This week I’m talking about hashtags, they’re a bit of a marmite subject, aren’t they, you love them or you hate them, and you’re never quite sure where to use them or how to use them or when to use them!
I wanted to break it down in simple steps for you:
What are hashtags?
To the uninitiated, using a hashtag on whatever you’re posting on a social media platform groups together what you say with everyone else who’s used that hashtag. When you click on a hashtag, you can see who else is using that hashtag, nifty, huh?
Why is this useful to me?
We all want to feel connected, right? No more so than in running your own business and in wanting to join in conversations. You may have seen hashtags for particular news threads, for events, for topics, for scheduled conversations. By using the designated hashtag, you get to join in that conversation and add your tuppence worth. #ValuableFreeMarketing
How do I include hashtags in my updates?
You can either write a sentence for your update and then add hashtags afterwards like this:
I love cake so much. #cake #love
or include the hashtag in your sentence (but this can read poorly):
I #love #cake #so #much
If you want to add lots of hashtags, please make sure you delete the spaces between words. I cannot tell you how often I see wasted opportunities due to the spacing issue! e.g. #Marketing #SEO #YeahBaby
Notice I’ve deleted spaces between the words of multiple word hashtags e.g. #toomuchtodo (for ‘too much to do’)
and also make sure you add spaces after the final word before starting the next hashtag.
Should I be using hashtags? How?
That entirely depends on where you are. I’ve broken it down by social media platform to help:
Whilst Facebook confirms they technically help search results, the hashtags used aren’t generally the terms searched and they’re not actually clicked on or used to any large extent. I think the hashtag use on Facebook does help with branding (for example, with a particular campaign) or in a humorous way.
Verdict: No need to really use them on Facebook if you’re looking to improve engagement this way. But using them humorously if you know your audience will enjoy them does work! Example below ;o)
With only 140 characters in each update, the power of the hashtag can be used here to group your tweet with other tweets talking about the same topic. When you click on a hashtag, you see who else is using that hashtag. You may want to connect with these people by retweeting them or favouriting them. If you and others who are geographically near you all use the same hashtag then you can make it start trending, which essentially means it appears more in your feed, and the feeds of those who are also geographically near you or otherwise follow a lot of the people who are using that hashtag (for example, I get trending hashtags about wedding discussions that I’m not necessarily a part of).
Verdict: Yes, use them! But sparingly – one or two maximum.
Instagram, how I love thee. The hashtag here is gold. You can use up to 30 hashtags, but let’s face it, that’s a bit much to look at and it will take up way too much space on your followers’ feeds. To get round taking up that much space, comment on your own posts with all the hashtags so that as soon as people start commenting on your posts, your hashtags disappear in the feed because previous comments are hidden, BUT the fact that they’re there does not and so your post is still searchable!
Make sure you put hashtags in your first comment and not your caption – watch the likes flood in!
Verdict: You should be using these! But which ones? Scroll down to get the freebie list of hashtags for your business.
Hashtags do not make the blindest bit of difference to search results or anything else. It’s a shame because I’ve seen Pinterest gurus out there telling people that you should use them, but I’ve heard it directly from Pinterest HQ.
ANY OTHER PLACE ON THE INTERWEBS
You can of course use hashtags anywhere you like, like I’ve done throughout the this blog post, but they won’t work anywhere other than social media if you want to join your conversation to the masses. Sorry!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Just for you, I’m offering a free copy of the Shine 10 Golden Rules of Using Hashtags if you sign up to my mailing list right here. You’ll also have the opportunity to download hashtags of the category of your choice, but you’ll only be able to see those from a link I’ll send you in an email.
Have a fabulous rest of your week!
Maddy & Team Shine xo
P.S. Awesome video about hashtags right here ;o)