Computer showing top hashtags

How to Use Hashtags: The Busy-Person’s Guide

It’s 2020, you know hashtags are a big deal, you’ve seen them, maybe even searched for them and you want to use them to market your business. The only problem is you don’t really understand how they work or which ones to use. No worries, we got you.

Welcome

We’re going to be brief, there are plenty of great, detailed guides on hashtags covering usage, selection, implementation, strategy, by platform, by industry, is your head spinning yet?

We’re going to cover the fundamentals so that you can start using them effectively.

In this article:

  • What are these mysterious hashtags and why you should use them
  • Using hashtags responsibly
  • How to come up with good hashtags

What is a Hashtag?

Confused

A hashtag is simply, any combination of letters, numbers, even emojis that follow the “#” symbol. For example, #ThisIsAHashtag . Note that there are no spaces and no punctuation, leave those out of your hashtags.

Hashtags exist to help categorize and organize content so that it’s easier to find. 

For example, clicking on a hashtag will retrieve all the content that contains that hashtag. Another popular use case would be to search a term and all content with hashtags containing that term will be returned.

Those are the two main reasons why you should be using hashtags when marketing your business. 

Using all the words to describe what you are selling in a caption or description would make it too wordy and hard to read or understand. Fortunately, you can write a brief description and then use hashtags to include other names for your service or product, uses, situations or contexts surrounding its use, or any other related terms. 

But keep in mind that this is not a license to spam hashtags with reckless abandon.

Using Hashtags Responsibly

Hall Monitor

 

Hashtags are a deep topic that can involve a lot of strategy, planning and market knowledge. It’s also true that using hashtags in an abusive way can get your business penalized or even banned from a platform.

The good news is that a little common sense goes a long way. You don’t have to be afraid of jumping in and trying out some hashtags, or immediately run to an expensive marketing agency.

Hashtag Tips

  • No spaces or punctuation (including apostrophes)
  • Keep it simple, #NobodyWantsToReadALongHashtag
  • Hashtags should briefly identify a RELEVANT topic of conversation
  • Capitalize the first letter of each word in multi-word hashtags to improve readability. #LikeThis
  • Do not spam hashtags or hashtag every word

Exactly how many hashtags should be used on each post is richly debated. However, the table below gives you an idea of the limit (where you don’t want to be) and a recommended amount. Again that amount may vary, I’ve linked to the sources if you want to dig deeper.

 

Platform Hashtag Limit Recommended
Instagram 30 11
Facebook No Limit 1-3 (Fewer is better)
Twitter No Limit 2
Pinterest 20 2-8
LinkedIn No Limit 5

Coming Up with Hashtags

No Idea

 

There are plenty of tools to help you determine the popularity of hashtags. But before you go spending money on tools to come up with hashtags, you should start with what’s relevant to your product or service. 

A good way to organize your thoughts is by considering the hashtag categories. Instagram lists 9 categories. For brevity, we’re going to focus on the most relevant for local businesses.

Hashtag Ideas

1. Hashtags related to your brand, product or service

So this one has to be on the list, but it’s a no-brainer. Terms related to your brand and what you are selling should absolutely be included. Enough said.

2. Hashtags using location

You don’t need the attention of people who you can’t service or sell to. So including your neighborhood, your town, your city, anything that approximately encompasses your service area, will help you show up for the people you can help.

This does not mean list every town or a bunch of zip codes. With a little consideration, you can find one or two ways to identify your area. It doesn’t have to be exact, just an approximation.

3. Hashtags your competition is using

Doing a little research on how your top 3 competitors are using hashtags is an excellent way to get some ideas. It’s as easy as browsing their social media pages, free intelligence. If they are having success using those terms, you should want to be listed alongside them. It’s very likely a competitor is doing this kind of research on you.

4. Hashtags using special events or seasons

Think about how your product or service can be tied to an upcoming calendar event, like a holiday or maybe a whole season, like Summer. People love to search for these terms to see what’s happening around them. Bonus points if you do it in combination with a location hashtag as suggested above. 

5. Hashtags indicating your industry or niche

Sure you could find out what the most popular hashtags are, but as a local business, you’ll get lost in the noise if you only use the same hashtags giant corporations with huge advertising budgets are using.

Narrowing the playing field by using industry-specific hashtags or better yet, niche terms where the advertising competition is lower, will go a long way in getting you seen more often.

Get In the Game!

With these basics in mind, the important thing is that you get in the game. If you’re not already doing so, start implementing hashtags.

  • Are you going to make mistakes? Yep
  • Could a marketing agency who does this all day, every day do it better? Probably
  • Does this mean you can’t move the needle on your own? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

You will get better with time and the truth is you are losing more opportunities by not doing this at all than by not doing it perfectly.

No Idea