more than 70 % of consumers favor hashtags on mobile devices and nearly half are motivated to explore new content when hashtags are present
A hashtag strategy uses the # symbol (pound sign) in front of text, images or videos on social media content to deliver a specific message. Hashtags are a simple and effective strategy to organize and search social media content. Originally created by Twitter to help users find topics of interest, hashtags are now used on many - but not all - social media channels to organize and sort topics for their audience. The best thing about hashtags: you can create your own!
5 Steps to Create a Hashtag Strategy for Your Brand
1. Research popular hashtags for your industry and your audience
A search of Google and each social media channel will help you find hashtags that appeal to your target audience to market your brand. For example, #smallbiz #smallbusiness #SmallBusinessSaturday
- Twitter displays hashtags that are trending
- Pinterest has a search field dedicated to hashtags
2. Create hashtags unique to your brand
A unique hashtag is a fun and identifiable way to deliver your brand's message. Your # should be
- deliver a clear message
Once you come up with hashtag ideas for your campaign, search your social media channels to determine if that hashtag is already being used.
3. Share your hashtags on your social media profiles
If you create a unique hashtag for your brand, a special event or a key product; or you post on topics of appeal to a specific audience, publicize that hashtag in your social media profiles:
- bios on social media channels
- cover art for your social media networks
- Alt text for your cover images
4. Make hashtags readable
Both long and short hashtags can be incredibly effective in delivering your message. While short and simple is often the best strategy for hashtags, longer hashtags can be very effective in delivering a very specific message. Make your hashtags readable: which # would you understand and remember:
5. Use hashtags with care
Don't spam your followers with hashtags. One or 2, and possibly 3 hashtags work for a Tweet. On Instagram, following your post with 15, 20 or even 30 hashtags is effective in targeting your various audiences. Each social media channel has unique characteristics and user preferences that can guide your brand's hashtag strategy.
Tips for Using Hashtags on the Most Popular Social Media Channels
Twitter: Hashtags remain a key component of Twitter search and are used to organize topics, follow specific events (such as twitter chats), identify popular topics on Twitter, create conversations and express creativity. Because Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters, too many hashtags in a single tweet can annoy users, but also are a great way to express creativity.
Instagram: Instagram is wildly popular for hashtags. Many users add 5, 10, 20 or even 30 hashtags at the end of their post to reach as wide an audience as possible. As shown in the image above, Instagram encourages hashtag use with a hashtag search option that auto-fills to encourage use of popular user hashtags.
Google +: G+ supports and encourages the use of hashtags. When you post on G+ with hashtags, Google Plus will automatically highlight your 1st or most popular hashtag in the upper right hand corner of the post to help users find content.
Pinterest: Pinterest has remained silent on the use of hashtags. Many users add hashtags in their pin descriptions, but they appear to offer no advantage over using your keyword or phrase.
Facebook: Hashtags were implemented for search on Facebook last year, but they are not popular with Facebook users. Use hashtags sparingly on Facebook so you don't annoy your followers, but they may not be effective as so few brands are using them.
LinkedIn: Hashtags are not yet used on LinkedIn, primarily because they are not searchable. However, social media analysts predict that they can't be far off. For now, use hashtags on LinkedIn only if they are critical to a specific campaign message.
This infographic by Huffington Post shows The Power of the Hashtag