5 July 2017

Hashtag Basics

what are hashtags, how do I hashtag, lifestyle blog, hampshire blog

"hashtag"
noun
plural noun: hashtags
a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic.

Hashtags are the key to finding topics on platforms like Twitter and Instagram - they are also the key to putting your business ‘out there’ and making sure your reach is widened through the use of online tags. Most of us know what hashtags are and what they do, but what a few of us still haven’t sussed is how to use hashtags to benefit our accounts.

If a treat falls in the middle of the forest, but there was no one there to see or hear it - did it ever really fall? The same goes for your content. If you put out the most amazing content, but don’t tell anyone about it - how will the people interested know you have content, products, services out there? And whilst many platforms allow searches to come back with simple text, some platforms like Instagram work on hashtags, locations, and account names. So unless you hashtag your photos, your potential audience who can turn into customers or readers, just won’t see it. Simples really.

OK, so hashtags are important. We get it. But how do you use hashtags to their best ability?

Search For Topics: Use the hashtags to search for topics which you are interested in, and may be beneficial for your own accounts. I often see people on Instagram trying to be clever and coming up with really long hashtags, for example something like ‘creativityisamazingandilovemyjob’ - great, but that is 1 hashtag on the platform and no one is ever going to find you through that. Instead, why not try #creatives (690,372 tags); #mycreativebiz (642,367 tags); #lovemyjob (12,352,692 tags). And smaller community tags like #creativetime which has 32,400 tags. It’s beneficial to add some big tags, and smaller hashtags to join different social communities.

Promote Your Business: Once you’ve researched your hashtags, you can start applying them to your own posts. Hashtags on Instagram are very important, and one way I keep track of what I’m doing is to save 30 hashtags on a specific topic in my notes, then copy and paste them in the comment underneath. Actually let’s take a second here - I am still seeing so many accounts who ‘spam’ their own captions by adding 30 hashtags in them. Just copy your tags into the comment box below! It makes you feed nice and tidy, and hides the hashtags. It’s a pet peeve. Almost as bad as accounts who think it’s OK to type out a link in your Instagram caption. Guys, Instagram doesn't support links unless they’re in your bio, and you can’t even copy and paste those links so please stop. It’s frustrating because you want to go to the webpage/blog post, but you physically can’t! But that’s a whole other topic.

Advertise Events: Most events will have their own hashtag - this is a brilliant way to collect photos from all different accounts, find out who’s at the event, follow it, and make more social media connections. And it's not just corporate event but weddings, birthday parties, engagements - it can literally be any event!

Create Your Own Hashtag: Whether it's a new product launch, an event, or a movement you can create your own hashtags and watch the community grow. Make sure to talk about it and encourage others to jump on that hashtag, again it's all about clear communication and ensuring your audience have a call to action to follow!

And how many hashtags should you use on your platforms? Well, there’s a quick guide for that.

Instagram: 11-30 hashtags
Facebook: 1-2 hashtags
Twitter: 1-2 hashtags

Hashtag Fails: Before I let you go, let's take a second to think about all the hashtag fails which have happened in the history of social media. Although hashtags are brilliant, research and common sense is very important when it comes to talking about a topic on social media. Remember #susanalbumparty? Yep, that didn't go quite as planned but obviously got people talking. It was supposed to read as Susan (Boyle) Album Party, but instead... well you can see for yourself. Or #Cairo - a brand trying to jump on the bandwagon of a trending hashtag with their newly launches fashion line when it fact #Cairo was trending in the midst of the Egyptian Revolution. Viewers were horrified. So please, use a little common sense and do your research to avoid hashtags going horribly wrong!

Do you have a hilarious hashtag fail story? I'd love to laugh along with you - comment with your stories below!
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