What’s the Use of Social Media Hashtags? We Get the #Facts

In this digital age, social media has become a sure-fire way to boost brand awareness, generate leads and acquire new customers. But social media is competitive, and with so much content to consume, it’s easy for your posts to get lost amongst the noise. However, there is a way to make sure your target audience has a better chance of seeing you, and that’s with hashtags. 

You may remember when this symbol (#) was most commonly found on the bottom right button of a landline phone. But, the first hash symbol actually appeared back in 1988, when it was used on Internet Chats to label groups and topics with similar messages and content to make it easy for users to find information; social media essentially uses hashtags the same way. 

How Hashtags Work

Hashtags are used at the bottom of a post caption and precede a keyword to categorise content and make it more discoverable. 

More views on your post means more eyes on your brand, which ultimately equals more engagement and more sales. 

Effectively, hashtags are a ‘show me more’ button in social media. They mark your posts so people who want to see more content like yours can find it, even if they don’t follow your business. 

For example, if you were interested in health and fitness, you might follow the hashtag #healthyliving, #fitspo or #weightlossjourney. This means any account that creates a post with these will have a much higher chance of appearing on a user’s social media feed. 

Why You should Use Hashtags

Using hashtags means you can scale your reach and impact with little effort by allowing your brand to appear for those with similar interests.

This is a crucial step on the customer journey map as hashtags are a gateway for users to find your business, click through to your profile, like your page, share and interact with your content and purchase your product. 

Where Hashtags are Most Valuable

Caption space is valuable real estate, so you don’t want to clog up your posts with useless or semi-relevant hashtags. You have to be strategic, concise and targeted. 

For example, if you’re selling vegan food under the company name ‘Bill’s Vegan Meals,’ you want to use a hashtag like #eatvegan  #crueltyfree #plantbased and #veganism, not things like #reducereuserecycle or #cleanenergy. 

While these might contribute to your overarching ideals, these aren’t directly related. Therefore they are just wasting valuable marketing real estate on your post. 

Another important thing to remember is not to make them too long. Putting a hashtag at the beginning of a sentence is practically useless and makes things nearly impossible to decipher. Avoid things like #chooseveganbecauseitsbetterfortheplanet or #stopanimalcrueltybyeatingvegan 

User Beware

While it might seem like using as many hashtags as possible is the best way to get maximum engagement, we can promise you it’s not. Less is often more. 

Overusing them can actually have the opposite effect by making your post look less appealing, and sometimes like spam. It also makes your post less targeted and, therefore, not as likely to appear on a potential customer’s feed.  

One of the most important rules is not to use a hashtag just because it’s popular. We see it time and time again where someone puts a hashtag on their post just because it’s ‘trending’ or popular. Chances are, if it’s not super relevant to your business, most people will scroll right past your post. 

Types of Hashtags

There are 3 main types of hashtags you can use for your business: 

  1. Product or service hashtags: These hashtags relate to the product and service that a business offers. Usually, these hashtags are quite general. These could include things like #veganfood or #meatfree
  2. Industry or niche hashtags: These types of hashtags represent a peculiar industry or niche.  Examples could be  #sustainablysourced #allnatural 
  3.  Branded & campaign hashtags: This is where you create a tag specifically for your brand name or campaign. This could be something like #billsveganmeals #veganforlife 

Do your #Homework

As with any marketing strategy, you need to do your research to make sure you’re targeting the right words. 

The quickest way to check for high-performing hashtags relevant to your brand is by checking the hashtags that competitors, influencers and brands like yours are using. This gives you valuable insight into the reach you might get for the hashtag as well as how competitive it is.

Need help with your hashtags? Our social media specialists can help. Speak to the team at 80/20 Digital today to see how we can drive real results for your business through a tailored organic or paid social media strategy.

By Abbey Faulkner 

80/20 Digital's Content & SEO Specialist, Abbey Faulkner is dedicated to staying on top of industry trends and putting her creativity to good use for her clients. She combines her expertise in media and writing to boost rankings, improve brand awareness, increase engagement and generate leads across clients' websites, email marketing and social media.