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An effective social media hashtag strategy that guides customers toward your business online requires a lot more than adding #ThrowbackThursday to your posts. 

Whatever social media platform you use to build your business, knowing how to research hashtags and correctly use them in your marketing will boost your brand’s growth.

This guide explains:

  • What a social media hashtag is
  • What types of social media hashtags there are
  • Why hashtags are used on social media websites
  • How to create a successful social media hashtag strategy
  • How to effectively use relevant hashtags for social media marketing

Social Media Hashtags

A hashtag is the pound sign (#) found on social media platforms which denotes a specific keyword or topic. Hashtags are used on social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Chris Messina started social media hashtags to group his related tweets on Twitter in 2007. 

Here’s the first time anyone used a hashtag:

Types of Social Media Hashtags

Using hashtags can be tremendously beneficial to your company. The social media keywords and topics you choose will depend on your marketing strategy. But before you dig into the hashtag research you’ll need to do, let’s clarify the different types. 

Here are the types of hashtags you can use to boost your online presence.

Trending hashtags: These are popular hashtags that are being used by millions of people right now. In social media marketing, value is essential and popular hashtags can generate massive awareness for your brand if users find your content helpful or interesting. 

Branded hashtags: Several people broadly use other hashtags for different purposes, and your post might get buried amidst theirs. Brand-specific hashtags make it easy for you to organize and promote content from your company and reach your target customers.

Content hashtags: For new social media hashtag users, content hashtags — like brand-topic and niche-trending hashtags — offer an effective way to boost your brand’s visibility. Branded hashtags will help you grow. However, content hashtags will help you get started.

Why Hashtags Are Used On Social Media

Social media hashtags can be a valuable tool for building your business. Let’s look at the ways you can leverage hashtags to enhance your brand. 

Use Hashtags to Build Your Brand Presence Online

Brand-specific hashtags can:

  • Give context to your social media posts
  • Establish credibility
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Promote engagement

Let’s say you’re a social media manager, and your brand name is “Zosio.” You can launch a marketing campaign and use branded hashtags like #Zosio3DayVisibilityChallenge to increase awareness. Better brand awareness means more followers and potential customers for your business. 

Increase Your Engagement

Social media hashtags increase brand exposure. The more people recognize your brand, the more social media engagement you’ll see. When you use relevant hashtags on your social media profiles, you get more followers, likes, comments, and shares.

Expand Your Customer Base

The greater your social media reach, the more your engagement and the wider your customer base. Social media hashtags are not just a boost for a brand’s profile and visibility; they also help your target customers find you.

Build a Community

Hashtags are like social media communities. For example, content and niche-specific hashtags are a way for like-minded people to come together and share valuable content. 

Hashtags like #smallbusinessowners, #femaleentrepreneurs, #b2bmarketing, and #contentwriting can make you feel you are part of something bigger — a community of people who understand you and support your interests.

Support a Social Movement

You can research hashtags about social issues or events and use them on your posts to show your support for that cause. Using a hashtag can increase awareness about social movements and mobilize others to join. Some examples include #blacklivesmatter, #bringbackourgirls, and #internationalwomensday.

Hashtags Rules to Boost Your Social Media Reach

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of developing your company’s social media hashtag strategy, let’s orient you on the basics. 

  • Follow the # with a word or phrase without any spaces, symbols, or punctuation in between, e.g., #socialmediatips, not # social media tips.
  • Ensure your account is public, so the hashtag reach isn’t limited to your followers. 
  • Use hashtags that are relevant and specific to your business or industry.
  • Make your hashtags short and simple, which makes them easy to remember and use.
  • Before you create your own hashtag, do hashtag research to ensure it is not already in use for another brand or topic.

How to Create a Successful Social Media Hashtag Strategy

An effective hashtag strategy makes your social media marketing plan successful. Here are four steps to creating a viable hashtag structure for your social media strategy.

1. Start With Competitor Analysis

To build a hashtag strategy that works, start by analyzing your competitors’ hashtag strategies and brand influencers in your niche. 

Research hashtags your competitors frequently use, the amount, and positioning. Learn how your competitors are reaching your target audience and leverage the information to your benefit.

2. Use a Hashtag Research Tool to Find the Best Keywords 

There are plenty of tools that can empower you to discover trending topics and brand-relevant hashtags. They can even generate hashtag ideas for your business. 

Here are some of the best tools to research social media hashtags:

  • Hashtagify
  • RiteTag
  • Hootsuite
  • KeyHole
  • Twitter Advanced Search
  • Trendsmap

3. Build a Social Media Hashtag Collection

After discovering the most relevant hashtags for your brand, compile these hashtags as your social media keywords.

