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How To Use Hashtags Effectively

The hashtag – is it a tool, or making you look like one?

When used properly, a hashtag is a nifty little trick to bind your social media marketing campaigns together across multiple networks. When used improperly, they’re just plain #irritating. It’s not simply a case of guess work or putting a hashtag in front of any old word, you have to understand what users are talking about and responding to. A look at the data gives a good insight into how to best choose a hashtag and make it work for you.

Hashtags started on Twitter, but are common across pretty much all social networks as well as every day speech.  Anyone can create a hashtag about anything. They are an incredibly simple feature that maximises on a powerful marketing concept. If you see a hashtag on a TV commercial, an advertising billboard or product packaging you instinctively know that searching for said hashtag online will provide you with more information and understanding about the promotion. Whether it’s a new product, a service, an international event or charitable donation, the hashtag is vital for sharing knowledge and awareness. 

We’ll start with how to use them on Twitter. Tweets with one or two hashtags get double the engagement than those without. Importantly though, you mustn’t break the two hashtag rule as any more than this results in a drop in engagement by 17%.

Perhaps due to the constrictive nature of a tweet’s 140 characters, people like click through links. This may be a modern manifestation of the age old human desire to move forward, jump to the next thing, see what’s behind the corner and our curiosity to discover more...or it may just be to do with office procrastination. Either way, tweets with a hashtag AND link perform particularly well, with 92% of engagement being measured as link clicks. The hashtag signals what you’re promoting but the link is vital for showing more information and explanation.

On Facebook however, it’s quite a different tale. Here be warned about gratuitous hashtagging; research has found that initially Facebook posts with hashtags had less engagement than those without. For Facebook, it’s a double-edged sword in that you need the hashtag to unite your campaign across multiple platforms and should use it where appropriate, but certainly do so with a little caution. Keep it to one hashtag, two at the most, and use them wisely and skilfully as opposed to just ‘because I can’.

According to marketing analyst Vishal Pindoriya, you shouldn’t be discounting Google+. He notes that “if you post on G+, even if you don't use a hashtag, your post is automatically assigned a hashtag and made searchable through the largest search engine in the world. Are you really going to disregard that? Google does more behind the scenes than they do on stage in front of everyone, and the same is true of G+. With hashtags, they are working overtime. Even if you don't use a hashtag in a post on Google+, Google assigns at least one to your post using the post text and the headline of the link if there is one. Then they organise hashtags by category and add them to Google's searchable database, as well as using them to compile trending topics like Twitter and Facebook.”

Instagram is the anomaly when it comes to hashtags. Whilst other sites seem to favour a 'less is more' approach, on the photo-sharing platform more is more. This may be because the user-ship is particularly youthful and haven’t tired of hashtags just yet, or that the focus on the image means that hashtagging words and phrases compensates for the lack of written communication. You can upload pictures with an infinite number of hashtags, and it’s been found that the posts with the highest number of interactions have 11 or more hashtags. So go hashtag crazy (as long as your street cred and sense of personal dignity can handle it, that is).

Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.
How To Use Hashtags Effectively Reviewed by Anonymous on Monday, August 04, 2014 Rating: 5
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