The Rise Of The Hashtag

May 12th, 2015 by

What was once a neglected key on your keyboard has now been commandeered as a powerful tool to increase engagement on social media. Are you using hashtags correctly?

Over the last several years we’ve all seen the hashtag take life. Before the days of Twitter, only developers used the hashtag (referred to as the ‘pound’ symbol by many) to write complex code.

In today’s marketing world, the hashtag has changed everything. This simple key has connected millions of people around the world. Rich content that at one time in history would be lost among thousands of other articles can now be found thanks to the hashtag.

Note: Hashtags are not just witty remarks to go with a selfie. They do in fact serve a purpose.

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all use hashtags to increase engagement. These simple tips will help you know when and when not to use them:

Use hashtags on Twitter, always

Hashtags started to take off when they were adopted by Twitter users to identify topics. And they continue to increase the social app’s popularity. Using a hashtag on your Tweet will categorize it, helping your targeted audience find what they’re looking for.

Tweets with hashtags outperform Tweets without, 2 to 1. Yes, that is double the engagement (Retweets, replies, favorites) thanks to the hashtag. Tweets with one or more are 55% more likely to be Retweeted, which eventually leads to even more engagement.

The ideal number of hashtags for a Tweet is one or two. In fact, using three or more can actually drop your engagement by 17%.

Instagram hashtags – the more the better

The power of the hashtag has even carried over to one of the fastest-growing social media platforms. Instagram utilizes the hashtag similarly to Twitter in the sense that it categorizes content and helps followers find what they’re looking for.

Many businesses will upload a photo packed with hashtags to increase interaction. These hashtags include brand names, locations, inspiration and keywords associated with the photo.

Unlike with Twitter, research shows that including more hashtags equals more engagement. In fact, having 11 or more is the ideal number if looking to gain interaction with followers – both current and future.

However, there is also going overboard. Adding hashtags for the sake of it, and with pointless references, means any followers that you have are probably going to eventually unfollow you.

The hashtag is not for Facebook

Twitter and Instagram have embraced the hashtag and research proves it. However, our favorite social media platform five years ago doesn’t see the same success when it comes to hashtags.

Facebook utilizes the hashtag, but so far they’ve had no positive effect on posts. In fact, they actually do more harm than good. Not having a hashtag outperforms hashtag-filled posts almost every single time.

Increasing the number of hashtags on a Facebook post will only do more damage. Once you start hitting the 6-10 range of hashtags, your interaction with followers greatly decreases.

Bottom line with Facebook: don’t bring in a single hashtag.

Keep hashtags simple and relevant

Make sure that the hashtags you include are memorable to your audience and will actually encourage them to engage with your content. Keep them relevant to whatever marketing campaign you’re running.

You also want to make sure your hashtags will make sense. Proofread your hashtags to make sure that your audience will actually understand what you’re saying. You never #wanttohavesuchalonghashtagthatnoonecanreadit. If you do need to include multiple words (don’t exceed three), capitalize each word.

Do the necessary research

Before diving in and lacing your Tweet or photo with clever hashtags, do a little research to see what’s currently working.

Find which hashtags your competitor is using and see if they’ve been successful. Check Twitter to see what is currently trending and follow those trends, but don’t try using a hashtag that is linked to a charity or current appeal as they will often backfire.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try creating your own hashtag campaign! This can be tough if you don’t already have tens of thousands of followers (Jimmy Fallon creates his own, but he also has 24.9 million followers). Make sure to get creative and find new ways to connect to your audience.

If you’re looking for a tool to maximize your hashtag success, consider trying out RiteTag. This easy-to-use service guides you to find the perfect hashtags for the content you’re creating.

We are currently experiencing “the rise of the hashtag”. Don’t let this simple marketing technique slip through your fingers as you attempt to increase engagement with your customers. And when it comes down to it, social media is really just about connecting to your audience.

For more marketing tips, follow the WestHost Official Blog!

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