Group these keywords into sections based on:

  • Your brand marketing goals
  • Niches related to your business
  • Business topics for your industry
  • Areas of interest
  • Social media platform

You can create sub-lists for even better organization. For instance, your marketing section might have sublists for social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and video marketing. 

4. Analyze Past Hashtagged Posts 

To know if your social media hashtag strategy is working, analyze your past posts to see which hashtags performed well. Take note of the number of hashtags you used and where they sit in your copy to see if it affects your hashtag strategy’s success.

Effective Hashtags Strategies For Each Social Media Platform

Your social media marketing plan needs a well-developed hashtag strategy. When you know the best hashtags for your brand and how to use them on social media networks, you’ll make it easier for your target customers to find you online.

Tips for Using Hashtags on Instagram

Here are a few strategies and ideas to develop your Instagram hashtags:

  • Use the Explore feature and input hashtags you like. The results will include related hashtag ideas you can also use.
  • Ensure Instagram hasn’t banned any of the hashtags you want to use.
  • Engage with posts in the top position for your hashtag.
  • Follow your hashtags to stay up-to-date on what’s happening.
  • Add your hashtags as the first comment on your Instagram posts to avoid a cluttered caption.
  • Switch to an Instagram creator or business account. Personal profiles are limited and won’t give you the same engagement insights to see how hashtags perform. 

There is an optimal number of hashtags for each Instagram feature:

  • Instagram story: 10
  • Reels: 1-10
  • Feed post: 30

Tips for Using Hashtags on Twitter

Here are a few strategies and ideas to improve your hashtag strategy on Twitter:

  • Use the # Explore feature in the search bar to find related keyword suggestions for hashtags you use.
  • To see trending hashtags, click Trending in the Explore section.
  • You can add hashtags anywhere in your tweets.
  • You can also use hashtags when you comment, reply, or retweet. 
  • Twitter recommends using a maximum of two hashtags.

Tips for Using Hashtags on Facebook

Since most users’ profiles are private, it’s difficult to track the engagement a Facebook post receives from a hashtag. However, you can evaluate how much public profiles are engaging with your brand-specific hashtags by searching with your brand name in place of “keyword.”

Other tips for building a hashtag strategy on Facebook include:

  • Use the search bar to find related hashtags you can use.
  • Use no more than 1-2 hashtags on your posts.
  • Include hashtags anywhere in your post.

Tips for Using Hashtags on LinkedIn

Here are some things you can do to build your hashtag strategy on LinkedIn:

  • Use the search bar to get related hashtag suggestions. LinkedIn also automatically suggests relevant hashtags as you create your posts.
  • Find recommended trending hashtags in the My Network section.
  • Follow hashtags to stay updated on posts related to a particular topic.
  • Don’t use more than 1-2 LinkedIn hashtags.
  • You can add hashtags anywhere in your posts or articles.

Tips for Using Hashtags on Pinterest

Pinterest has a unique interface which makes the hashtag strategy slightly different from other social media platforms. 

1. Go to the search bar and type a keyword or keyphrase.

2. When you search a keyword, you’ll see relevant posts grouped in sections like this: 

3. Create hashtags based on the related terms found in the bubbles below the search bar. For the example above, some hashtags would be #digitalmarketingstrategy, #socialmediamarketingstrategy, #marketingstrategytemplate.

4. The first sets of pins are the trending posts for the keyword you searched. Mine them to develop your own original content. 

You can also derive the right hashtags from them. Based on the examples above, hashtags could be #seomarketing, #contentmarketing, or #socialmediamarketing.

When posting to Pinterest, use 2-5 hashtags and no more than 20 hashtags per pin.

If social media hashtag research is not a part of your marketing strategy already, start using it to grow your brand online as soon as possible. Social media hashtags, although undervalued, can produce fantastic marketing results. 

To get the best outcome from using hashtags, you need to provide valuable content, engage with your online community, and above all be authentic.Once your social media is driving visitors toward your business, you’ll need to make sure you have a fast, reliable website to greet them. Check out Bluehost’s hosting packages today.

  • Machielle Thomas

    Machielle is a content enthusiast who has a passion for bridging the gap between audiences and brands through impactful storytelling. Machielle has also spoken at dozens of WordCamps throughout the years.

    Texas State University
    Previous Experience
    Brand Content, Content Marketing, Brand Lead, Operations Lead, Course Instructor
    Other publications
    Shopify, Contently
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