More than 60% of the world’s population uses social media. In the United States alone, about 90% of its entire population actively uses social media. This means there are over 302.5 million active social media users as of 2023.
These numbers represent the amount of social media reach your business potentially has when you run a social media campaign. But in reality, these numbers are far from what your posts would get on a consistent basis, and several factors determine why this is so.
One way of improving your reach is by integrating a hashtag campaign into your social media strategy. Hashtags can help boost your social media reach and engagement. However, it takes more than just adding #ThrowbackThursday on your posts to make it happen.
In this blog, we’ll teach you how to use hashtags effectively to improve your reach and gain more social media impressions, by delving into:
• What Is a Hashtag?
• Why Should You Use Hashtags?
• The Four Qualities of Effective Hashtags
• How To Find the Right Hashtags for Your Social Media Campaign
• How To Use Hashtags Effectively on Every Social Media Platform
What Is a Hashtag?
The hashtag is one of the most easily recognizable symbols on social media today. A lot of people know of it, but they don’t really know what a hashtag is.
So, what is a hashtag, exactly?
A hashtag is a metadata tag popularly used on social media to categorize content. It primarily contains a keyword or phrase preceded by the hash (#) symbol, which is called an octothorpe.
The hashtag first debuted on Twitter (now known as X) in 2007. Web marketing specialist Chris Messina invented the hashtag to “allow similarly interested folks to find each other.” According to Messina, he designed it to create an inter-platform link between like-minded people – and it worked!
Inventor of the hashtag, Chris Messina’s first tweet about its usage – (Image Source: Google)
Today, the hashtag transcends platforms and is widely used across the globe. People now use it for marketing campaigns, to express support for a cause or to begin conversions for social media engagement.
Why Should You Use Hashtags?
Hashtags were invented mainly to bring order to the chaos that is social media. By grouping similar conversations together, audiences can easily find content that matters to them.
Today, its use cases have evolved, making it a powerful tool for growing your online presence. But what is hashtagging supposed to accomplish? Although it doesn’t directly increase your followers, you can still improve your social media reach by:
• Placing in the top posts for a given topic
• Gaining placement in front of people’s feeds
Here are other ways you can benefit from including a hashtag campaign in your social media strategy:
Adds Context to Social Media Posts
Short-form content is king in social media, hence the rise of TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. This also extends to social media captions. And when shorter content is preferred, hashtags help you add context to your content. By using hashtags, you can generate more social media impressions without relying on a wall of text.
Helps Your Audience Find You
Audiences can follow hashtags on social media platforms to find the content they’re most interested in. For instance, they can view #travel for traveling videos and snapshots of the most beautiful places around the world. Or they can also look at #food for trending recipes or restaurants.
You can also leverage hashtags to make your business more discoverable. Creating beautiful content and tagging them with popular hashtags can significantly increase your social media reach and bring you closer to your target audience.
Increase Engagement With Followers
Social media engagement posts like asking your followers questions or staging contests can be a great way to generate engagement with your brand. But these posts generally work when your brand already has a considerable following.
You can, however, increase the reach of your engagement posts for social media by using hashtags to participate in larger conversations or trending topics. These hashtags allow your social media engagement posts to appear in front of a larger audience.
Raises Brand Awareness
Aside from following popular hashtags, you can also use branded hashtags to increase brand awareness. These can be your own brand name or a brand tagline.
Some of the most famous examples are:
• #JifRapChallenge by Jif
• #NationalFriedChickenDay by KFC
• #ShareACoke by Coca-Cola
• #PlayInside by Nike
• #LetsDoLunch by Domino’s Pizza
While using hashtags about a particular topic, include your branded hashtags in your engagement posts for social media. Aside from bringing awareness to your brand, this also helps your audience find specific posts you’ve done in the past.
Choosing the Right Hashtags: The Four Qualities of an Effective Hashtag
To learn how to use hashtags effectively for social media engagement, you must know which hashtags to choose. Effective hashtags must have the following qualities:
• Relevant: Your hashtags should match the type of content you’re tagging. Otherwise, it will look spammy and might cause your audience to avoid your brand altogether.
