To say that the jury has repeatedly flip-flopped on the use of hashtags on social media platforms would be a dramatic understatement. It seems like every year the consensus changes on the use of hashtags – one day they’re highly recommended on a platform like Facebook, the next your brand is being mocked for using them. What exactly are best practices for using hashtags on social media? Each platform has different recommended guidelines for their use, and it’s highly recommended that your business keep up with these best practices in order to experience the most success possible and increase your brand’s visibility on social media.
While it may look a bit odd to you, there’s ample evidence to show that a hashtag constructed like the one above is more attention-getting than #anoteoncapitalization. This is true across all platforms. Capitalizing multi-word hashtags makes them easier to read and more accessible – something that’s increasingly important both online and off.
Using hashtags on Twitter
Twitter is where use of the hashtag was spawned, allowing users to find relevant conversations and accounts with one single keyword or phrase. While their popularity on the platform has dwindled slightly for personal accounts, they still serve as a great way for potential customers to find your brand.
Using hashtags on Twitter is highly recommended for businesses tweeting about upcoming events and conferences, celebrating holidays and other important days, and promoting branded campaigns. They can also be employed when brands are looking to get in on trending topics and conversations and showing support for trending causes, allowing like-minded customers to easily discover you.
For maximum effect, Twitter recommends the following:
- Use correct spelling
- Make hashtags memorable and realistic
- Do your research and give followers a reason to use the hashtag
- Only use 1-2 hashtags per tweet
- Don’t force hashtags where they aren’t relevant – research shows that ads without hashtags often perform better than those with them
- Don’t overdo capitalizations – these are only recommended for multi-word hashtags #LikeThis (instead of #LIKETHIS – don’t shout)
Using hashtags on Instagram
Hashtags are one of the most important aspects of Instagram, allowing users to find relatable and relevant content easily. Users can follow hashtags on Instagram, ensuring that content they enjoy appears in their feed. It’s highly recommended that your business uses Instagram hashtags to their fullest potential – without them, it’s nearly impossible for users to find and interact with your content. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to using hashtags on Instagram, it’s recommended that you follow the following guidelines:
- Research relevant hashtags to ensure that they’re worthy of your time and real estate
- Niche hashtags can go a long way
- Ensure spelling is correct and appropriate capitalization is used for readability
- Don’t be spammy – you’re allowed to use up to 30 hashtags per post, but that doesn’t mean you should. Use the “less is more” approach, cap it at around 10-12 hashtags, and focus on using only the most relevant ones for your update
- Take advantage of trending topics with relevant to your industry, and encourage followers to use hashtags relevant to your brand, campaigns, or events
- Use a variety of hashtags, don’t just stick to the same ones on every post – research what your competitors are doing and learn from them
While there are various tools out there, such as RiteTag, which can show you reach for specific hashtags, there’s no better way to research them than to do a search on Instagram itself for the top posts using your hashtags. This will alert you to hashtags in your topic area that you should be using, and if you’re cribbing hashtags from the top posts, you’re learning from the best.
Using hashtags on LinkedIn
As on Twitter and Instagram, hashtags on LinkedIn help users find relevant content from users and businesses that they might not be aware of yet. It’s recommended that businesses use hashtags on their social channels, though few businesses actually do it right. Using branded hashtags on LinkedIn is only recommended for certain cases – it’s usually a better idea to use general industry-related hashtags to make discovery easier on this particular channel. Branded hashtags are a bit too niche for LinkedIn. Instead, use a small amount of impactful, more generalized hashtags. It’s recommended that you follow these LinkedIn hashtag best practices:
- Go for more general industry-related hashtags over ultra-niche or branded ones unless it’s for events or conferences
- Don’t spam hashtags on LinkedIn, it’s generally thought that between 3-5 is the maximum amount, with 2-3 being optimal
- Use professional hashtags – LinkedIn is a platform for networking, and seriousness goes a long way
- Location-based hashtags are a great way for reaching local audiences
- Always capitalize multi-word hashtags for readability
- Research hashtags before you use them to ensure that they’re actually being used – make the most of your limited real estate
- Monitor your followers and competitors to see what hashtags they’re using and engaging with – apply these in future posts
- Add hashtags on LinkedIn below posts, unless they flow better inline
Using hashtags on Facebook
The topic of using hashtags on Facebook is surprisingly controversial – it was commonplace for a short period of time before they nearly disappeared from the platform. Hashtags are so popular on other platforms because of their search functions, helping users find what they want to see quickly. Facebook’s search platform is more advanced than others, resulting in the use of hashtags being controversial because many see them as being irrelevant or unnecessary.
Facebook’s official position is that they’re recommended, but are usually only effective with popular hashtags that people are using regarding trending topics or events. The truth is that the actual effects of using hashtags on Facebook posts are more or less unknown, and brands seem to either use them selectively or ignore them altogether. If your business wants to use hashtags in Facebook posts, it’s recommended that you follow Facebook’s best practices:
- Use one or very few hashtags to keep it easily digestible
- Hashtags are best used for identifying specific topics or events
- When using hashtags, it’s best to use them in sentences rather than at the end of a post
- Hashtags used on other platforms that have been connected to Facebook are clickable and searchable from within Facebook (this is most relevant for Instagram, which Facebook owns)
- Check your spelling and use capitalization for readability
Navigating the world of hashtag best practices on social media can be tricky at the best of times, making it a good idea to consult social media experts like those at ion8. Our experienced team of social media specialists have managed social media channels for businesses of all sizes, launching successful campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the country. To learn more about how ion8 can transform your business’s social media marketing campaigns, get in touch with us today.