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How to Use Hashtags to Improve Your Brand’s Social Media Presence

how-to-use-hashtagsHashtags have been around for years, but many marketers still haven’t mastered them. The ones who don’t ignore them completely tend to abuse them, resulting in a very small group of brands that actually use them correctly. If you want to be part of that group – and you should! – check out these tips on how to use hashtags to benefit your brand.

Use Common Hashtags to Help People Find Your Content

The main point of hashtags is to make it easy for readers to find content related to the subject they’re interested in. So if you’re writing about content marketing, be sure to tag it with #contentmarketing. If you’re writing about cookies, tag your content with related terms, like #cookies, #baking, #dessert, etc. This way, you know anyone who finds your posts through hashtags is already interested in what you have to say on the subject, which is half the battle! Now you have a better chance of them reading, liking, commenting on, or even sharing your content, all because you used some helpful hashtags.

Get In On the Latest News with Trending Hashtags

While the use of one or two common hashtags should be a staple of your social media posts, be sure to mix it up with some trending tags, too. These are hashtags that are hot today and will catch the eye of readers who want to hear the latest news. They often have to do with current events, so when major things happen – such as when a celebrity dies, a popular event begins, or social media users start playing a game – you’ll probably see a related hashtag. Some sites, like Twitter, make it easy to see the trending hashtags because they list the top ten on the homepage. You can also use or a few other tools to find the trending tags on Twitter and other sites. Some examples of hashtags that have trended recently include #SXSW, #TravelTuesday, and #ThingsIWantSiriToSay.

Make Up Your Own Hashtags for Your Brand

You don’t have to simply stick to the hashtags that everyone is already using. You can also make your own, like many major brands have done. This way, your fans can easily find your content. You can keep it simple by using your brand name as a hashtag. Plenty of brands do this, which is why you see hashtags like #DunkinDonuts and #OREO, or #mktgscope for all The Marketing Scope posts we put up. But you can also make your tagline into a hashtag, such as Skittles’ #TastetheRainbow. Of course, some people might still use it for posts not related to your brand, especially if it’s not super specific because your tagline is also a popular phrase. But when you combine it with a hashtag of your brand’s name, you can make it pretty easy for people to find your content.

Come Up with Unique Hashtags for Each Campaign

If you’re having trouble finding trending hashtags that relate to your content, why not make your own? Unlike the common tags that you will also use, or the tags with just your brand’s name, hashtags that are specific to each campaign will be temporary. You might use them for a few weeks or maybe a few months, depending on the length of your campaign. For example, Red Bull won a Shorty Award for its #PutaCanOnIt hashtag, which lasted a few months. DiGiorno Pizza’s #DiGiorNOYOUDIDNT was also pretty successful because it was amusing, and the brand live tweeted the hashtag during football games, including the Super Bowl. So if you’re releasing a new product or service, consider making a hashtag to bring attention to it. And if you’re not making any changes but still want to get some attention for your brand, you can run a contest with its own hashtag or even piggyback on a special event – like DiGiorno Pizza did – and create a fun tag to use while you live tweet.

Use Them Everywhere

You probably associate hashtags mostly with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They are popular on these social networks, so you should certainly use them on all of your company’s social media pages, including Tumblr, YouTube, and Pinterest. But you can feature your hashtags in other forms of marketing and advertising, too. Examples include television commercials, print ads, billboards, flyers, and your website. After all, hashtags are so mainstream now that you don’t have to guide people through using them with a link like you used to have to do. Now people expect to see them, even outside of social media platforms, so they’re fair game for any form of advertising or marketing for your brand.

Keep It Simple

Your hashtags should be descriptive, yet not too long that people will have trouble remembering them or even typing them. Mashing a few words together into a hashtag is fine. Mashing a whole sentence into a hashtag is not. You can apply this tip to the number of hashtags you include in each message, too, which means you should use them sparingly. In general, that means a few, though the perfect number of hashtags seems to vary by social network. On Twitter, the magic number is two. On Facebook, one or two is best, though three to five is also fine. On Instagram, it’s more than 11. Basically, on most social networks, you can’t go wrong by picking the top few hashtags that most relate to your content and brand.

Do you use hashtags? Which ones do you use the most?