We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it here again: “The hashtag is the most powerful tool in social media.”
Gus has gained a bit of a reputation for his favoritism of the hashtag, as it’s a frequent tool used in his speeches and, heck, it’s even in his Twitter profile photo!
What Does a Hashtag Do?
The hashtag collates the hundreds of thousands of messages which are tweeted and posted every second of every day around conversation topics and keywords. It’s how audiences spread the word at events, how real world communities group together online, and how people, businesses, organizations, and nonprofits brand themselves and improve their bottom lines.
If you still are not sure what a hashtag is, check out Gus's FAQ video.
Hashtags began on Twitter, and they’ve spread to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media platforms. They are most frequently and successfully used on Twitter and Instagram, but they still work, to varying degrees of success, on other platforms.
The Answer to Your Question is Yes
The answer to the question you are thinking right now is: YES.
Yes, you should be using hashtags in your posts and tweets, no matter the platform. If you want to get more awareness, gain audiences, or manage a social media campaign, hashtags are imperative to your success.
Check it before you hashtag it: Before you strategically begin using a hashtag, be sure to check it out on a site like HashAtIt to make sure it is not being used by your competitors. You should also make sure it isn’t connected to any junk you don’t want to be associated with.
See what others are doing with hashtags: Search your industry or geographic area for any and all relevant hashtags your peers and influencers are using. Then begin using those. No need to create what is already successful and has audiences connected to it.
It’s not funny: Don’t use hashtags to call out the punchlines to your jokes. #AintIAStinker might have worked for Bugs Bunny, but it won’t work for you. It chews up valuable real estate in tweets where you’re limited to 140 characters and on other platforms where shorter posts perform better.
Know the numbers: Loading up your content with tons of hashtagged keywords and phrases may seem like a great idea, but it makes you look like a spammer, turning new visitors off. Two to three hashtags work best on tweets and Facebook posts. Studies vary as to what is a sweet spot on Instagram, but we’ve found six to be a good number. We also include the bulk of those hashtags in the first comment to an Instagram post, not in the original caption text.
Use what you abuse: If you are going to use the hashtagged keywords and phrases in your content, be sure to click them and engage with others online who are using the same hashtags. One important aspect of hashtags is community building…so be part of the community!
Be the same everywhere: If you are creating a campaign, theme, or contest revolving around a hashtag be sure you are using the same identification on Twitter as you are on Facebook as you are on Instagram, etc. There’s no reason to quadruple your work if you do’t have to.
Make it easy on the eyes: Our house policy for hashtags and web addresses is to capitalize the first letter of every word to make it easier to read and remember. #HamburgerHeaven is a lot easier to read than #hamburgerheaven, right? Test it with your message and see what you think.
These points are by no means the comprehensive guide on how to use hashtags but they are set up to help you improve your outreach with an important, some say the MOST powerful, tool in social media.
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