Using Hashtags For Beginners

Depending on what generation you belong to, you either know this symbol (#) as a pound sign or a hashtag. You often see them used as a string of words within social media posts, but what is the purpose of these words? I work with small business owners who want to get into the social media space, but it’s hard to know where to start.

I often see businesses use hashtags inappropriately in a few different ways.

  • Business owners or marketers often load up their posts with dozens of hashtags.
  • Posts will also be technically using the hashtags incorrectly such as not including spaces between tags.
  • And some businesses aren’t using hashtags appropriately for the social network they’re using.

I can feel that if you’re reading this and don’t use social media much, you might feel a little embarrassed. Social media management is a technically demanding job. It takes years of staying on top of trends and best practices. Luckily, you can have this guide to get a handle on using hashtags.

Be Smart, Go Easy on the ‘Tags

For starters, I cringe a little whenever I see an influencer, blogger, or brand abuse hashtags on their social media posts. That kind of activity often reeks of desperation or a lack of focus in their marketing efforts. It can also indicate a fundamental misunderstanding about how to best use hashtags.

Social media platforms have tweaked their algorithms to reduce these kinds of spammy practices. However, some well-meaning people haven’t gotten the memo.

When I decide on using hashtags, I try to create a strategy around them. I always think about why they’re being used, how they’re related to the post, and if I’m trying to get people interested in a specific campaign.

For instance, if I’m trying to get people to care about #SaveTheWhales, I don’t want that hashtag to be grouped with dozens of other hashtags. Even if those hashtags are related, they still bury the main point of my post.

So, in short, be smart when using hashtags. You should also know the technical ways that hashtags should be used. It’s helpful to create the kind of mental checklist I’ll explain next.

Let’s Get Technical

Using hashtags is not hard, but using them well is what sets businesses and organizations apart. Hashtags should always be discussed as part of a social media strategy. Here are some points to remember:

  1. If you’re running a campaign, that campaign needs to have one hashtag that keeps your message together.
  2. While using hashtags, don’t just copy and paste a ton of them together. You should focus those tags on relating to your post.
  3. And lastly, research how competing businesses are using hashtags to promote their products, campaigns, or services and let your closest and most active clients know about your hashtags.

The last thing you should know is that certain platforms weigh hashtags differently. Again, this all should fit in a larger social media strategy.

Using Hashtags Appropriately for the Platform & Audience

Each social media platform has different priorities for using hashtags. For instance, platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram give hashtags more priority. Their algorithm depends on grouping content together with these tags and delivering content to people’s searches or timelines.

These platforms depend on trending hashtags to guide the conversations and trends. That is why you see people using hashtags more commonly and more numerous on those platforms.

For Facebook, hashtags have a lower priority since people aren’t usually searching for hashtags on that platform. However, they still operate the same way and are valuable for pages and groups.

For example, brands that run campaigns or giveaways can encourage people to follow specific hashtags so they can see all related information.

Earlier this year, Aberdeen Magazine ran a contest for the #GreetingsFromAberdeen mural outside of the McQuillen offices. People were urged to take a picture of themselves or with family and friends in front of the mural. The specific contest hashtag was used to group contest entrants together, that way contest organizers could find entrants easily.

Using Hashtags for a local contest

Aberdeen Magazine ran a #GreetingsFromAberdeen contest to celebrate the reveal of the new downtown mural.

A wise man named Ben once said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Hashtags are a powerful tool that can help your business reach customers, unite fans, and spread awareness. They should be a part of your overall social media strategy. Moreover, you should fully understand how you will use them going forward.

With all of that said, McQuillen Creative Group provides great digital marketing services that helps businesses thrive on social media. Want to learn more about what we can do for your business? Check out our scalable and affordable digital marketing packages.


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