Do you use hashtags in your social media posts?
Hashtags are everywhere on social media. They started off on Twitter and proved popular. Since then other many other social networks have added them. They can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn as well.
If you want to increase your social media engagement with hashtags you need to use them strategically, as they serve a specific purpose. When I see businesses using hashtags without any strategy I am reminded of this video from Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.
Therefore, in this complete guide to using hashtags on social media I am going to show you what role hashtags play on each network and how to use them effectively to increase social media engagement. Let’s get started.
Hashtags on Twitter
Let’s start with the network that introduced hashtags.
On Twitter, hashtags help categorize tweets. When people click on a hashtag or search one they will see all tweets that contain the hashtag. It helps them filter tweets on topics that interest them.
Therefore, tweets with hashtags get more retweets as you can see in the below graph from Dan Zarrella of HubSpot.
They get your tweets in front of the right target audience.
But there should be a limit of two hashtags per tweet because as this infographic from Linchpin SEO shows us, engagement drops by 17% for tweets with more than two hashtags.
To get best results you should also ensure the hashtags are very relevant to the topic of the tweet and is a popular hashtag. The more popular a hashtag is the more the number of people who will search for it.
Unique, infrequently used hashtags should be reserved for branding your tweets and for Twitter chats.
Hashtags on Instagram
On Instagram hashtags are used in a similar manner to categorise posts. But here you have the freedom to add more than two hashtags.
A study from Quicksprout shows that posts with 11 hashtags on Instagram get the highest engagement (79.5%).
Though this doesn’t afford you the freedom to type in whatever you please. I constantly observe people typing in long hashtags phrases that make no sense. So, think about the hashtags your audience is likely to search for and use them.
When I am sharing a quote or something general I’ll use this list of best hashtags for Instagram researched by Andrew Roach of Oberlo. I find that when I one of these very popular hashtags I get more engagement and followers.
It has a feature known as Hashtag suggestion tool that suggests recently used hashtags that will work well in my post. I can just click on each and add them instantly.
They also have a feature known as hashtag lists that lets me group and save lists of hashtags. When I want to post something, I can just select the most relevant list and add it. I already have one containing the aforementioned list of popular hashtags. I like to use it when I share something general.
I just add the list and then delete irrelevant hashtags and add in more relevant ones if necessary. It’s a great time-saving tool.
You can easily create new lists when you are uploading a post. All you need to do is click on the ‘#’ sign.
Next click the ‘+’ sign and then finally add in the hashtags and give your list a name and save it. It will be ready for use for both current and future posts.
Hashtags on Pinterest
Pinterest has an interesting history with hashtags. When the network was launched, you could add hashtags. They did not properly categorize posts and there was no indication as to whether using them contributed to an increase in engagement. Later they discarded the feature, only to reintroduce it again recently.
Now they work just like on any social network. When you click on a hashtag or search one in the search field the latest pins show up.
I tried it out for myself. I searched the hashtag #SweetPotatoRecipes and only pins with this hashtag appeared in a chronological order. They definitely work. The previous version of hashtags was not very organized.
As hashtags are relatively new to Pinterest, it cannot be confirmed if they increase engagement. You need to try them out and see for yourself by using a Pinterest analytics tool.
Pinterest recommends you to add no more than 20 hashtags. This doesn’t mean that you should add 20 every time. Experiment with a different number each week. Start with one and test posts with additional hashtags to see the right number for you that increases your engagement and traffic.
Hashtags on LinkedIn
LinkedIn, like Pinterest, discarded hashtags only to reintroduce them later. At first, they were fully functional on mobile devices only, but now they work everywhere.
Here too they are used to categorise content. To add them to posts just click the ‘#’ sign and type in the word you want to add. LinkedIn will suggest relevant and popular hashtags and you can select them.
You can add three tags to your article description. After you click on ‘Publish’, a popup will appear asking you to add tags to your LinkedIn article description, where you can include hashtags.
Don’t try to add hashtags directly into the article, as this doesn’t work.
Adding hashtags to articles and posts will make it easy for people to find them when they search the hashtag or keyword and when they click on the hashtag.
An interesting thing I discovered is that when I search a hashtag, LinkedIn only shows posts with the hashtag. But when I click on a hashtag, LinkedIn not only shows me the posts in that category, but also offers the option to follow the hashtag. It even displays the number of followers the hashtag has.
Therefore, if you want to figure out how popular a hashtag is, click on it in the newsfeed and check how many people are following it. If it has a good following it will be worth adding it to your post.
Hashtags on Facebook
Facebook introduced hashtags in 2013. They perform a similar function to the other social networks i.e. to categorise posts and find posts on similar topics.
But so far, their effect on engagement is mixed. Some reports like this one from Buzzsumo which analysed 1 billion Facebook posts found that those with hashtags got less engagement.
While this one from Social Bakers which analysed the 500 largest company profiles found that posts with one hashtag got more engagement than those with 0 or more than one hashtag.
In my experience it has been something similar as well. For some accounts and niches, hashtags seem to be boosting engagement while for others, there’s a negative effect.
Your best option is to experiment with varying numbers of hashtags (and no hashtags) to see what brings you best results.
Even if you don’t use hashtags for engagement on Facebook, it would be a good option for promoting your branded hashtags as it is the biggest network. A well-planned Facebook campaign can popularise your branded hashtag and the use of it could spill out onto other networks too.
A company that’s had great success with branded hashtags is Toyota. They don’t use extremely popular keyword hashtags in their Facebook posts, but branded ones such as #LetsGoPlaces.
Increase social media engagement with hashtags…strategically
Hashtags are mainly used to categorise content and offer a better user experience. On most social networks, it is clear that they increase engagement when implemented properly. But you can’t just add any hashtag and hope for the best. You need to have a strategic approach and only use relevant hashtags.
Use these tips to find and incorporate the best hashtags into your posts for each social network.
How do you use hashtags on social media? Have you found that you increased your social media engagement with hashtags? Let us know in the comments below.