If you use social media you must know that hashtags are an important component of social activity, especially on Instagram and Twitter. But have you ever asked yourself what a hashtag is? And more importantly, have you ever asked why and how do I use hashtags optimally?
A hashtag is metadata that is used on social media platforms to categorise content and to make it easier to find other posts with a similar subject. So, if you add a “#” before a word, users may click on that word and find all the posts using that that same word. It’s a pretty cool tool.
These little gems are especially important on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. But LinkedIn is coming to the party too. Now hashtag suggestions pop up automatically when you write a post on the platform. And, like with Instagram, you can follow particular hashtags on LinkedIn as well. Given these changes on social media platforms, it is becoming increasingly important to know how to use metadata correctly and how to leverage it for optimal impact.
More and more people look for information through hashtag searches and brands must learn how to take advantage of this new trend.
When I plan my posts I try to use three types of metadata:
- Unique hashtags to identify a brand,
- Themed hashtags to identify a campaign, theme or activity, and
- Everyday hashtags to drive traffic to the feed.
This hashtag must be unique to a brand. #JustMeneesha, for example, is easily recognisable and searchable for the people who follow my brand. Often brands include their tagline as their unique hashtag. If you see #fingerlickinggood that do you think of? I immediately think #KFC. Unique hashtags are the signature tags of a brand. They help promote the brand and are crucial for unique identity on social media.
It is also preferable that these are unique. They alert your followers to a very specific aspect of your social media activity and are very effective when you are running competitions, launching new products or services and even carrying out themed activities.
These tags help you track posts on a particular campaign or competition or theme. I have a few campaign-specific hashtags that serve as backlinks on my own feeds. And I know some followers make a point of searching for those tags.
Think of these as keywords. They highlight, categorise content and make your content discoverable on social platforms. These words don’t define your brand, they are merely relevant to your content. They are common tags that other users will follow and search for. But they are important because they help increase traffic to your platform. A word of caution when choosing them: hashtags that are too popular may not bump you up in a search, and hashtags that are rare may go unnoticed. Think carefully about them. Use them strategically.
Using hashtags properly can be the difference between a good post and a successful one. They’re an important part of any social media marketing campaign. Remember to use them wisely and do not overstuff posts with them. Strike a balance between frequently-used and unique types. Use unique tags to help you engage your audience and track feedback. There are many apps that are useful in deciding which to use. Don’t be afraid to get assistance.
Read more about social media here.