In 2007, a blogger and product consultant named Chris Messina tweeted that Twitter should start using a number sign (also known as an octothorpe or the pound sign) as a way to store metadata tags that were searchable on the platform. The pound sign quickly became known as the “Hashtag” and would be used before a word or a phrase of words that users could generate to group-specific tweets together.
While Twitter originally was hesitant about the hashtag, the #sandiegofire tag later in the year showed how versatile and useful the system could be. Since then, the hashtag has spread to nearly all social media platforms and has become a big part of influencer marketing.
This post will cover the basics of what hashtags are, their importance in social media, and how you can use them to grow your accounts.
There are several reasons you should consider using hashtags as a part of your brand-building strategy. They allow your audience to find and connect with you as well as quickly show people what you’re all about. Here are a few ways that hashtags can help:
Basic Tips for Hashtags
When creating your own hashtag, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
Hashtag Tips by Platform
While hashtags are used in basically the same way on all social platforms, there will be some variances on how they will show up and how your followers will interact with them. We’ll cover each of the main social networks to help you get your feet wet:
There are many potential benefits to using your hashtags correctly. Here are a few:
1. Brand Building and Relevancy
Whether you want to build a business brand or you are working as an influencer, you know that it is important to know your target audience’s interests. As you continually produce meaningful content in your niche, you can add hashtags to be found or gain relevancy.
Not only should you use relatable niche hashtags, but you should use your own branding in 1-2 on each post. Whether it is your brand name or your motto or tagline, over time, these could gain searches as you become better known within your niche.
In fact, as others interact with your brand and purchase your products or services, they may begin to use the hashtags too as a way to show excitement, bringing even more relevancy to your brand.
2. Context to Other Posts
On social posts, space is often limited. Even when there is ample space, it is best to keep captions shorter so that people are more likely to read it. Hashtags can help. Over time, many hashtags have gained a meaning that encompasses a thought or a feeling. Using one instantly gives your readers an idea of what your post is about.
Think of your hashtags as simple things you would type into Google. Keep any phrases concise and clear. These types of tags will help your viewers gain context with fewer words and characters.
3. Community Building Through Engagement
When a hashtag begins to trend within your niche, capitalize on it. The hashtag will be searched more often and posting a few times a day could greatly bring in new followers. It is important to have a clear understanding of what the hashtag means and ensure that you are posting the correct type of content.
Following trends is a good way to keep up with what is going on on a larger scale. As you grow, you will have more relevance in what is happening in your genre on the social platform through these trending posts. In fact, you may someday start a social media trend yourself.
You can also show solidarity for social issues in the same way. Whether it is a trending issue or you want to support a cause or charity, you can always find the right hashtags to stand with others.
4. Strong Keywords Show Up in Search Results
Hashtags are one of the most common ways to grow on social media. People will constantly search for key terms to find new people to follow. As long as your content seems to match the meaning of the term, you should be able to find a few followers with the right hashtags.
You can often find good hashtags by looking at what your competitors are doing, but you can also use a tool to help you narrow down the best terms for your post. Since you shouldn’t overdo the tags, having the extra help could streamline the process and help you grown much quicker on the social platform.
There are a few strategies you use to look for the best hashtags. You can also use a tool to help you narrow down the best ones for your niche. Here are a few things you can do:
1. Pay Attention to Trends Within Your Niche
You will find that there will often be trends within your niche. Your target audience will become enthralled with an item or an idea and will want to see anything related to it.
One way to do this is simply by paying attention to multiple other accounts in your niche. Look at what hashtags they are using and check to see how much interaction they seem to be getting. If you do this diligently, you will recognize patterns over time that you can tap into to push yourself ahead.
You can also use a tool (such as RiteTag) that will give you suggestions based on what you are uploading. Some of these tools will even make researching what the tag means quicker and easier.
2. Look for Hashtags Related to Your Content
When looking for trends on your competition’s posts, look for hashtags that are commonly used within your niche. While you may not want to use all of these, they may give you an idea of where to start. You should also look for tags that are related to those key terms to potentially give yourself a larger chance of being found by your target audience.
If your social media platform has in-built hashtag tracking tools, look at them frequently. They should tell you what is trending on the platform as well as what is trending in your niche. Use any information you find to strategize how you can grow your influence.
3. Track Your Success
Pay attention to which hashtags seem to help you be discovered by new followers. While you shouldn’t overuse some of the key terms, you can use them on your best posts in the week to give you a chance of going viral.
Whether you choose to use an analytics tool or track everything yourself using spreadsheets, it is a good idea to add this step to your social media process, even if you have to schedule it as a part of your workflow.
4. Use an App or Keyword Tool
One of the easiest ways to find the best hashtags is by using a tool that was specifically created to find them. While there are several on the market, look for one that you can afford that has high ratings. Ideally, you will want to use a product that can help you in multiple ways.
Here is a list of our favorite tools to use when searching for hashtags or relevant keywords for social media:
Hashtagify.me allows you to search for specific hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. It will give you insight on how popular the hashtag is, how it is trending, and whether it thinks you can get engagement from it. It also tracks your performance for you.
Hootsuite allows you to monitor specific hashtags and track how well they have done for you in the past. It also searches similar accounts to give you ideas on how you can improve your own hashtag use.
Twitonomy will help you analyze hashtags on any account. It will also give you the analytics behind them as well as track your own progress so that you can see what is working for you.
RiteTag will give you hashtag suggestions based on the content that you upload to your social media. It will also help you determine which will work for immediate growth versus what will work for long-term growth.