Building a brand in today’s business landscape requires social media. Fortunately, the power of social media can be great without using too much time or money. To earn an ROI while keeping your input to a minimum, you will need a strategy. Our recommendation? Start with a hashtag strategy.
Though social media platforms are continuously improving their algorithms, they cannot perfectly deliver the correct content to the correct people all of the time. Hashtags are your tool to “take matters into your own hands”. This sounds like more work, but once you build your strategy you’ll be putting the same amount of content in front of better people for your business, and many more of them than before.
An easy way to understand Hashtags is to think of them similar to a keyword-search. In other words, it’s like entering a word into the Google Search Bar. On social media, however, when you search a word what you are shown are other posts and people hashtag-ing that same word. The order in which people are listed is determined by how successful a person has been while using that hashtag (e.g., likes, comments, followers, etc.). Your goal is to be one of the top posts/people shown when searching a hashtag. Being featured highlights you to the other people searching that term – like with SEO. This is how you begin building an audience.
Targeting with Hashtags
As we discussed above, being featured, or highly ranked, is a goal for our hashtag strategy. This is a stepping stone to getting more eyes on your content, thus more interactions and a greater following. The good news is that social media is set-up to connect you. Like-interests with like-interests. People can not only search a topic they’re interested, but can also follow a hashtag ongoing – building an “online community”. Hashtags in summary, are what allow you to target an audience having a particular interest/need. If you’re a business, this is a Sales dream.
How To Use Hashtags
Begin by looking into the market you’re trying to attract. Keeping this in mind, select your page’s niche. By choosing where you categorize yourself (hint: update your bio to clarify this as well), you will build a larger audience. It sounds counterintuitive, but people are looking online for someone to relate to, to gain value from. If you jump around then people will begin falling off – this applies to your content, your voice, and also your hashtags. Once you choose a niche, study up on popular hashtags within that niche.
Directions For Using Hashtags On Instagram
Here we’ll focus on succeeding using hashtags on Instagram. We’re choosing Instagram due to its recent growth in popularity. It also seems to have the most robust hashtag program. Facebook, too, has started a beta opportunity for advanced Instagram analytics within Business Manager. Take a look here to sign up yourself.
To begin, simply visit the Instagram search tab in your app to enter a term or phrase (no spaces). For example, enter “#marketingmaster”. A large number of hashtags similar to this will show up for you to choose from. Pick the hashtags that *works best.
*Social Media Educators are facing controversy about which hashtags work best, and how many you should apply on each post. Some influencers suggest picking only hashtags being used hundreds of thousands of times. Others suggest that you do more research, and instead select hashtags being used by people with a similar amount of likes on their posts as you. The reasoning for the former, is that more people are likely following the popular hashtags, thus more people will see your post. The latter counters by suggesting that, if you use hashtags out of your “league” you’ll likely get bumped and only those with the most followed accounts will be seen and featured. Test both to see what works for you.
Regarding the number of hashtags to use, Xceptional has landed on about 11 being a comfortable amount, though many people use up to the 30 maximum. Why so many? There is good reason to believe that using more hashtags allows you to get more bang for each post. Again, play around to see what earns you more interactions from your audience.
Differences In Social Media Platforms
We certainly see unspoken norms amongst social media platforms. LinkedIn hashtag strategies differ from Instagram’s, and Facebook’s varies as well. What we mean by this is, it may not work to replicate the exact posts and hashtags from one platform to another. For example, we suggest limiting hashtags on LinkedIn to only a few, as opposed to the 10+ many use on Instagram.
Hashtag Strategy Checklist
Keep the following list on-hand when using hashtags:
- Focus on a niche: Narrowing down your brand is key to having a loyal audience
- Learn your audience: Study what hashtags are Trending in your Industry/Niche
- Offer Variety: This applies to hashtags and content (within your niche). You can certainly repeat hashtags, but do not use the same set of hashtags each time. Keep your basics ready, and try new targeting words to continue to build new interactions.
- Tailor your hashtag strategy to your platform. What you do for Instagram will likely differ from what you do for Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Create a hashtag specific to you: Whether it’s for your business or simply a campaign/event you’re running, making up a hashtag that is new (or minimally used) to brand yourself is a great way to get people to talk about you. This also makes it easy for you to search people using your branded hashtag. You can then study your audience and interact directly with anyone using it. For example: #xceptionalmarketing
- Continuously Improve: Test new hashtags and keep an eye on analytics (also use your content calendar to record your previously used hashtags). Always learning, always improving.
Missed our last post about content calendars? Take a peek here to start from square one.