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How and when to use hashtags to drive more engagement in 2019

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A question I often get asked is on the subject of hashtags. Even though they’ve been around since start of Twitter back on 2006, there still seems to be confusion over best practice. So i thought i’d help clear up any confusion with a quick guide to hashtags.

Firstly, there’s no hard and fast rules on hashtags, just best practice, everyone has an opinion, including me, but this is what I find works best to get engagement on posts and bring new eyeballs on your content.

Firstly, whats a hashtag?

Hashtags are symbols (#) added to the beginning of words or phrases on social media in order to organise topics into streams, making it easy to join discussions and find content on a given subject. Brands often use hashtags to track campaign engagement.

How to look like a hashtag newbie!

When used well, hashtags bring targeted followers to your content, people actively searching your products, interests or opinions will find your content through hashtags. The opposite is true however when they’re used to make a point i.e. #CantBelieveThisJustHappened #FeelingReallyWoundUp, this use of hashtags is pointless as no one is going to be searching for this random string of words.

What social media platforms should I be using hashtags on?

There are some social platforms that use hashtags more than others, its true all the main players have it built into their platform, it’s just some give more prominence to them than others, and some platforms have matured with hashtags at their heart.

Instagram

Absolutely yes! Its the main currency on Instagram and how content is sorted into topics. Want to see beautiful pictures of dogs? Search the hashtag #dogsofinstagram and you’ll find a plethora of posts. My advise is to use between 6-10 well chosen hashtags in your post to drive engagement and bring new followers to your content. Your hashtags should be relevant and ideally tap into trending topics.

Facebook

My advise is to use very very sparingly, if at all. They offer very limited benefit currently on Facebook. If you must, use them to re-enforce a campaign being run across all platforms to track and measure engagement and use of the hashtag.

Twitter

As with Instagram, hashtags are well embedded into the Twitter ecosphere and first appeared on the platform in 2007. Unlike Instagram you are limited to characters in your posts, so choose your hashtags wisely and go for trending hashtags where possible to tap into live topics, sometimes referred to as ‘news jacking’.

LinkedIn

I actually use hashtags on LinkedIn to find content but depending on which expert you speak to you will get a different answer. My advice is to use only relevant hashtags and stick to 2-3 per post. There is lots of evidence that they help to drive extra organic visits to your posts and will ensure the right people are finding your content, and connecting with you.

Hopefully that’s helped to demystify and simplify any questions about hashtags on social media. If you have any questions or comments on this article, pop them in the comments box below.

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