What are hashtags? Why should you use them?
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When putting together your social media strategy, you should always consider the tools available to help you meet your goals. A popular tool for over a decade has been the famous hashtag. Hashtags are powerful tools that can help your target audience find you organically across all social media platforms. Hashtags are valuable for every brand in every niche when used correctly. 

The pound symbol (originally intended to represent numbers) is now a piece of your social media marketing strategy. In 2007, Chris Messina, Product Designer, Product Therapist, and Public Speaker, came up with the idea to group tweets using the symbol. That is when the hashtag was born. Now, more than fourteen years later, social media marketers, influencers, and business owners obsess over choosing the perfect set of hashtags for every social media post. Our team at Root & Roam has created this hashtag guide to help you decipher through the thousands of hashtags in existence and choose the right ones for your brand.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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What are hashtags and why you should use them

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How to choose hashtags

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How to use hashtags

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Key takeaways

THE BASICS OF HASHTAGS

We now know the history of hashtags, but what is a hashtag exactly? A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the pound symbol. They don’t contain spaces or special characters such as the asterisk or dollar symbol. Hashtags may contain numbers and or emojis. 

(Example: #howtousehashtags, #hastagguide2021laughing)

Hashtags are a piece of the pie that help make your social media account(s) successful. Hashtags can help you use the algorithm to your advantage by getting your content to more news feeds of current and potential followers, ultimately increasing your reach.

HOW TO CHOOSE HASHTAGS

Choosing the correct hashtag for your post is the key to a successful hashtag strategy. The hashtags you use should be relevant to your brand and the content of each post.

Your social media budget also plays a part in selecting hashtags. Hashtags that already have thousands of posts are going to have a higher competition level. You will need to post multiple times per week or even per day to stay at the top of the hashtags news feed. Just like any other newsfeed, a hashtags newsfeed features the latest post first. If you are working with a small social media budget, it is best to use hashtags with lower posting rates to be competitive. However, be cautious of hashtags with low posting rates. Hashtags with less than a few hundred posts total are likely new or dead hashtags with very few followers. Using such small hashtags would not be effective for reaching your goals. 

The process of choosing hashtags should commence when you begin creating the content for your post. Use this list as a guide of things to consider, before settling on a hashtag:

BRANDING IN HASHTAGS

You want the hashtags you choose to reflect your specific niche. For example, it does not make sense to use #shoetrends when you are trying to market massage services. Spamming hashtags is a sure way to get your account flagged. A flagged account could result in your page getting banned temporarily or permanently.

Hashtags to help you reach your social media goals

You will need to consider what the post is intended to do before selecting the hashtags. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I trying to sell a product or service?
  • Am I trying to entertain viewers with fun content?
  • Am I trying to get viewers to sign up for something?
  • What would I like to gain from this post?

RELEVANT CONTENT IN HASHTAGS

A social media post includes the caption and the visual element (photo, video, or graphic). If the post is about your latest summer coffee flavor, you might want to use a hashtag like #summercoffeeflavor to maintain relevance to the content or to be found by people searching for new summer coffee flavors.

HOLIDAYS OR SPECIAL EVENTS HASHTAGS

If the social media post is about your upcoming holiday sale, include hashtags for the specific holiday. Pay attention, as some hashtags contain a date. i.e. #christmas2010

A rule of thumb is to begin using holiday hashtags between 60 and 90 days prior to the holiday. For larger holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, you will want to begin using the hashtags sooner. Major holiday hashtags will be heavily used by many platform users within the month of the holiday.

Once you have answered all of the above statements, you will begin searching for the hashtags. There are many tools available to help you search for hashtags. One that we like to use at Root & Roam is the Key Words Everywhere plugin. This tool has free and paid features. It downloads directly to your browser and gives clean instructions for set up. Once you have completed the setup, you will find the hashtag symbol in the upper right corner of your screen when you log into Instagram on your desktop or laptop computer. Click the symbol and begin researching a term or phrase to find all of the available hashtags with their statistics.

The most straightforward method is to log in to the desired platform that you will be using the hashtags on, go to the search bar, type “#” followed by a word or phrase relevant to your post or brand. The platform will direct you to a list of hashtags related to your search. From here, you will need to search through each hashtag until you find the right one(s). Continue this process until you are satisfied with the hashtags that you have chosen. Note: some social media platforms limit the number of hashtags used in a single post. Others have character limits per post as well. Always do your research on each social media platform you choose to work with before posting any content. 

Hashtags best practices to start with are:

  • 1 – 2 hashtags on Facebook
  • 3 – 4 hashtags on Instagram posts
  • 0 – 2 hashtags on Linkedin
  • 3 – 4 hashtags on Pinterest
  • 2 – 3 hashtags on TikTok
  • 2 hashtags on Twitter

There are many different recommendations regarding the use of hashtags on different platforms. Ultimately it all depends on your social media goals and budget. It is always okay to push the boundaries and find what works best for your brand.

HOW TO USE HASHTAGS

Now that you have chosen your hashtags, there are a few ways you can include them in your post. The most common method of using hashtags is to drop them at the end of the caption. Another way is to add the #hashtag in the body of your caption, as we did here. Instagram allows you to include all of your hashtags in the first comment. We recommend using this method if you are using a lot of hashtags to keep the caption reader-friendly. 

You will want to use hashtags heavily for some social media platforms and selectively for other platforms depending on your social media budget. Hashtags, when used correctly, will put your brand in front of new viewers by targeting a specific interest relevant to your brand. This leads to new followers on your social media account and potentially new customers for your business. All without the use of paid advertising.

Remember to continuously engage with and nurture your newly obtained audience to prevent losing them in the future. Your social media goals and objectives will continue to change over time as your brand grows. Hashtag research along with many other audience obtaining factors are a continuous revolving door. Starting your hashtag journey and maintaining it properly will serve your brand well indefinitely.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

A few key takeaways to remember when using hashtags:

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Only use relevant hashtags

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Do your hashtag research

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When used correctly, hashtags are great tools to help you reach your target audience organically

Are you ready to increase your organic reach on social media? Our team is here to help take your brand to the next level. Click to start using hashtags in your social media strategy.

 

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