Using hashtags in your social media marketing strategy may seem like a no-brainer – many communications pro’s believe “the more hashtags, the better.” But when there’s too many, it can make posts look like spam. Hashtags may not be a one-size-fits-all solution across all social media platforms, but it is still a great way for brands to increase their audience reach, build an online community and gain better visibility. So where is the line between effective and ineffective hashtags, and how do we know when we’ve crossed it?

As hashtags have gained popularity since it was first used in 2007, they have also now become one of the only ways for people who aren’t already following you, to find your content. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how to harness hashtags for social media success. 

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Use Hashtags to Increase Visibility

With so much content across social media platforms, it’s pretty easy to get lost in all the noise. So it’s important to use hashtags as an SEO tactic to help you get discovered. But with that said, not every hashtag is worth using to increase your visibility. As a brand, you should use hashtags that are relevant and authentic not only to your posts, but also to your entire account. 

You can do this by using branded hashtags, which allow for great brand-related online activity and user-generated content to be created and shared. Superbalist features customers on their Instagram account who have purchased their items and engage with the #SuperbME tag, while at Meltwater, we use the hashtag #OutsideInsight as a way for our audience to join our online community and engage in our topical conversations.

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Both Instagram and Twitter have “Explore” pages, where you can see what some of the top trending hashtags are at that particular point in time. Some popular hashtags, like #love or #travel, can be too broad of a term to use if you want to be discovered. Use the “Explore” page to find 3 specific hashtags, related to your brand, that you can incorporate into your post to help improve visibility and build consistency. A good example here is Jeep, who use the branded #itsajeepthing tag, together with #authentic, #adventure and #freedom in their posts to increase visibility.

So, using your brand-specific hashtag in conjunction with generic, popular hashtags, can be a winning formula too.

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Find The Perfect Balance

It is possible to have too much of a good thing, and so while using hashtags are great for your posts, keep in mind that you need to have a balanced number of hashtags. 

Lauren Dallas, founder of Future Females, warns us about Instagram’s shadow-banning rule, or appearing too spammy, when using too many hashtags. So what is the optimal number of hashtags to use across the different social media platforms? 

  • Instagram: 9-11 
  • Twitter: 1-2
  • Facebook: 1-2

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How long, or short, your hashtags are have proven to be just as vital. The hashtag #Nike currently has over 91 million posts on Instagram, while #NikeSneakers has over 300 000 posts. Naturally, the more characters or word-specific you are with your hashtags, the less posts you’ll see associated with that hashtag. But this isn’t the rule of thumb for all social media platforms. So what is the optimal length for hashtags on each platform?

  • Instagram: 21 characters
  • Twitter: 18 characters
  • Facebook: 6 characters

"Instagram analytics on hashtags"/measure hashtag power on social media"

Track Your Traction

The use of hashtags for brand awareness is constantly growing. Hashtags are great for ensuring your brand message is heard within the social media noise. For SEO, when people search for topics using hashtags associated with your brand, this helps you become more discoverable. 

Do’s and Don’ts to Remember

  • Do use hashtags that are relevant and authentic to your brand
  • Do be specific with which hashtags you use on different social media platforms
  • Don’t spam your followers by using too many hashtags 
  • Don’t use broad hashtags only. Rather, combine these with branded hashtags.

using hashtags for social media success

But now that we know only a certain number of hashtags work on different social media platforms, how can you track and measure the hits your hashtags are getting across the board? Consider using a social media listening platform to help you gain valuable hashtag insights. 

Meltwater’s social media listening tool allows you to not just track and measure your hashtags, but also analyse the impact that they are having on your brand. By using our media intelligence tools, we can see the trends around your hashtags, any spikes in conversations, and who engages with your hashtags frequently. Get in touch with the Meltwater Africa team today!