My favourite question from people I meet is, quite literally, “What’s a hashtag?!”
They ask me with a look of disbelief that they actually said the word aloud, and then they laugh nervously when I smile back at them. My answer has never changed, although the explanation is somewhat longer and changes on a regular basis!
Quite simply put, a hashtag is an online, clickable, linkable keyword used in social media to connect conversations and topics. Hashtags can also act as commentary tacked on to the end of social media posts to add a bit of flair and personality, which cannot be easily conveyed through text alone. Hashtags are extremely powerful ways to connect people together into a conversation thread surrounding a small event for a large scale global news event.
These are only a few of the ways that hashtags are being used and as the digital world develops a language of its own, the use of hashtags will also continue to evolve. For this very reason, it is important to do a bit of research before using hashtags for the first time.
Almost all social media networks are using hashtags of some sort, but keywords are used across all online media including blogs, websites, and videos. In all cases it is important to understand what your audience will be searching for and what hashtags they are already using in their online conversations.
Begin by following other social media accounts that are popular in your industry. Remember my rule of three when building your online network. Follow like-minded professionals, potential clients, as well as cheerleaders and take note of which hashtags seem the most popular in your network – but keep in mind that this might change from post to post!
Hashtags really do work to connect you to a wider network, but beware of spamming your post with too many! Ideally, on Instagram, aim for 5 hashtags in your post. These can be dotted throughout your posts or tacked onto the end. When you share to Instagram or Facebook though, take some out, as you only want to use 1 or 2 on those networks. Feel free to use common hashtags or make up your own! Using your brand as a hashtag can lead your customers to all of your recent posts with just a click!
For more tips, check out this great guide from Post Planner on the Top 25 hashtags used on Instagram.
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