How to Hashtag: Your 101 Guide

Ah, the hashtag! Once just a cute way of getting attention on Twitter, they’ve expanded to the wider social media marketing world as a fantastic way to let people ready to hear your message find you. Yet many brands are failing to use this powerful little tool to its full potential. Here’s some top tips from the Zebra 360 Digital Marketing team to make your hashtags pop.

#Hashtags, really?

Yes, really! Hashtags have become ubiquitous in the social media world, although they’re still most heavily used on Instagram and Twitter. But even LinkedIn lets you drive traffic with that little # symbol. They’ve been proven to not only boost your social media reach, but also offer a whole new level of engagement for your fans. It’s time to move beyond the occasional #ThrowbackThursday, and embrace relevant, branded, and popular hashtags so they work for you.

Some basics to know: First up, hashtags don’t work with spaces, symbols, or punctuation, so they need to be snappy and accessible. That also means you shouldn’t overdo it. A word or three at max, folks! This also means it’s best to not get too obscure with them, either. You also need to use them from a public account, or the platform will politely (and counterproductively) keep you out of the general feed searches. And last, but certainly not least, don’t overdo them. More isn’t better, and will make you seem like a lost noughties teenager, not a serious brand.

Why Does My Brand Need Hashtags?

Let’s be honest. Organic engagement is hard to find these days. With hashtags on your posts, interested people looking for you have a better chance of finding you. Not only can they be used to start conversations and raise awareness, but they can be used for product promotions, too. Plus, they help raise your voice, keeping you trendy and in line with world happenings. 

  • Engagement: Hashtags earn you your spot in a conversation, which means people interested in the topic can reach out and engage.
  • Branding: Branded hashtags can help boost your profile, create curiosity, and promote your business. They’re especially powerful paired with competitions, challenges, and specific campaigns.
  • Support: Humanise your brand, and show what matters most to you by supporting social issues that matter. Remember to keep these brand-relevant, however, and don’t let your personal opinions slip in, or you risk alienating followers.
  • Context: On many social platforms, you don’t have a lot of space to spread the message. Hashtags offer a unique way to contextualise what you’re saying in very few letters
  • Visibility: Your target audience can find you more easily with another tool in their pockets.
  • Partner: Hashtags also let you work with influencer partnerships more easily. 

Popular isn’t Best

As we mentioned briefly under support, remember that this is about building up your brand, not just making your voice heard. It seems intuitive to use what’s popular to ‘ride the coattails’ of an issue to greater prominence. However, this is also an easy recipe for looking spammy, or derailing the conversation completely. And done wrong, they’re disastrous!

You certainly shouldn’t ignore what’s popular and what’s going on in wider spaces. Both #throwbackthursday and #flashbackfriday are fun examples of popular hashtags that can be leveraged to great effect.

To find potentially trendy hashtags that might work for your business, make sure you’re monitoring influencers and competitors in your industry. Keep an eye on trending sites- but make sure you have the right context for why it’s trending, too, don’t just hop on the bandwagon without doing your research! Don’t be afraid to experiment with some of your own, either. And, as always, analyse and tweak what works for you, including exploring related hashtags.

When used correctly, hashtags are a powerful way to increase your organic reach and keep the conversation flowing, but they do need to be used smartly. Not sure where to start? The brand experts at Zebra 360 Digital Marketing Agency help you get hashtags #right.