How to Use Hashtags to Get More Exposure on Social Media

If you would like to reach a larger audience with your social media updates, then hashtags might be the answer.

Hashtags are simply keywords or phrases you add to your updates with a # sign before them. If people see a hashtag, they can click on it to see more status updates with that hashtag. In this post, we’re going to teach you how to use hashtags to get more exposure on social media.

Social Networks That Support Hashtags

Hashtags originally gained their popularity on Twitter, but have since spread to other social networks including Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and even Pinterest.

With exception to Google+, you will have to research the best keywords to add as hashtags to your social media updates. Google+, on the other hand, will evaluate your status update and add a hashtag to it if you do not add one. So if you’re really stuck on ideas, you can always post a status update to Google+ and see what it suggests, then go from there.

Hashtag Best Practices

Now that you know where you can use hashtags, let’s look at how you can find the best ones for your social media updates and get the most out of them.

1. See what hashtags your competitors use.

One great way to figure out great hashtags to use if you’re just getting started is to see what hashtags your competitor’s are using. Also note the social engagement (tweets, likes, shares, comments, etc.) on these updates to see if a hashtag is particularly useful.

2. About trending topics.

It’s tempting to just look at Twitter’s trending topics, grab a hashtag from there, and formulate a tweet around it. But you’ll want to make sure your social update is actually relevant to the topic and not in bad taste. Don’t be Kenneth Cole by advertising your products with hashtags about serious social issues.

3. Click through to discover what other updates come up with a particular hashtag.

If you’re not sure about a particular hashtag, just click on it to see what other status updates come up. If a hashtag is filled with 90% spam, it’s safe to assume that your update may not get the attention it deserves if  it is surrounded by too many other bad updates.

4. Note the difference in hashtag usage across social networks.

Just because a keyword hashtags works on Twitter, it doesn’t mean it will work well on other networks. Some networks have their own set of trends and memes, such as #FollowFriday being mostly focused on Twitter. If you’re doing competitor research for hashtag ideas, don’t just check their Twitter account – check all of their accounts to see if they use the same hashtags or change strategy.

5. Don’t overdo it.

Generally, one hashtag is enough to give your status update some virtual legs. If your goal is to get people to pay attention to the content of your status update, you don’t want them to get distracted with a lot of hashtags. This especially goes for status updates where the goal is to get clicks on your link. Since hashtags are also clickable, they can take away from your link’s ability to stand out.

6. Monitor your reach.

You may want to conduct a hashtag experiment. For one week, add relevant hashtags to your status updates. Then the following week, share the same types of updates, but without hashtags. Then, look at the difference in engagement from your audience – this will tell you whether hashtags really are getting your updates the attention they deserve. You can also use SumAll’s Twitter Search feature to find out how many people see your hashtags and who your most influential Twitter followers are as well as your competitors.

Measure Your Results

As you increase your reach with hashtags, see how it helps your business by signing up for a free trial of SumAll and connecting your social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+) along with other important accounts for your business.

Then look at your analytics to see if a boost in hashtag usage and reach also results in a boost in traffic to your website and sales. You might be surprised at what you discover!

10 thoughts on “How to Use Hashtags to Get More Exposure on Social Media

  • Thanks for the info – I just started using hashtags. I thought they were silly before, but now see the advantages of consistently using them on social media.

  • Thanks for this informative article! I’m new to twitter (yes I know, I missed the twitter train 5 years ago!) and am new to the whole #hashtag phenomena!

  • I try not to over do it with Hash Tags and when I do use them, I use them in-line, which I personally prefer than repeating the same words with and without a hash before them. What’s your thoughts to in-line hash tags Kritsi?

  • Twitter and other associated companies who promote their services as SEO experts talk a little too much about audience building but very little about the quality of audience. It is important to stress that all businesses are different. Two competitors offering the same product can have discernible differences and this is what one needs to find out first before even thinking about hashtag marketing. Get to know your clients or the sort of audience that you want to attract. There is no point in having a huge audience in the US when you are selling something in UK. Be very careful with hashtags and use them sparingly. They work best when used sparingly and targeted to exactly the sort of audience you want to attract.

  • The reason you should check a hash tag before using it isn’t just to see if people are using it for spam or quality content. If you’re joining an ongoing conversation, then you want to make sure your new tweet is relevant for that conversation. You’re more likely to get attention from people following that hash tag if you are sharing the kind of content that people are looking for when they browse that hash tag. For example, the most common use of the #CRPD hash tag is to talk about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (an international human rights treaty). But every once in a while, there will be a random tweet in that hash tag from someone complaining about some local police department in Cedar Rapids or whatever–completely off topic for the ongoing conversation in #CRPD and thus likely to be ignored by everyone following it. Or, if you are trying to initiate a new conversation thread on a new topic, you want to make sure that there isn’t some unrelated conversation going on in that hash tag that might drown out the one you want people to focus on. For example, I know one person who wanted to start some Twitter dialogue around a proposed bill whose acronym was MOVIE as a way to organize people advocating for it to be passed. So, logically enough, she asked people to start using the hash tag #movie. Except, the #movie hash tag turned out to be flooded all the time with conversation about movies in general, making it impossible to find the few tweets from people trying to have a conversation about the proposed legislation called MOVIE. If the people using those hash tags had taken a few seconds to glance at the tag before using it, they could have avoided these issues.

    • Thanks for the info.. It really makes sense. When I first started seeing hash tags I would click on them. But they would bring me right back to original picture or information. It didn’t make sense. I thought they were silly and useless. So, at first I thought it was me. I, quickly realized that, early on, people didn’t (sometimes still don’t know how to use #). So, thank you for this information. I hope more people realize their purpose.

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