What is a hashtag and how to use them

Today, social media marketing is one of the trends integrated into digital marketing strategies.

Many studies have shown that the average time spent by social media users is 2 hours and 25 minutes, varying according to age segmentation of the registered population.

Therefore, it’s one of the emerging strategies that require planning and analysis for every type of business. In this case, whether your business is a brick-and-mortar store with an online presence, an e-commerce platform, or an internet-only venture like SaaS, etc.

Social media is here to stay!

This is due to the user interaction, the connectivity it offers for information about products, brands, competitors, positioning, and commercial reputation.

In this article, we’ll explore the functions of hashtags on social media and how they contribute to branding development, among other aspects.

¿What is a Hashtag?

A hashtag is a keyword characterized by the # symbol, which highlights and groups it into categories for use on social media.

Its primary function is to be easily discoverable by those searching within that category.

Hashtags can consist of a single word or form a preferably short phrase. Each word should be without spaces and preceded by the pound symbol (#) to be recognized as a hashtag.

Every social media platform allows you to discover and track hashtags, allowing them to group images from people who have tagged text, video, or image content with that specific word.

On Twitter, hashtags with the most usage are categorized, and as their usage increases, they can become “trending topics.”

According to Hubspot, a tweet with a hashtag has a 100 percent higher engagement rate than those without.

On other social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, hashtags can be used moderately in posts but also facilitate trend discovery, viewing and analyzing the number of people using a specific keyword as a hashtag, and understanding the discussions within communities related to the product or service.

The Hashtag Symbol

The hashtag symbol, or the pound sign (#), is a functional symbol invented by Chris Messina and used on social media as a way to tag keywords or specific topics in a post. The symbol itself is used as a method to categorize and classify posts about specific topics, primarily serving as a grouping tool.

Social media users commonly use the hashtag symbol (#) to tag certain keywords or topics in a post, making it simple and easy to find related content. The hashtag symbol is used as a means for users to easily discover posts related to a specific topic or theme. Furthermore, the hashtag symbol can also be used by users to join a conversation about a specific topic and to follow other discussions revolving around the topic. The hashtag symbol is employed on social media platforms to make it easy for users to find relevant conversations and stay updated with the latest news and information.

The hashtag symbol can be used to create and join trending topics, allowing users to have their voices heard in the broader conversation.

¿Why Use Hashtags?

As mentioned earlier, the benefits of hashtags in a social media marketing strategy are numerous. Let’s delve into them in more detail:

1. Increased Engagement with Followers

Companies can position their content by using hashtags that may be used by their consumers.

Including hashtags in posts signifies a desire to engage in conversation or spark one on social media platforms.

Most importantly, the posts become visible in that conversation, inviting people to become a part of it through user interactions, boosting brand participation through likes, actions, comments, and potentially new followers.

2. Great Opportunity for Branding

Building a brand and laying the foundation for reputation isn’t an easy task… But using effective hashtags can be one of the most effective ways to promote your business, brand, or product and contribute to the conversation.

They also serve the purpose of understanding market trends and how competitors use (or don’t use) them, innovating in keyword search.

3. A Way to Support Social Causes

Many companies incorporate support for certain social causes into their values.

Using a hashtag connected to an issue, beyond your brand, is a way to rally behind an important problem and be part of the conversation with the audience.”

How to Use Hashtags

Here are some tips for using hashtags effectively to increase your brand’s audience and visibility:

1. Use short, simple, and unique hashtags

While a hashtag can contain multiple words, they don’t work well with symbols, numbers, or spaces, so the shorter and more functional, the better! The more exclusive your hashtag can be, the easier it is to involve people in the conversation. Generic or overly broad hashtags may not capture the necessary attention.

2. Use trending hashtags

Survey which hashtags are the most popular and generate the most conversation. Including these in your business social media posts can increase visibility for your content. Ensure they add value to the messages already being shared, potentially boosting interactions with your audience.

You can check the most popular hashtags through:

  • Hashtagify
  • RiteTag
  • Hashtag analytics
  • Trendsmap

3. Utilize multiple social media channels

Each social network allows you to add hashtags to the content you share and see the conversation each generates. Each one also has specific characteristics to consider for your posts:

  • Twitter: Due to character count restrictions, use no more than 2 hashtags per tweet for optimal engagement. You can create tweet “threads” for longer discussions.
  • Facebook: While you can add many hashtags, the general recommendation is to use only two—try one trending and one customized for your brand.
  • Instagram: Allows up to 30 hashtags, but it’s best not to exceed 11 per post for the highest level of engagement, as too many can make your image’s caption appear cluttered.
  • LinkedIn: There’s no limit on the use of hashtags, but try not to exceed 5, as LinkedIn’s algorithm may mark your posts as spam.
  • Pinterest: Use only 2 hashtags; it’s a search category, so use your unique hashtag to help users find relevant content.

Finally, it’s important to note that while responding to someone, it’s not necessary to “reiterate” the hashtag, as it can waste character space (as is the case on Twitter due to its character limit).

Ensure your hashtags are dynamic, engaging, conversational, and unique, genuinely inviting the audience to interact with your brand. These play a crucial role in social media marketing, emphasizing the importance of monitoring ongoing discussions and engaging with the audience.

How to Increase Organic Reach with Hashtags

When you use hashtags, your post becomes discoverable to people searching for that hashtag.

For example, if you’re a wedding planner and use the hashtag #weddingplanner, someone engaged and looking for your services may come across your post.

The best way to increase your organic reach with hashtags is to use those relevant to your business and industry.

Research which hashtags are most popular in your industry, then start incorporating them into your posts.

However, be cautious. Instagram recommends using only 3 to 5 hashtags per post. Our research supports this recommendation and even suggests that excessive hashtag use can negatively impact your reach.

Juan Esteban Yepes

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