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By now, whether you love them or hate them, you’ve probably noticed that hashtags are a part of our online lives now. And that goes double for businesses or brands looking to keep or boost their online presence But what exactly are these seemingly-random snippets of words or phrases that are popping up everywhere online and (perhaps more importantly) how can you use them to your business’s advantage?

Technically, hashtags are the combined word or phrase that follows the # symbol (called a hash sign in the UK or pound sign in the USA) in an online text that lets users or readers quickly identify the main ideas, categories, keywords and/or topics within it. They make joining or listening in on an online conversation easier and they can be a real asset to your social media or digital marketing strategy by getting you noticed, increasing engagement and building your brand, If that is, you know how to use them.

Using Hashtags to Boost Your Business

Want to jump on the hashtag bandwagon – you definitely should! Depending on the social media platform and how you use hashtags, you can quickly and quite easily, skyrocket your brand’s online engagement and widen your audience which can have a measurable positive impact on your bottom line. But whether you’re new to using hashtags or simply want to up your hashtagging game, you’ll want to keep some essential Do’s and Don’ts in mind when using hashtags in your social media marketing strategy.

To get the best results from your hashtags:

DO limit your hashtag use to 2 per tweet on Twitter. Contrary to popular belief, using more than this has shown to actually decrease engagement.

DO use at least 11 hashtags per Instagram post. Longer hashtags (between 21-24 characters) have also shown to perform better than shorter ones. DO include hashtags on your Instagram stories, too (hide them under a sticker, if need be!)

DO use hashtags separately and after the main text of your social media posts, not within the text itself.

DO use one and only one hashtag on your Facebook posts. Posts with only one hashtag have the highest engagement rate (an average engagement of 593) while those with more than 10 have the lowest (an average of 188).

DO use hashtags on videos, images and infographics on Google+ so that they will be categorized and offered as “related” content to users searching for similar content.

DO use only letters and numbers in your hashtags. Special characters either don’t work or confuse readers.

DO have a branded hashtag for your business. This can be your business name, slogan, product, or even just a brand identity. This is important for building user-generated content across your social media platforms. Don’t forget to include this in your social media page’s biography information too!

DON’T only use the most popular hashtags. The more local, niche, or unique community you can build around your product, company, or brand means more and better engagement!

DON’T use the same hashtags in the same order on your posts. This can potentially flag it as spam on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram’s algorithms and are thus less likely to appear in online searches.

DON’T use hashtags with more than one word without capitalizing every word. Otherwise you run the risk of it not being legible by readers and will quickly be ignored. Text-to-speech assistive devices won’t be able to read long strings of hashtags either, unless every word is capitalized.

DON’T forget to analyse your hashtags used and their respective rates of success. Drop ones that aren’t getting the results you expect so that you have space for new ones that get you the attention you’re looking for.

When used correctly, hashtags are a fantastic asset and should most definitely be a central and strategic part of your social media and digital marketing strategies, never an afterthought. Need some help researching, using and analysing the best hashtags for your business, product, campaign or brand? At Peppermint, our digital marketing, social media marketing and engagement experts have the skill, know-how and experience to get your social media game not just on track but top-performing! Give us a call and we’ll happily audit where you currently are, discuss where you want to be and research how to get you there by delivering a mix of best practice and innovative marketing strategies that set you apart and get the noticeable, measurable results you’re after!