The humble hashtag… maybe it isn’t as humble as we first thought. You see them on every platform you’re on; from the trending topics of Twitter to sponsored posts on Instagram, there seems to be no getting away from them. Some of you may even be wondering if you can never use a hashtag as the sight of them makes you sick. Unfortunately (but really, fortunately!) hashtags could be that one thing missing to take your reach from small to massive.
Let’s take it back to the beginning and find out how hashtags work.
They originated on Twitter, with one savvy web marketing specialist broaching the idea that hashtags should be used to group related Tweets together. Since then, they have exploded into popularity and can be found on every platform.
Most commonly, hashtags are used as an indicator for the mighty algorithm of what a piece of content relates to. This is so users can best find what they’re looking for. Say you’re looking to get your nails done but you have no idea on what design you want, searching ‘#naildesign’ on Instagram brings up over 24 million posts. You’re spoilt for choice, there’s no doubting that, but imagine how much harder it would have been to find all this inspiration without the hashtag?
Further to this, hashtags can be broken down into a few main uses: trend monitoring, trend discovering, conversation starters, brand promotion and calls to action. They are a gateway to more engagement, discoverability, and advocacy for your startup. I know how this all sounds, how can one symbol do so much? It must be too good to be true, right?
Wrong. They are both that good and that true. Did you know that posts with hashtags are twice as likely to get engagement than those without? By adding a single hashtag to the end of a post, or neatly nestled within the main body of the caption, you’re placing your content in front of potential customers.
Well, if that’s the case, I hear you saying, why don’t I make all of my content full of hashtags? Whether they be relevant or not, my popularity will be through the roof in no time! Sadly, that is not the case. The more, the spammier. So, choose your hashtags carefully and make sure they’re both relevant and specific: the best laid hashtags are ones which are short and easy to remember.
Each platform uses hashtags differently and has a differing amount to how many can be used to optimise each post. For a platform like Twitter which has a limited character space, only one or two hashtags are needed to make the most of your Tweets. The same amount goes for LinkedIn and Facebook, even though their posting parameters are much larger. Instagram is the platform where you can get wild with hashtag use with the optimal amount being five to ten.
At blazon, we are sticklers for research and to find the best hashtags for your startup to use, you must get stuck in. Balancing between usage of popular and niche hashtags is the way to go – you want to be seen, but by the right demographic. Knowing which hashtags are popular within your industry allows you to adapt them so they fit your content and keeping a track which ones have been popular previously can help with this too. You don’t want to be rehashing the same content so adjust each post to be fresh and relevant.
Trending hashtags are almost too good to resist. They tap into what’s blowing up in the world and can facilitate a lot of exposure. However, they’re fleeting. As soon as one starts, there’ll be about ten more a few minutes later, so relying on them for long-term engagement won’t work. With trending hashtags, you must seize the moment. So, something like niche hashtags are better for long-term use.
These are ones that relate specifically to your industry and field and target your ideal audience. Use of these will increase the quantity and quality of your followers, and more users who discover your startup through niche hashtags are likelier to become customers. Take an Instagram account like Ticketmaster for example, they share content related to live events. More recently, they have been able to share pictures from music festivals who have had their first run after numerous lockdowns. Posts from these have been tagged with ‘#festivalsareback’ which capitalises on the excitement of fans going to events again whilst prompting others to head to the Ticketmaster website to see when more festivals are happening.
Branded hashtags can be hard to get running but are ultimately important for your startup’s growth. They’re hashtags created by you to represent your brand and serve as a direct line for users to find content specifically related to you. They can simply be the name of your startup, or you can have more fun with them – however, they still need to be professional and not accidentally inappropriate. We all remember the mishap of #SusanAlbumParty.
A further subcategory of branded hashtags are ones that are for certain products or services your company has. You can draw attention to your startup by featuring these and giving them their own, specific hashtag gives your audience a tool to advocate and share it for you.
The final type of hashtag that can really boost your engagement and get people talking is the call-to-action kind. The best example for this one is ‘#ShareACoke’ which utilises the social nature of social media, and the social aspect of humans but still promoting the purchasing of their product.
If the humble hashtag seems no longer humble but a behemoth, get in contact with us and we can help you tame the beast and use it to help your startup grow.