Remember in The Little Mermaid when Ariel sits in the cave pulling petals from her underwater flower, wondering if Prince Eric likes her or dislikes her?
That pretty much sums up my relationship with hashtags.
I love them for helping bring organic reach and visibility to social media posts. I don’t like to see brands using them willy-nilly, stuffing them like King Triton’s magic trident into their captions to fix a failing social profile.
Hashtag success doesn’t come from hoping you land on “they like me.” It 100% depends on your hashtag strategy.
Let’s break it down by platform so you can go from #TheyLoveMeNot hashtags to #TheyLoveMe hashtags in 2023.
Hashtags on Twitter can be a powerful tool to increase your brand visibility, encourage engagement, and expand your network with like-minded people.
According Twitter Enterprise, tweets with top relevant hashtags can generate a significant boost in the marketing conversion funnel, such as +18% message association, +8% brand awareness, and +3% purchase intent. These tips based on Twitter best practices and my experiences can help you get started:
One or two relevant hashtags in your tweets is the sweet spot. Could you add more? Of course. Should you? Probably not.
Look for frequently used hashtags and interact with these posts to increase visibility. Don’t be afraid of Twitter chat-specific hashtags (like #CMWorld). These forums are great opportunities to meet potential customers, make connections, and expand your knowledge base.
Think beyond broad hashtags and be specific. Often you will find some of these QARs (seldom asked questions) Andrew Davis spoke during his 2022 Content Marketing World keynote to position yourself as a thought leader on the platform.
Follow @DrewDavisHere’s advice to rarely asked questions and get insights with hashtags to position your brand as a thought leader, says @coastlinemktg via @CMIContent. #Social networks Click to tweet
Don’t base your hashtag’s success on like numbers. To use Twitter Analytics to track tweet performance and look for correlations and patterns to see which hashtags are getting the most engagement so you can replicate this process.
LinkedIn is about connection, whether you are build a personal brand Or market a brand. And just like Twitter, if you want your content to stand out among LinkedIn’s more than 500 million members, a proper hashtag strategy is essential.
When used correctly, adding relevant hashtags to your posts and articles will help you connect with new audiences, establish your credibility, expand your reach, build a community around your organization, and promote your brand and products.
Here is what I recommend:
Count the quantity
LinkedIn suggests including no more than three hashtags per post and using broad and niche hashtags for increased exposure (e.g. #marketing vs #contentmarketing).
Three hashtags are enough if you target them appropriately for the target audience.
Consider hashtag placement
When possible, insert your hashtags organically into the post caption so they become a natural part of your story. Grouping them at the bottom not only looks awkward, but distracts from the purpose of the message.
Optimize your pages
Choose up to 20 specialties to add to your business page that represents what you do and what you post. Think of them as hashtaggable keywords to help your page be found more easily on the platform.
Use hashtags in comments
You can add hashtags when commenting on a post or article. This property community manager tactic can help you increase your personal search capacity and that of your brand.
Keep track of the hashtags you use and look for correlations with your primary objective (i.e. engagement, post clicks, reach, etc.).
Since many user profiles are set to private and there are an abundance of topic groups, getting members of the public to engage and interact with hashtags on Facebook can be more challenging.
I don’t recommend spending time on Facebook hashtags, but before you back out, monitor relevant and branded hashtags to make sure your audience is no exception.
You can perform this search by adding the keyword or hashtag to the end of the facebook.com/hashtag/_____ URL.
If no one has used the hashtag in years, don’t invest time in creating a Facebook hashtag strategy. However, if you find the hashtag engages an audience, use no more than two to three hashtags per post to see if they work for your brand.
Are hashtags helping you improve your brand reach on Instagram in 2023? This is the current question that revolves around the social sphere. According to the head of Instagram Adam Mosserihashtags aren’t as effective on Instagram as they used to be.
So what now?
Social media search engine optimization enters the conversation by hashtag.
Hoot Suite experimented to see if posts with hashtags perform worse than posts that prioritize relevant keywords.
The results? Keyword-focused captions saw 30% more reach and increased engagement compared to those with hashtags.
That’s not to say that hashtags are out of place. They just aren’t the priority on Instagram that they once were.
Armed with this data, here are my Instagram recommendations:
Minimize the use of hashtags
A few months ago, I would have recommended a maximum of 12 hashtags. My current recommendation is no more than four targeted hashtags on any post.
Use relevant and descriptive keywords
Think of writing captions as another form of content writing. Incorporate relevant and descriptive information key words. Keep it short and sweet when possible. People are scrolling by so quickly that it makes sense to create clear and concise captions for maximum impact.
As the Topics icon indicates, Topics are the next iteration of Instagram hashtags. They help you reach people who share an interest. You can add up to three topics to your post just before publishing if you have the feature in the share menu.
New! Instagram lets you add “Subject” tags to reels
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) September 5, 2022
Discover the competition
You probably have competing accounts that you emulate for their content. Dig deep into what works for them on the platform and use what you learn to inform your strategy.
Maybe they’re using targeted keywords you hadn’t considered to reach your audience or maybe you walk away with a renewed sense of creative vision. Either way, it’s a win.
keep it fun
Social media is supposed to be fun. This is where you have the chance to show off a brand’s personality and give viewers a look behind the curtain. Don’t take a hashtag strategy to extremes and stop injecting humor and personality into your posts.
So when it comes to a social media hashtag strategy, keep it specific, concise, and fun. Happy hashtag.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute