No doubt you’re already aware, hashtags are a big deal in social media.
Used right, hashtags can boost the performance of your posts by exposing your content to a wider audience of people interested in your target subjects. But used wrong, hashtags can make your brand look foolish, out of touch and can actually lose you followers as a result.
So how do you use hashtags effectively, and what are the big mistakes to avoid?
Here are three of the most common hashtag missteps to be aware of.
1. Not researching hashtags
Yes, hashtags are important – but you can’t just tag any word or use any tag, you need to use the ones most relevant to your target audience.
This is important for several reasons. First off, if you use a tag without conducting research, you can’t know for sure how that tag’s being used.
Several brands have been caught out because of this, especially with trending news. DiGiorno’s Pizza in the US, for example, came under fire in 2014 after it tapped into a trending tag about domestic violence, posting a light-hearted comment. The company later admitted it hadn’t checked what the conversation was about beforehand.
Second, if you’re just hashtagging any word, you’re likely not reaching your target audience. You need to know what tags they’re most commonly interacting with, and how your business fits in that conversation. Without research, you’re just throwing it out there with no aim.
2. Using too many hashtags
The second most common issue with hashtags is people trying to tag #every #single #word.
It’s annoying isn’t it? Hashtags can make your content harder to read, which waters down your message – one or two is generally fine, particularly because modern consumers have adjusted to their presence, but too many can be problematic.
What’s more, all the research suggests that overusing hashtags is ineffective.
For example, this study of more than 65,000 posts found that the optimal number of hashtags per Twitter post, in order to boost engagement, is one, while on Instagram it’s nine.
For Facebook, a BuzzSumo study of more than a billion posts conducted in 2016 found that Facebook posts with hashtags actually performed worse than those without.
Each business will see different results, but as you can see from the research, the general view is that too many is actually a negative – and that’s aside from making your posts harder to read.
3. Not using hashtags at all
But here’s the thing – hashtags do work.
Tweets containing hashtags get two times more engagement than those without, Instagram posts with the optimal amount of tags generate significantly more reach and engagement.
The key point to keep in mind is that you need to research in order to optimise your hashtag efforts – otherwise you’re just throwing mud at a wall and seeing what sticks.
Use tools to work out the best hashtags to reach your audience, conduct tests to see what generates more reach and response.
It’s very easy to log onto any of your social platforms and enter the relevant hashtags into the search tab to see what you get.
Hashtags can be key to boosting the performance of your content and getting your brand more exposure online. But you have to understand why you’re using each one, how it’s being used by your audience.
If you need help understanding hashtags and hashtag performance, get in touch.