If you're active on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, then you're familiar with hashtags. They've been used in the social media world for almost a decade and a half now. They were first used by Chris Messina in 2007 after successfully persuading Twitter to incorporate the pound sign with the aim of grouping related tweets together. Hashtags began as a witty way of describing situations and then evolved to become a powerful tool for digital marketing. But are they still relevant today?
What Hashtags Are and How They Work
Hashtags are topics that are used to categorize content on social media platforms. When you search or click a hashtag on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, content from businesses and even individuals who have tweeted using it will appear. This enables you to discover content from users that you're not following so that you can learn more about the topic. Therefore, by incorporating the right hashtags in your social media posts, you can significantly improve your brand visibility on the various social media platforms.
Why the Skepticism?
While some people believe that hashtags are still an effective tool for organizing social content, others are wondering why marketers are still using them. Critics argue that hashtags are problematic because marketers cannot control how other people decide to use them. For instance, it's common for people to hijack hashtags with the aim of exploiting a brand's digital marketing efforts for personal gain.
Some skeptics base their arguments on the fact that not a lot of people use them to find new businesses and products. This is because several surveys have shown that less than a quarter of people on social media use hashtags to discover new brands these days, and therefore, some people believe that using them is no longer an effective social media marketing technique.
Hashtags Are Still Relevant
But even with all the uncertainties surrounding the use of hashtags in digital marketing, a vast majority of marketers still believe that they're an integral part of their overall marketing strategies. This is because hashtags are effective in branding social media campaigns, tracking marketing campaigns, and reaching niche audiences. In fact, it's estimated that Instagram posts with at least one hashtag attract an average of 12% more engagement compared to posts without one.
Tips for Using Hashtags
For you to tap into the benefit of hashtags, you need to use them correctly.
- Use hashtags that fit your brand. For instance, if your business serves people over the age of 40, using hashtags heavy on modern slang might look awkward. Consider your business, its image and products/services, and select hashtags that are relevant.
- Keep them short and sweet. Your hashtags should be short and memorable. If your hashtag is comprised of several words, you need to ensure that the first letter of each word is capitalized. This will make it easier for people to understand it and even use it in their posts.
- Numbers matter! Even though you can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram, it doesn't mean you should. It can make your post look like spam when there's a ton of tags. We recommend between 2 to 5.
- Rotate your tags. You'll want to avoid using the same exact hashtags on every post because your account could get flagged as spam. So we suggest assembling a list to regularly pull from to keep your usage fresh.
The Bottom Line
Overall, it's apparent that although some people doubt the effectiveness of hashtags as a digital marketing tool, the importance of using them cannot be overlooked. Using them correctly will increase your brand visibility on social media, and consequently improve the number of engagements your social media posts get. If you need an expert to guide you through social media marketing, we at Front Burner Marketing would be happy to help. Feel free to contact us today for more information about our services.