Hashtags, huh? How to Choose the Right Ones for Your Business
by Maggie Nargi-Ackerbauer
In the constantly changing landscape of social media, hashtags can feel overwhelming. You may be wondering: How do I choose the right hashtags, and how many should I use?
You’ll want to be strategic when choosing your hashtags. Too many can clutter your caption, while too few may not noticeably increase engagement. It’s essential to learn the correct practice of hashtag use. Using them the wrong way can lead to spammy-looking posts or your account being shadowbanned (the term for when an account is hidden or restricted, but not officially fully banned). If you’re feeling lost or confused about using this social media tool properly, here’s a guide for the world of hashtags.
What are they?
A hashtag is a symbol used on social media to categorize your post with a word or a phrase so that your post is more discoverable. You’ve probably seen ones like #TacoTuesday or #ThrowbackThursday, or even #CatsOfInstagram. These hashtags revolve around displaying your content under a specific topic. A user can search a hashtag to find posts that, ideally, fit within the same grouping. For example, a widely used hashtag on Instagram is #Bookstagram. Under this topic, you will find posts all about books: recommended titles, current reads, bookstores, and even book reviews.
How are they used?
Hashtags are helpful for multiple reasons. Hashtags can:
- Help users find more content under that topic. As mentioned before, using popular hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday help to categorize your posts and make them easier to find.
- Allow people to categorize their own posts by attaching themed phrases in the caption. This helps both the brand account and its audience to categorize their posts as well as contribute to the same conversation by creating a place for people to see posts entirely of that particular thing. For example, SXSW holds its annual design conference and invites users to share their own content from the event using the tag #SXSW2023. This can help businesses promote products and events for their brand while also encouraging their target market to interact with their own generated content.
- Help you reach a larger audience. By using them in your captions, they will show up to other accounts who follow or search that phrase, leading your posts to people who might have never come across your page before.
Which hashtags are right for me?
The types of hashtags that are right for you depend on the kind of account you run and the goals for whom you are trying to reach. Keep in mind that people can follow specific hashtags, so think about the topics users are inclined to see in their feeds.
Regardless of the platform, here are some considerations when choosing your hashtags:
- Specific vs. General Hashtags – You should try to use a mix of general and specific hashtags for different types of visibility. Specific hashtags are helpful for niche discoverability. They usually include the word of the precise thing you are looking for but with more description. A jewelry page might use tags like #GoldChainBracelet #SilverPendantNecklace to allow searchers to find particular products rather than general hashtags like #Necklace, #Bracelet, or even #Jewelry. Specific hashtags help narrow down the search results, especially for products. On the contrary, general hashtags are typically overpopulated with results, and it will be tough competition for your post to stand out.
- Geographic Targeting –
If your page is targeting a wider geographic, you will want to use a broader range of words and phrases related to your brand. An example of this could be an athletic shoe business with stores worldwide that may use #fitness, #sports or #sneakers.However, if you are targeting a smaller geographic area, you may want to focus on local hashtags. Say your page is a restaurant local to Albany; you might want to use a specific theme of hashtags like #AlbanyEats or #AlbanyFoodies that highlight the area and don’t have quite as many posts attached so yours won’t get lost in the mix.
- Increasing Engagement – It helps to do some research about hashtags in your area. If you’re interested in a hashtag but want to make sure it will actually improve engagement, you can search the tag on each platform and see how many other posts are like it.
- Check Out the Competition – Looking at what your competitors post can give you helpful insights on which hashtags resonate with your audience and deliver high engagement numbers.
How many should I use?
How many hashtags you should use will be based on the platform. Each social networking site has its own rules and suggested use for the number of hashtags each post should have. Although you are able to use up to thirty hashtags on some platforms, here are the recommended amount for each platform:
- Twitter: 2-3
- Facebook: 2-3
- Instagram: 3-5
- LinkedIn: 1-2
- Pinterest: 3-5
Ultimately hashtags can be a highly effective tool to connect with your target market on social media. Now that you better understand hashtags, hopefully, you feel empowered to choose the right ones for your account.
Still want some guidance on choosing the best hashtags? We can help! Contact KDD today to get started on your #journey.
Maggie Nargi-Ackerbauer is the Marketing and Communications Assistant at Katy Dwyer Design. Maggie is a Poughkeepsie local who has a passion for giving brands a voice to connect with their mission and authentically express themselves.