Here are a few best practices to help you achieve that success.
How to Use Hashtags (DO!)
Do be specific when using hashtags
Try and hone in on a passionate community that shares an interest in one specific theme. The more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be—and a targeted audience generally means better engagement. If you don’t have your own business hashtag, find one or two existing ones that really fit the photo.
Say, for example, your business sells baby products. Instead of using #parents—resulting in parents of children of all ages—opt for #newmom. The hashtag #newmom is specific to mothers of newborns—your target customer.
Do cater hashtags to the social network you’re using
While hashtags on all social networks have the same fundamental purpose of content tagging and discovery, the use of hashtags still varies by network.
As we explain in our post, The Complete Instagram Hashtag Guide for Business, hashtags on the photo- and video-sharing platform are often more focused on description of the content. This is at odds with Twitter, where hashtags tend to be more focused a topic of conversation, or a group of people (a chat for example) that you would like to engage.
Before using hashtags, do research on the proper way to use them for that particular network. Most networks will have guides for hashtag selection and use (here’s Twitter’s, and again, our own for Instagram).
Also take the time to discover the most popular and most relevant hashtags on a specific subject for each network. This extra time you invest will pay off in engagement down the road.
Do come up with relevant, unbranded hashtags
Brand hashtags don’t have to (read: shouldn’t) mention your brand name, but should represent your brand and what you stand for.
Destination British Columbia created the hashtag #exploreBC. The tourism company uses it to share scenic photos of the Canadian province taken by their employees and the community.
Seeing photos from regular people on the official Destination British Columbia account quickly prompted more of their followers to embrace the hashtag and share their own photos. As such, the company has created a growing movement that supplies them with fantastic, follower-generated content to use on their social accounts.
How not to Use Hashtags (Don’t.)
Don’t go too long or too clever
In general, if you’re creating a branded hashtag you should try to keep it short and sweet. Even though “#AvocadoToastLovers” might target a very specific audience, no one will use the hashtag because they just don’t want to type in that many characters.
You also don’t want to try and be too clever or offbeat (#avocadotoasterstrudel) since you want people to naturally search for your tag. Hashtags are supposed to make things easier to find and engage with, but long, complicated hashtags can actually be more arduous. In this case, you’re better off with something like #avocadotoast or even, #avotoast.
Don’t have more hashtags than words
In fact, don’t even come close. Social media users often used an excessive amount of hashtags ironically or when making a joke.
But many Instagram users have also caught onto the fact that more hashtags can mean more reach and likes. So, they’ve overloaded their photos with as many hashtags as they’re allowed—which is reportedly 30. You don’t want to use 30 hashtags on a single post. You don’t even want to use five hashtags on a single post. Even if you gain followers, it’s often the wrong kind of follower—spammers or people only interested in being followed back. It generally dilutes your message and comes off as desperate. Focus instead on being specific, which we already explained above.