Believe it or not, hashtags are still relevant in today’s digital landscape. Hashtags are keywords or phrases delineated with a hash symbol (#). In social media, they help to categorize content and allow users to search for exactly what they’re looking for. Nowadays with the amount of content out there, social media users aren’t searching for hashtags as much anymore, but they’re still important in helping the social media platforms’ algorithms to direct your posts to the right audiences (on your suggested ‘Explore’ page or ’For You’ feed). In addition to captions and copy, hashtags play a critical role in your marketing SEO (search engine optimization).
Besides SEO, there are a host of other reasons your brand might want to use hashtags:
Build a community
Find and promote UGC (user generated content)
Be part of a trend like #ThrowbackThursday
Create sponsored partnerships
Join a larger conversation
Disclose an #ad
So, no. Hashtags certainly aren’t dead! The key—like anything else in social media marketing planning—is to implement strategy.
5 Steps to Setting Up Your Own Hashtag Strategy
Do some research on the Instagram Explore page. What hashtags do you notice? When you click on a particular hashtag, how many times has it been used? Is the content generally accurate to the hashtag? With a hashtag used over 10 billion times, you’ll probably get lost in the shuffle. Go for more niche hashtags with max 10k-500k volume.
Now is the time to come up with curated hashtag words and phrases. Using hyper-relevant hashtags can connect you with your target audience. But more general hashtags can be beneficial for greater reach and tangential audience engagement. Hashtags can be descriptive, branded, location-based, industry-based, or community-focused. Take out a piece of paper and pen and brainstorm 5-8 hashtags for each of these categories as they relate to your company.
There’s debate around just how many hashtags one should use.
Instagram suggests only 3-5 (though they allow up to 30). Conversely, Later conducted a study illustrating that 20 hashtags garnered the most engagement. For IG, we’re of the opinion that the more hashtags, the merrier—so long as they’re relevant to your brand/post.
TikTok has no limit on hashtags, but sets a 300-word character limit for captions.
And while Twitter also has no limit, they recommend just 1-2 for maximum effectiveness.
Hashtags are important for search optimization on Pinterest. The platform recommends 2-5.
On Facebook, hashtags aren’t as easy to track since many users’ profiles are private. Still, 2-3 per branded post can help with awareness and keyword searches.
Here at Media Á La Carte, we love analytics. Keep an eye on how your hashtags are supporting your content. Here’s how to track hashtag performance on Instagram.
In any case, using any hashtags at all is better than zero. Look back on your most recent Instagram post. On that same piece of paper, see if you can come up with 20-30 hashtags (both general and specific) that could align with the post. Save a list of hashtags separated by category for easy picking in the future!
Hashtag Strategy Tips and Tricks
Here are some extra ideas and tips to keep in mind when you’re setting up your hashtag strategy:
If you’re hashtagging 2+ words or a phrase, capitalizing the first letter of each word can help visually impaired screen readers. #AccessabilityMatters
Hide your hashtags from crowding your caption but inputting them in the first comment on your post (You can pre-schedule this in social media management apps like Planoly).
If you’re using hashtags within your caption, stick to 3-5 as Instagram suggests. If you place them at the end of your caption or in the first comment, you can include 20-30.
Research your hashtags ahead of time (and try them out in the search bar) to make sure you’re not unknowingly joining in on a trend or community that doesn’t align with your brand.
Hashtags can be a great part of a brand’s social listening. Occasionally check in on what people are saying about your brand by looking up popular and potentially related hashtags.
Ready to work on your hashtag strategy? Media Á La Carte has the track record to score you a strategy for success. Schedule a discovery call today and learn how we can work together to make your hashtag strategy work for you.