Are hashtags helping your brand?

Brands that successfully use hashtags in their social media strategies have higher engagement and increased post reach.

However it is critical to remember that across the board there is no ‘one-way fits all’ approach to using hashtags on social media.

According to Sprout Social, using two or more hashtags on Twitter can negatively affect engagement, but Instagram users can post 10 or more hashtags before they will see a dip in engagement.

Facebook and Twitter are different again, demonstrating that there are no two platforms conforming to the same set of ‘rules’ or ‘guidelines’ as to how many hashtags a brand should use to build awareness.

To get the most out of hashtag marketing, marketers need to define their brand’s goals. Will your brand use hashtags to discover content, or to contribute to a conversation? Depending on your strategy and goals, it may be one or the other at different times, or it may be both for different campaigns. Either way, having a narrow focus enables your team to pinpoint a clear and direct hashtag marketing strategy.

Below are some hashtag marketing tips which we believe are simple and effective ways to boost engagement, build brand awareness and start beneficial conversations around your brand on social media.

  1. Create your own brand hashtag that is short, memorable and includes your brand name. To do this, look at what language is already being used to describe your brand. This hashtag should then be used regularly on an ongoing basis.
  2. Use community hashtags to engage with a larger consumer base. This hashtag should still include the brand name; however it is used with words such as ‘community’ or ‘my’. For example, a furniture brand might add ‘my’ at the beginning of the hashtag, followed by their brand name. This would be used to encourage consumers to use the hashtag and post photos of their purchased products. This creates user-generated content, one of the most effective ways to build engagement on social media.
  3. Monitor and use trending hashtags to be a part of trending conversations. These conversations are often fast-paced, short lived and unpredictable, however they are a great way to show consumers your brand is relevant and up to date on trending issues. This could include anything from international and national holidays to a breaking news story that has relevance to your brand.
  4. Use social listening to track conversations around specific conversation to identify what hashtags are most commonly used in reference to your brand. This allows marketers to adjust and realign strategies to ensure your brand is achieving the greatest engagement online.
  5. Only use relevant hashtags to reduce the chances of appearing as spam in a user’s feed. Using irrelevant ones may spike engagement, but the engagement itself is not relevant to your brand and will not produce meaningful leads. For example, adding hashtags such as #smile #fun #pretty may get you one off likes, however users don’t learn anything about your brand from a meaningless tag and this will not keep them engaged. Such hashtags may also turn off current followers as it can appear like spam in their newsfeed.

Although there is no universal way to use hashtags, we recommend the following approach when using hashtags on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Facebook
  • Keep your hashtags to a minimum of one to two to achieve the best engagement. This reduces the chances of a business page appearing as spam in a user’s feed.
Twitter
  • On average, tweets see 21% more engagement when one to two hashtags have been used, and they are more likely to generate re-tweets. Once three or more hashtags are used, there is a 17% decline in engagement.
Instagram
  • There is no limit to the amount of hashtags that can be posted on Instagram; however brands who post ten or more hashtags are more likely to receive higher engagement. It is recommended to use hashtags on every Instagram post to consistently generate engagement, however ensure those used genuinely reflect the post, your brand and your vision.
LinkedIn
  • Use Hashtags in your business profile to gain greater visibility across the platform. For general posts and articles on LinkedIn Publisher use one to two hashtags for best results.