Not all hashtags are created equal.

Hashtags are all over social media — if you know what #tbt, #wcw, and #ootd mean, you already have one foot in the door. The primary function of the hashtag is to label your content, making it more accessible to interested users.

When executed properly, incorporating hashtags into your marketing strategy can help build awareness and promote engagement. But each social platform has its own set of rules, so it’s important to learn the basics before going hashtag-crazy.

Facebook

For the most part, hashtags on Facebook haven’t really caught on. In fact, a study from Socialbakers shows that there may even be some decrease in engagement when a page uses multiple hashtags, since they tend to look spammy.

However, we recommend doing a bit of experimentation to find the sweet spot for your brand. Try incorporating one or two relevant hashtags into your posts throughout the week, and see how your followers respond.

Twitter

Hashtags are more useful on Twitter, since users can find and participate in conversations by searching for a specific trending topic. But it’s still best to stick to one or two hashtags for the best results: after all, the main focus of your tweet should be your thoughtfully crafted (now 280-character!) message, with hashtags that support the content rather than detracting from it.

Instagram

Instagram posts with at least one hashtag garner 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. And, unlike on other social platforms, the more hashtags you use on Instagram, the more engagement you generally see. Instead of including them in your caption, try putting all your relevant hashtags in a separate comment separated by a few dashes or dots. Your content will feel less #sponsored and your caption will be much easier to read.

Hashtag Best Practices

If you decide to incorporate hashtags into your social media plan, here are some general tips and best practices to keep in mind.

1. Keep it Short

Avoid hashtags that are too long, unwieldy, or obscure — for example, forego #DigitalMarketingForInsuranceAgents in favor of #InsuranceMarketing or #DigitalMarketing.
Long hashtags are hard to read and generally aren’t as popular as shorter, more concise keywords or phrases.

2. Do Your Research

There are tons of tools, such as Keyhole and Hashtagify, that you can use to see what hashtags are trending. Do your research, and find out what hashtags similar brands are using to draw a crowd. Just be wary of hashtags that are too popular or active: if 100,000 other users are posting #tbt pictures on the same day, yours is unlikely to resonate.

3. Launch a Branded Contest

One great way to use hashtags to extend your reach is with a branded promotion. For example, the #AffiniaSummer photo contest encouraged Affinia hotel guests to share their summer snapshots for the chance to win a prize. This approach will help you collect tons of user-generated content while drumming interest in your brand.

Longneck & Thunderfoot LLC offers social media management services to build a vibrant audience for your brand across all media channels. Learn more about social media and PR here.

Author Christine Wang

A recent graduate of the University of California San Diego with a degree in International Business & Management Science, Christine manages social media publishing and community engagement at L&T. Her passion for social media stems from her past experience assisting various start-ups and organizations with brand-building initiatives. In her free time, you can find her obsessing over her two adorable dogs, Shadow and Maisy.

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