If you’re on any social media, you’ve encountered the infamous #hashtag a few times. These little links proceeded by the pound-sign are more than just a way of prettifying a tweet; they’re actually an easy-to-use means of tracking and organizing topics on social media platforms. Any combination of characters with a hash in front of them, and no spaces between, are automatically transformed into a link. Clicking on it will navigate users to other posts using that same hashtag. For example, including #NationalCoffeeDay, or #Daytona500 in your Facebook post will allow others to see that post when they search for that topic.
The primary benefit of using hashtags is that it’s a free way of putting your content onto a larger stage, giving people who don’t follow you yet a chance to see it. Whether you want to help people find #NYCRealEstate, or you have an insightful comment on #GameOfThrones, more people will know if you hashtag it. Furthermore, if you have an event or promotion you want to start trending, creating your own hashtag will consolidate all of your content on the subject, while also giving your followers an easy way to help spread the word!
If you’re nervous about proper hashtag etiquette, here are some best practices to start you out:
Simplify Research shows that having more than two hashtags on a Facebook post or tweet, or more than 9 on Instagram, actually decreases interest. Shorter hashtags are always more effective than long ones as well, so watch your character count!
Specify Your hashtags should always be relevant to what you’re talking about. Make sure you don’t use unrelated hashtags, and try to be more specific when possible. More people are interested in #BigBangTheory than #TV.
Be Sensitive While it’s important to get your name out there, don’t be the guy who crashes a #NaturalDisaster to talk about how great your product is. When considering when to use a trending hashtag, make sure to read the room first.
Using hashtags effectively isn’t difficult, which is why it became so popular in the first place. Even if you don’t like how they look, embracing the humble hashtag is the best way to take your social media from an audience of ten to a circle of ten-thousand.