How to Use Hashtags to Build Your Brand and Get More Followers
The number symbol, pound key on your phone, tic-tac-toe grid. Whatever you want to call it, this character is more commonly referred to as the hashtag today. While it wasn’t void of use-cases before, it wasn’t until its rise in popularity on Twitter that allowed the symbol to grow into what it is today in the world of social networks. Hashtags can help you find and grow your audience, make your content more easily found on social networks, be a helpful aid in marketing campaigns, and more.
Below, we’re going to fill you in on what the hashtag is and how to use them on social networks like a boss!
What is a hashtag?
Put simply, a hashtag is simply the US pound sign or number symbol. The hashtag, as it’s referred to today is also the same, but it’s accompanied by a word or phrase without spaces, punctuation markers, or special characters. It’s used to highlight a social post or to find other posts that use the same hashtag.
The hashtag was first suggested in a Tweet by Chris Messina on Twitter in 2007.
“how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”
While Twitter didn’t immediately embrace the use of the hashtag, it began to take off amongst the platform’s users during the San Diego Witch Creek Fire of 2007, when #sandiegofire was used to keep people updated about the happenings and evacuations taking place.
Now, hashtags are used to help a post on social media stand out and get discovered by lots of people, regardless of whether they’re “following” you or not. In that sense, hashtags are a sort of universal language that transcend the normal barriers of what non-followers can see from a social handle.
Why are hashtags important?
Hashtags can help you reach the people who want to see the content you’re producing and can help you find the niche community you’re interested in.
For example, if you’re a film reviewer and you want to share your latest review of Midsommar on social media, it would be a smart movie to add the title of the movie in hashtag form. This will let others searching for the same hashtag find your social posts more easily.
Since Midsommar is a horror movie, any fan of the genre may be interested in your post, even if they weren't specifically looking for that movie title. Adding #HorrorMovies to the social post as well helps you capture that additional buzz.
The Tweet for your movie review could look like this:
Don’t go overboard, though! Once you get an idea of how to use hashtags, it can be easy to go overboard with them. We'll detail the ideal number of hashtags per social network below. In the meantime, just know that for some channels, less is more.
As discussed above, adding hashtags to your social posts allow you to get your content seen by those searching for that hashtag — and they don’t need to be following you to do so. That said, there are multiple types of hashtags to be on the lookout for.
Content hashtags: Hashtags that are closely associated with the content of your social posts.
Trending hashtags: Hashtags that are being used by several users at a certain time.
Brand-specific hashtags: Hashtags that are used by a brand for branding or marketing campaign purposes.
How to properly use hashtags on social networks
Hashtags are not treated equally across all social networks, though a majority support hashtags. Below, you’ll find out how to properly use hashtags on social networks, as well as the ideal number to use per post.
Twitter is the place that hashtags got their start, so it may be assumed that it’s okay to use them in excess. Well, you’d be sorely mistaken. The ideal number of hashtags per Tweet is 1-2. Placement of hashtags is up to you, however. They can be added to the end or incorporated into the Tweet itself.
Hashtags on Instagram can be used more liberally than on Twitter. In fact, it’s pretty much the expectation. The optimal number of hashtags to use is anywhere from 9-15, but 11 seems to be the sweet spot for many accounts.
Also unlike Twitter, placement of hashtags in Instagram posts is a little more important. While you certainly can incorporate hashtags into your posts, it’s not suggested or practiced too often. Many add space between their post caption, and then add the hashtags further below, or add a comment with the hashtags. You can also add hashtags within your Instagram bio as well, if you so choose.
For Pinterest, you can use anywhere from 1-20 hashtags. In fact, you can’t add any more than 20. Hashtags are displayed within the Pin’s description, and depending on the length, may be hidden. Don’t worry, though - they’re still doing their thing and generating attention for your post.
Facebook and LinkedIn
You can most definitely use hashtags within both Facebook and Instagram, but there isn’t much benefit. However, if you do choose to, you should stick around 1-2 hashtags per post.
There are quite a few tools to find the perfect hashtags, but before we jump into those, here are a couple of other places you can get inspiration.
If you’ve done enough research on your industry across socials networks, you’ll probably have found influencers that cater to an audience that’s similar to yours. Go through their feeds and check out the hashtags they use in their posts. It’s important to take note of the niche hashtags that are highly specific - yet extremely relevant - to your industry or content. The overuse of generic and very popular hashtags will only get you lost in a sea of similar posts.
If you’ve already identified the influencers in your industry, you should be more than a little familiar with your competition. There’s a good chance that the content they’re producing won’t be too far off from your own. Look to their posts and find unique hashtags that maybe you wouldn’t have thought of and try them out.
Find similar posts
Technically speaking, similar posts could be either competitor or influencer posts. That said, if you have a hashtag that you know you’re going to use within one of your social posts, search that hashtag specifically and see if there’s a pattern to how it’s used. You might be surprised by what you find.
There are a variety of hashtag tools that you can use on the internet. Check out some of our favorites below.
Hashtagify Me (Twitter)
If you’re looking to dive in deep to find the perfect hashtag or research current trending hashtags, Hashtagify.me is a great place to do both. The main page will give you two options to choose from. You can either enter a hashtag and search for similar ones, or you can type or paste your whole tweet into the search box to get suggestions for appropriate hashtags. This is only a partially free service, so you’ll only get the full power of Hashtagify.me if you subscribe to a paid plan.
All Hashtag (Instagram)
All-hashtag.com is another great tool to do some exploring to find the best hashtags for your posts. Upon first entering the site, you’re presented with a search box. Enter a term or subject, and then select one of the subcategories that include live, random, and top. The results will give hashtag suggestions pertaining to your subject, but also under the lens of your subcategory. There’s also an Analytics page that will let you see the popularity, average hits, and more on the hashtag you search for. Finally, the Charts page shows the top hashtags used over the past month, week, day, and all time.
Display Purposes is one of our favorite hashtag research tools. It’s easy to use and can be a powerful asset to finding the perfect hashtags for your posts. There are three main features of the site, and all are very insightful.
Search - The cool thing about the standard search that you can add multiple terms separated by a space and you will receive a column for each term, displaying the top hashtags for each. However, there’s a box above the results that allows you to easily copy a combination of hashtags that span across all terms, and any duplicate hashtags that are associated with multiple terms will be removed.
Map - Allows you to zoom into a specific area on the map to see popular local hashtags within an area. It even shows the specific location (sans physical address) that the terms are used.
Graph - Lastly is one you’ll have a lot of fun with. It’s the graph section and not only will it give you some great insight to see how interconnected some terms are, but it’s also fun to explore, too! We’ll continue with the horror movie term from above to show the utter coolness of this feature.
By Blake Stimac
Wix Blog Writer