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How to Use #Hashtags on Social Media

Turn #’s into $ for your business

The idea of the hashtag was first discussed in 2007 for Twitter. Chris Messina suggested hashtags as a tool to help users search for specific content and to categorise their posts. Since 2007, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and Google+ have all adopted the feature. 

Eleven years later, the humble hashtag has been developed into a tool for marketing and mass promotion. Using hashtags has become a great way to expand your reach outside of your network and engage with a broader audience, as well as to increase brand recognition and awareness. 

Social media users can effortlessly locate others who have used the same hashtag as them or to discover content of interest to them #melbournefoodie. Hashtags are a simple way to draw attention to your content, and if the right ones are used, your relevant audience will be drawn to your profile.

You can easily tap into a community of likeminded people, but you can also build one. Brands often create their own unique hashtag in which they encourage their audience to use when sharing relevant content (eg. about their brand or image/lifestyle). 

Now that you understand the use of hashtags, how can you utilise them to boost traffic to your page?

Research

The purpose of the hashtag is to generate the widest reach to your audienceThere is no point in using generic hashtags, such as #picoftheday, that casts a huge net but to an audience not interested or suitable for your business. 

Therefore, it’s key to understand your target audience and know how to attract them to you. If researched correctly, this can lead to a huge increase in traffic, views and followers to your page.

        Who is your audience (age, gender, location)? 

       •  Where are they (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)? 

       •  What are their interests? 

It’s important to note that these answers aren’t necessarily the same as your customer profile. Each social platform attracts a different user, so it is important to choose the right social media channels for your business and then understand which of your customers you’re reaching on each platform. It is likely you’ll need a slightly altered social strategy for each platform you choose. 

Key words

The best type of hashtag is one that is simple, easy to use and find, as well as being consistent. If a business wants people to use their tagline instead of using their business name, then they themselves must use that hashtag on every post. The more users using the company’s hashtag, the wider the reach. For example, Kit Kat uses #haveabreak, which has over 181k posts.

By using specific hashtags, you are also filtering out a lot of posts irrelevant to you and your audience, making it more relevant and accessible. By creating your own branded hashtags, you could attract more followers and engagement, or start a movement. 

Follow online trends

Majority of social media sites have “explore” or “trending now” pages, showing popular hashtags and any correlating movements that are trending at that time. 

Discovering trending hashtags can help you understand today’s trends so you can create relevant, on-trend content, and also tap into a popular hashtag to expose your content to many more eyes. 

Don’t use too many

Instagram will allow up to 30 hashtags per post. So, this means you should use 30 #’s on every photo to maximise engagement, right? Not true. The use of relevant hashtags is far more important, to reach the right audiences. Getting half the amount of likes and comments from a relevant audience is much more beneficial for your business. 

Spamming your audience with too many hashtags can cause users to lose interest or unfollow you. It gives the impression that all you care about is gaining likes and followers, rather than being genuine and fulfilling their wants and needs.

Example

Business: Nike

Customers: Aged 13+, male and female, global 

Interests: Sports, fitness, running, active wear, healthy lifestyle, health and wellness

Slogan: Just Do It

Suitable hashtags: #nike #justdoit #activelife #nikerunning #nikesport 

There are many ways to draw your target audience to your profiles, hashtags are just one area to consider. For maximum engagement and understanding how to grow your followers on social media, it is important to explore the many different features and strategies you could be utilising within each platform suitable for your business.

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