How Hashtags Actually Work

Hashtags are one of the fundamental components of growing your online audience; but how do they really work?

A hashtag is an essential feature you need to be taking advantage of when using any social media. You can’t always rely on the algorithm to make your posts get the attention they deserve.

In this blog, we are going to answer the question of how hashtags actually work as well as how you should be using them on each social media platform.

What are hashtags and do they actually work?

Hashtags or as they are more commonly seen, #, are ways of distinguishing content into specific topics.

The easiest way to understand hashtags is to think of them as a search filter. If people are looking for a specific type of content, let’s say cats, for example, then they would search using #cats or hashtags along similar lines (#catvideos #cutecats #kittens). The user can then find content that is, or at least is related to, what they’re looking for. This can also be helpful on the flip side as it can bring new people to your content.

Hashtags have the ability to broaden the number of people that can see your content when used correctly. What’s more, they won’t just be random people but your target audience.

So the more hashtags you use that are relevant to the content you are posting the more traffic you are going to see.

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How to use hashtags for Instagram

It is recommended that you use between 15-25 different hashtags to grow your account. It goes without saying that the more hashtags you include in a post the more people you are likely to reach. However, too many hashtags can make your posts seem cluttered, leaving your audience with a negative feel towards the post.

Instagram is also very good at identifying pages that copy and paste hashtags. You may have read some blogs where people have recommended that you have a collection of hashtags saved in your notes and you just paste them into the post. This will save you time but it may lead your page to be flagged as spam as well as the algorithm punishing you. This will make it much more difficult for your posts to be received by your following.

Try not to use hashtags that are too popular but also aren’t too quiet. This sounds tricky but not understanding that by choosing the wrong hashtags your post will likely be lost in the sea of content that is added every minute. Instead, try and make your own hashtag or change up an existing popular hashtag to fit your post. It’s all about finding the sweet spot between the overused and underused.

There is a lot of conflict over whether hashtags should be included in the caption of a post or added after into the comments. However, according to Instagram’s Creator account, they’ve said you should include them in the caption “NOT” the comments.

How to use hashtags for Facebook

Unlike Instagram more hashtags ≠ more interaction. A study by Social Bakers found that posts with 1-2 hashtags achieved, on average, 405 more interactions than posts with over 10 hashtags. Suggesting that you should limit the number of hashtags you use on Facebook.

From what we have found Facebook hashtags haven’t caught on as well as Instagram. We do recommend however that you do your own testing. One week post with one or two hashtags on each post and the next week don’t use any hashtags. If one drastically overperforms stick with that method.

How to use hashtags for Twitter

Twitter is a slightly different social media to Instagram or Facebook. It’s centred much more around conversations and people interacting with each other. You need to make your hashtags easy to read and easy to type; leaving no room for spelling mistakes. This ensures that anyone reading your post will easily be able to use and follow your hashtag.

Twitter also has its Retweet feature. A business can use this to it’s advantage by using it as a prize. Saying that anyone using the hashtag will get a Retweet usually leads to more people using your hashtag for recognition.

Similarly to Facebook 1-2 hashtags is the sweet spot. It doesn’t look cluttered or confusing for the person viewing your post.

How to use hashtags for TikTok

Tiktok has the benefit of having constantly changing trends. This means that if you get on the latest trend quick enough then your post is less likely to be lost in the sea content under that hashtag.

What’s more, is that most TikToks are 15 seconds long. Meaning that consumers can rattle through content much quicker than when they’re going through their Facebook feed for example. This means that more content is consumed giving your posts a higher odds to be seen.

It is recommended that you include no more than 5 hashtags. It’s important to use a mixture of trending hashtags, your niche hashtags as well as awareness hashtags.

Some people also believe that using the hashtag ‘#foryoupage’ or ‘#fyp’ can make your post more successful. However, this has not been confirmed nor denied by Tiktok. It’s worth testing to find out how well it works for you.

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Which hashtags to use?

There are a few things you need to consider when choosing your hashtag strategy, the first being what your niche is. What unique interest are you going to push hard on? This is unique for every brand and what allows consumers to distinguish between brands that produce similar products or services. These types of hashtags need to fit the industry that your brand operates in.

Another option is what your brand sells. This could be #sweets or #handbags for example. This hashtag is going to be appealing to people that are looking for a specific item. So if someone was trying to find handbags they would search for the hashtag and see your product listed under that ‘category.’

Location is another popular one. Including a hashtag of your location is often very useful for the same reason as including what your product is. It gets people looking for brands in their local area.

Trending or popular hashtags are a little more tricky to use. They are used far more frequently than any other hashtag, this can mean that your content is lost in all the other posts. The hashtags with hundreds of posts being added an hour are often ones to avoid.

More info

If you’re looking for more information about how to grow your social media presence quickly then have a read of the blog here written by Jude, our marketing expert.

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