Tip 5: Do not hijack trending hashtags for exposure
Some businesses are guilty of hijacking trending hashtags to gain exposure on social media even though these hashtags are completely unrelated to their business. This tactic is quite risky and often results in negative publicity and backlash. We would highly recommend avoiding this since the risk is far greater than the reward.
While joining social media can help create a stronger brand identity, some business owners have a hard time knowing which platforms will work best for them. At FirstPage Marketing, we offer a wide range of digital marketing services, including social media strategy, that are designed to help businesses build better brands. If you would like to learn more about the proper use of hashtags in 2018 or if you have any questions about social media for business, please contact the digital marketing professionals at FirstPage Marketing.