• Diverse: Look for hashtags that are popular enough to have a large number of posts but not too popular that your content could get lost. Then, diversify your hashtags to amplify your reach.
• Alive: It’s not enough to choose a popular hashtag. It must also be alive, which means new content is still being tagged for it to be considered relevant. For instance, #ChristmasDay2020 might have millions of posts, but it won’t affect your social media impressions.
• Reachable: Good hashtags can be dominated by popular accounts. So, it’s vital to choose hashtags that generally have similar popularity to yours to gain a more favorable placement.
How To Find the Right Hashtags for Your Social Media Campaign
Now that you know what types of hashtags you need to look for, it’s time to consider how and where to look.
Here are some ways you can find the right hashtags for your hashtag campaign:
Use Social Media Listening Tools
You can leverage social media tools like Hootsuite or SproutSocial to identify popular hashtags relevant to your content. These tools allow you to monitor conversations made by your target audience to see which topics they’re most interested in. Analyze their performance to find placement opportunities with a particular hashtag.
Analyze Your Previous Posts
Sometimes, the best place to look is within your own social media profile. Take a look at your previous posts and identify which topics worked for you in the past. Determine which hashtags resulted in higher social engagement and impressions. If they didn’t have hashtags, you could still gain valuable insights by determining what topics worked for your audience. Then, explore popular hashtags within that particular topic.
Monitor Your Competition
Researching your competitor’s strategy is a great way to inform your own. It can be quite helpful in finding popular hashtags relevant to your brand. Start by identifying popular businesses in your industry. Then, take a look at what hashtags they’re using in their posts and bio.
Research Trending Hashtags
You can also use platform-specific features to find trending hashtags in your industry. For example, you can find trending Twitter hashtags or Instagram Reels hashtags just by using the search bar. Take a look at what hashtags they’re using to find additional placement opportunities for your social media engagement posts.
How To Use Hashtags Effectively on Every Social Media Platform
“What is hashtagging?” used to be a question asked in the early days of social media. Back then, hashtags were primarily used on X, the site previously known as Twitter.
But today, they have become a popular social media tool that transcends platforms. Although they are mainly used the same way, some nuances are involved in using hashtags for specific platforms.
Here are a few tips on using hashtags for engagement posts for social media for each network:
How To Use Hashtags on Facebook
• Use them anywhere inside your Facebook caption.
• You can use hashtags to organize topics inside a group.
• Use the search bar to find posts under particular hashtags on Facebook.
• Use the URL facebook.com/hashtag/_____ with the keyword you’re using to measure its performance.
How To Use Hashtags on Instagram
• Include hashtags in your bio and captions.
• Add Instagram reel hashtags to make reels more discoverable.
• You can use hashtags in your comments when engaging with followers.
• Use hashtags to add context to Stories.
• Search hashtags using the Tags Tab under Explore.
• Gain access to hashtag performance using Instagram Insights.
How To Use TikTok Hashtags
• Add hashtags to your content through its description.
• You can view trending TikTok hashtags on Discover or other topics using the search bar.
• Combine niche and trending hashtags for maximum visibility.
How To Use Hashtags on Twitter or X
• Add a hashtag anywhere inside your tweet.
• The location of the hashtag serves different purposes: at the start (emphasis), in the middle (highlighting a keyword) or at the end (to add context).
• You can find trending Twitter hashtags on the right side of the page.
• Type the hashtagged keyword in the search bar to find other tweets.
• Always consider the character limit when using hashtags.
Supercharge Your Social Media Marketing Capabilities With Thrive
If you are looking for a capable social media team to spearhead your organic social efforts, our team can help. Thrive Internet Marketing is a full-service agency that maximizes your digital capabilities to fuel your business’s growth.
Schedule a free consultation with us to learn more about how we can elevate your business through social media.