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Hashtags for social media marketing

Hashtag Best Practices to Expand Your Reach

It’s a widely known fact that using hashtags in your social media posts is an important factor in social media marketing, since proper hashtag usage heightens your content discoverability and expands your audience and customer reach

However, since hashtag best practices differ on each social platformfor example, hashtag usage on Instagram works differently than on Twitterit can sometimes be confusing for brands to navigate how to use hashtags effectively across platforms. 

As a digital marketing agency that specializes in social media marketing, we have years’ worth of experience when it comes to understanding hashtag best practices. This article will highlight some of the hashtag best practices we’ve learned based on our own observations and research! 

 

Twitter

For a platform like Twitter, the platform’s limited character count for posts should be kept in mind while considering hashtag usage. Since the character count is capped at 280, while growing brands should aim to use at least one hashtag in social copy, it is widely advised not to use more than two in total. This is because you do not want your copy to be bogged down in hashtags, or to include too many consecutive hashtags. This makes the copy harder to read for users, and may seem like you’re forcing in key words rather than putting forth meaningful copy, which can come across as inauthentic to users. 

One way to include minimal hashtags into your Twitter content is to incorporate them organically into the post copy. If you are having trouble determining which hashtags best suit your copy, type your potential hashtag options into the search bar to see what kind of content and accounts are linked to it. Here is an example of incorporating relevant hashtags organically into the copy:

 

If you would like to use trending hashtags in your social media content, one resource is the “Trending” tab on Twitter. Though not all the content in this tab are hashtags (some of them are topics), the hashtags that are included are updated frequently, time-sensitive, and often include content that is specific to your location. 

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a platform that has a much longer character limit—700 for company accounts—but that doesn’t mean you should go overboard with the hashtags.

You should aim to use at least one hashtag in your post copy, and try not to exceed five in total. This is because the LinkedIn Algorithm may mark your content as spam if the hashtags exceed that number. 

If you are torn between choosing the most relevant hashtag for your post, you can do a quick search on LinkedIn to see which option or iteration has more followers. For example, “#digitalmarketing” has over 27 million followers, whereas “#digitalmarketers” has only 2117. Therefore, you will likely reach more followers or have your content be more easily discoverable by using the first option. 

 

Instagram

Though the recommended maximum of hashtags per post is 30, we typically recommend brands aim for eight to 10 hashtags per post. This helps to keep the caption copy streamlined and inclusive of only the top relevant hashtags to the post content. If you are incorporating hashtags into the copy, aim for no more than one tag in the copy, and keep the rest underneath. 

Another suggestion we have is to keep the bulk of your caption hashtags “hidden,” i.e. separated from the descriptive copy with either periods or any other preferred character. This helps for user readability, and helps to better define the caption copy. Here is an example of what this could look like: 

 

 

Another way to separate the hashtags from the descriptive copy is by posting the hashtags in a comment to the post instead of in the post copy itself.

We suggest coming up with a list of hashtags that are most relevant to your brand and cycling through them. We have also found that best results come from using hashtags that are below 1,000,000 and above 50,000 posts, in terms of creating content that is easily discoverable by users. You can also use hashtags in your Stories. 

Instagram is also a platform that has its own designated “Explore” tab, wherein relevant topics will show up on the feed. Using hashtags in your posts means that there is a higher chance of ending up on the Explore page, thus heightening your audience reach and gaining more followers on your brand page. 

 

Facebook

Historically, tagged posts perform worse on Facebook than untagged posts do, making it unnecessary and even adverse to include hashtags on this platform. 

Therefore, you do not need to add hashtags in the copy, unless you are referencing a widely used social media hashtag, such as “#BlackLivesMatter.” 

 

General Tips For Hashtag Best Practices

 

  • There are many types of hashtags to take advantage of. Here are a few of the main categories to diversify your hashtags:
      • Location-based hashtags are optimal if you are looking to optimize on local customers. Some examples of location-based hashtags are “#nycbusiness” and “the6ix.”
      • Branded hashtags are when a company invents a hashtag that is specific to their business, such as a slogan, tagline, or relevant topic associated with the brand. Though branded hashtags are not the most ideal for discoverability, they are optimal for your followers to easily stay up to date with your brand’s content and initiatives. An example of a branded hashtag is “#ShareACoke” by Coca-Cola.
      • Hashtag challenges are branded hashtags that brands can keep in mind when brainstorming a marketing campaign. Coming up with a simple yet unique hashtag challenge has the potential to be both interactive and memorable for customers, such as Guess’ “#InMyDenim” challenge in 2018.
      • Trending hashtags can differ on a daily basis and are often reflective of current news or media, social movements, and pop culture references. Examples of this include #BlackLivesMatter or #COVID19.
      • Niche hashtags, which are industry-specific hashtags, are optimal for brands looking to reach a specific target audience.
  • Hashtags that have “Followers” on platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn mean that users will see content show up on their feeds that include that tag. This means that it’s in your best interest to include a hashtag that has a large number of followers, as your content incorporating that tag may show up on their feed, even if they don’t follow you.
  • Be sure not to use spaces, punctuation, or characters within a hashtag, as this will separate the tag. However, numbers are allowed! As well, always be sure to look out for any spelling errors in your hashtag, especially when sharing educational resources or discussing an important movement, or are taking part in a social media challenge. If misspelled, your content won’t show up in the correct tag.
           
  • If your brand’s social media profiles are not already public, be sure to make them public, as hashtags will not appear publicly if your account is private. It is also worth taking the time to do some research on what hashtags are most relevant to your brand. One way of doing this is to look at top-performing brand accounts that are in the same or similar industry as your own, and take note of which field-specific hashtags they are using and what the engagement looks like on those posts.

Following hashtag best practices and determining which methods work best for your brand social media platforms will ultimately work wonders for engagement, performance, and audience reach. If you are a brand who hasn’t already begun optimizing on hashtags in your social media marketing content, now is the time to get started!

For even more insight on social media marketing, take a look at what makes our own marketing approach unique!