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 look at how you can potentially reach more people with your social media updates using hashtags.
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!