5 reasons why hashtags are important
ashtags help you categorise your social media posts. Characterised by a word or string of words that follow the hash or pound sign (#), they can be used across a number of social media networks. Do their benefits go beyond simply categorising your posts? Absolutely! Here’s why hashtags are important for your social media activity.
WHY HASHTAGS ARE IMPORTANT
1. Hashtags help users understand your post at a glance
Social media networks are busy places. Getting people to spend time reading or looking at your posts in detail isn’t easy. Users typically scan their feeds, searching for posts that are most relevant to them at that particular point in time. Using the right hashtags can help users quickly understand what your post is about. Sometimes, this can mean the difference between someone stopping to read your post (& potentially clicking through to learn more) & someone who just scrolls past it without a second glance.
2. Using hashtags can help you reach your audience & grow
Brand new to social media? Need to get more of your target audience following or liking your page? Have an important message or promotion that you want to share with the right people? Across most social networks, hashtags can help.
If your posts are publicly visible, hashtags can help to put them in front of the right people. For example, if you’ve just tweeted a banana bread recipe, you’ll want to add the hashtag #BananaBreadRecipe to it. Whoever searches for this after you’ve shared will probably see your latest tweet. With the right wording, imagery & visual cues (i.e. your hashtag), your post has the power to not only reach this person, but also encourage them to stop scrolling, spend time on your post & click through to read in detail.
3. Some people find hashtags so useful that they follow them
Some social media users will click on a hashtag in a post that they see & read through related posts. Others will specifically search for things like #BeautyTips or #BathroomDIY… but did you know that there are also social media users who follow specific hashtags? That’s right, in Instagram you can follow hashtags. You can also use monitoring tools to follow hashtags in other social networks. People really do take hashtags seriously &, as an up-&-coming social media marketer or a business owner, you need to take them seriously too.
4. Hashtags can help you learn more about your audience
Hashtag research is great. It shows you more about the type of content that people are sharing & allows you to easily get to know your target audience. You can start to understand more about how they behave on different networks & what really catches their eye. The only limitation with this type of research is that it doesn’t allow you to learn more about people whose accounts are private; their shares, retweets & posts won’t display in your feed. On networks like Pinterest, Twitter & Instagram this generally isn’t too much of a problem.
5. You can use hashtags across all major social media networks
That’s right, hashtags have become a social media norm across all major networks. They’re simply too big & too important to ignore. With all of the benefits that they offer & considering how reliant most active users are on them, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to incorporate them in your own strategy. Understanding more about where & how you can make the most gains with hashtags is key to your success with them.
USING THE RIGHT HASHTAGS
Not all hashtags will have the same impact on your social media marketing efforts. Use the wrong ones & you could either get nothing or plenty of follows & engagement, but all from the wrong people.
Hashtags can ‘go wrong’ for a number of reasons. A seemingly innocent hashtag could be used by the majority in a way that’s detrimental to your brand & its values. General hashtags or jumping on trends that aren’t relevant to your target audience could see your post placed in front of a whole load of irrelevant people.
Let’s look at a quick example. Mary wants to target people with diabetes, sharing advice on healthy living & diabetes friendly recipes. However, she uses the hashtag #advice. With such a non-specific hashtag, her pins are squeezed in amongst hundreds of general advice type posts. As you can see on the screenshot above, #advice has been used on everything from parenting tips to career advice. Someone with diabetes, on the other hand, might be searching for #DiabetesAdvice, #DiabetesCookingAdvice or #RecipesDiabetes & so on. Mary’s content – no matter how amazing it is – probably won’t be found by her target audience.
So, no matter which social media network you’re using, my advice when it comes to hashtags remains the same: devote time to hashtag research & think before you post. Hashtags are important & they can help you achieve so much more – without any additional cost – you just need to use them properly. ♦
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Beylkin is the founder of Words on Marketing. She began her marketing career in Australia in 2005, working for an early stage startup. Since this time, she’s worked with brands big & small, from Microsoft & Montcalm Luxury Hotels to Quiz Clothing & cranberry panda. Now based in London, she spends her days helping individuals & brands achieve more with marketing.