Social media hashtags are simply a (#) in front of a key word or group of words without spacing. For example, #CheeseBoards or #EarthHour etc.
The first Hashtag was used on Twitter back in 2007 by a social technology expert named Chris Messina. Since then, hashtags have become a widely used technique to categorise a vast range of images and comments posted on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
So why should a business page use them?
Hashtags provide the opportunity for your posts to be viewed by a wider audience who search for a specific product or service. When a consumer searches a hashtag, they can view social media posts from people living all over the world. Let’s say a consumer is looking for Australian made products to use in their everyday life, they may search the hashtag #AustralianMade and each and every post that includes the hashtag; #AustralianMade will appear on a search page, where a consumer can tap on the post or image and be led to the social media page which owns the image and product displayed. Basically, hashtags are a very easy method to promote your business. After all, you can use them anywhere in a post whether you add one at the beginning, middle or end. There is one twist however, in order for anyone to view your post with hashtags, your account must be public.
The do’s and don’ts when using Hashtags on different social media platforms
Don’t make them too long. For example #BuythreeandgetonefreeuntilTuesday is too long and your customers will be sick of trying to decipher each hashtag you enter. Instead, a caption along the lines of “If you buy three you will receive one for free! Offer ends Tuesday. #Buy3get1free,” will give the viewer a more positive experience.
Do tell your followers which hashtags to use if you do an online competition. When you run a competition on a social media platform such as Instagram, for example a design competition for a new dress, create a hashtag which has never been used before and tell your followers to use the hashtag when they post their designs. This will associate your design competition with a hashtag which other followers can search if they want to see all of the designs. It will also make it easier for you to keep track of new entries.
Don’t overload your post with hashtags. Instead of using a Hashtag every couple of words, save them for the end of the post or simply use one or two during your post and save the others for posting in the comments section. This way, you can have a clear caption, where hashtags will still be useful.
Do keep it simple but specific. If you are too unique, your desired audience won’t know what to search for. Use simple words in hashtags which people are more likely to search such as #AustralianMadePizza #SydneyWoodfiredPizzas #SydneyPizzaLovers. However, be specific. Using a hashtag for a pizza company such as #mozzarella, is too broad and your post is likely to get lost amongst thousands of posts with the same hashtag.
Don’t Hashtag each word in your caption! #This #has #no #benefit #whatsoever. It looks messy and 99% of people will be frustrated even just looking at a caption like this one. Not to mention, the hashtags are simply useless.
Do make them user friendly. By capitalising each word in the hashtag, the viewer will be able to read it more easily, for example, #DigitalMarketingAgency rather than #digitalmarketingagency. Capitals help to decipher each word so they don’t get lost in the hashtag.