Megan's Social Media Marketing Show - episode 6 - Are Hashtags Worth the Effort?

ep06 - Are Hashtags Worth the Effort?

show Feb 03, 2021

Hashtags seem to mystify people. And, more than once, I’ve been pulled into a side conversation where someone shamefully admits they don’t even know how they work.

If that’s you – fear not – we’ll cover all you need to know about them in this episode including: 

  • What are hashtags?
  • How do hashtags work?
  • Why should I use hashtags?
  • Do I really need to use them on all the platforms?
  • How do I know which hashtags to use or how do I find good ones?

I’ll answer all these questions and more on this episode of Megan’s Social Media Marketing Show! 

 

 

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Transcript: 

Should you use hashtags? Where should you put them on Instagram? Are they even worth the trouble? I’ll answer all these questions and more on this episode of Megan’s Social Media Marketing Show! 

Hashtags seem to mystify people. And, more than once, I’ve been pulled into a side conversation where someone shamefully admits they don’t even know how they work.

If that’s you – fear not – we’ll cover all you need to know about them in this episode.

 

What are hashtags?

Hashtags are the combination of a pound symbol and a word or phrase without spaces. They are called hashtags because the pound symbol looks like a hashmark – think the crisscross shape of hashbrowns. And the word “tag” signifies that it belongs to a category. It could have just as easily been called a “poundtag,” but, hey the people who make the stuff get to name it. So, hashtags it is!

 

How do hashtags work?

I like the way Russell Brunson describes hashtags in his book, Traffic Secrets. If you envision your favorite social media platform as a huge filing cabinet, hashtags are the filing folders.  

The hashtag became widely used in 2009 when people wanted an easy way to group conversations on the same topic or from people in the same group. 

When you click on a hashtag, the platform shows you a results page of all the posts that include that hashtag, as if some digital librarian saw your request, went to the filing cabinet and pulled out the folder labeled “#berniesmittens” so you could page through all the funny pictures from when Bernie Sanders wore knitted mittens and seemingly pouted in a chair at President Biden’s 2021 Inauguration and started an Internet frenzy of memes.

 

Why should I use hashtags?

Hashtags extend the reach of your post. If you post without hashtags, it will be shown in the feeds of those who follow you. If you use hashtags in your post, people who are searching for that hashtag will be shown your post, whether or not they follow you.

Are you starting to see why hashtags are so powerful? They show your posts to people who would never have known about you otherwise and these are people who are searching for your content. They want what you got!

When you think about it that way, hashtags are little Internet matchmakers. Swipe right for that! *wink wink* (That’s a little Tinder joke for ya.)

 

Do I really need to use them on all the platforms?

I hope by now you’re catching on that I’m pro-hashtag. But, I’ll admit that all platforms are not created equal when it comes to using hashtags.

I’ll quickly go through the major platforms and tell you how they work and whether or not their worth using:

 

Twitter: Since the hashtag was invented on this platform, they are very effective here. Twitter even shows you suggestions for trending hashtags. The most effective tweets use one hashtag but it doesn’t hurt to use more if the topic calls for it. 

 

Facebook: Hashtags did not originate on Facebook. You can use them in your posts, but they were programmed into the platform as an afterthought. The major drawback is you can only view the posts from public pages or profiles when you click on a hashtag. Considering most profiles are private, this is very unhelpful. Thus, no one uses them. I wouldn’t waste my time on hashtags on Facebook.

 

Pinterest: Hashtags are not native to Pinterest either. However, the platform has done some major programming to make them work hard for you here. I recommend including several hashtags per pin that are specific to the subject of that particular pin.

 

TikTok: Hashtags are crucial on TikTok. This is how different trends and dance challenges are organized. Plus, the way the platform shows you content is wholly dependent upon your interactions with previous hashtags and content. Your caption is limited to 100 characters, including the hashtags, so use them wisely.

 

LinkedIn: Similar to Pinterest, hashtags were more recently incorporated into the platform. Use 3-4 hashtags targeted to the topic of the post, and not your brand.

 

Instagram: I get from 10-50% of my reach comes from hashtags! I highly recommend using them on Instagram. I also always get follow-up questions of how many do I use and where do I place them?

Social Insider did a study in August 2019 of 650k+ Instagram accounts and found 87% of brands place the hashtags in the original posts.

"Although using your hashtags in the caption seems to bring slightly better engagement, the difference is not big enough to make a significant impact. (.5% or less)."

So, it doesn’t really matter where you put them.

The best number of hashtags to use is a hard question to answer because there are many factors. My best advice: find the best hashtags for your niche, the more specific, the better. 

 

How do I know which hashtags to use or how do I find good ones?

Finding good hashtags for your brand or even individual posts is more of an art than a science. Finding the right mix may take some time. Start with the ones that seem obvious, test them, and see how they do.

Another tip is to look at the hashtags your competitors or similar brands in your market are using and try those.

 

To wrap it all up:

To summarize everything I’ve said in this episode about hashtags if you only take one thing away, I want it to be this:

Yes, it is worth your time to use hashtags in your posts.

However, if I had to create a Megan's hierarchy of social media needs it would be:

Good: Content is king! Post whether or not you use hashtags

Better: Use hashtags. Throw a few on your post. The worst thing it could do is bring you a few more people.

Best: Quality over Quantity. Find the hashtags that your audience is following and engaging with and use those.

 

I hoped this helped you understand how and when to use hashtags. Thanks so much for listening. I’m [hashtag] blessed you did!