Best Practices for Your Hashtag Strategy
Social media management can be #challenging, especially with algorithm updates, new trends and evolving best practices. Sometimes, it can feel like the rules are always changing, making it hard to keep up.
Hashtags, in particular, are one of the marketing tools that Social Media Managers must keep up to date on. Optimizing your hashtag strategy is an important step when it comes to content marketing, which is why we’ve taken the time to put together a list of best practices across each social platform to help you feel more prepared when it comes to creating branded content. As a bonus, we’ve created a full year’s worth of inspiration with our 2021 Hashtag Holiday Calendar, available as a free PDF for our newsletter subscribers.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, hashtags are one of the most important tools a social media manager has at their disposal. Hashtags can do a lot for us when utilized properly:
- Find content inspiration
- Discover new trends
- Amp up your marketing campaigns
- Drive leads
- Discover influencers and/or brands to partner with
But, as with all facets of social media, there are a lot of “rules” surrounding how best to use hashtags. Which platforms do hashtags work on, and should we avoid using them on specific platforms? How many tags should you use per post? Does that count vary by platform as well? How can marketers find the best hashtags to use within their niche?
Here, we’ve tried our best to answer those questions for you and help simplify one of the hallmarks of social media marketing: The Hashtag.
Remember when we used to refer to “#” as the pound sign? The hashtag is the pound sign followed by a word or phrase with no spaces or punctuation marks. EX: #PerfectPartnerSolutions #Blog #Marketing
Fun Fact: Merriam-Webster officially added Hashtag to the dictionary in 2014.
Hashtag usage first became popular thanks to Twitter and has now spread across social media platforms, with Instagram taking the lead – allowing up to 30 hashtags per post.
General Uses for Hashtags
- As a way to increase post visibility and engagement.
- For Brand Awareness: You should have an official hashtag, unique to your brand; one that should be included in every single post or tweet you publish.
- To group like-minded posts and photos together around a topic or event. EX: #TheOscars, #DemDebate, #SuperBowlLIV
- As a search method when looking for posts (or to make sure your post is included in searches). EX: #Food, #WeddingDresses, #SanDiegoArt
- As an analytics tool to track campaign reach and performance.
- Great for recall and providing additional context. EX: #BreakingNews
- Great for holidays and pop culture events. EX: #PiDay, #MotivationMonday, #TBT
How to Use Hashtags to Increase Engagement
- Follow, Like and comment on the posts and accounts that utilize hashtags relevant to your business or niche.
- Analyze the competition: which hashtags does your competition use? Start adding these hashtags to your posts to increase visibility, as long as they line up with the content you’re sharing.
- Create a hashtag unique to your campaign. You don’t want your brand’s campaign hashtag to be one already in use by another brand or business. Make sure your hashtags are unique so people can easily find and associate it with you.
- Find Hashtags specific to your location. Again, if you only use broad hashtags that have millions of posts, like #Fashion or #Food, your posts will get lost. Use tags tailored to help your community and the followers who are more likely to engage find you. Ex: #SolanaBeachSmallBusiness or #LocallyOwnedinCA
- Make sure your hashtag is easy to read. Capitalization is not needed, but helps with tags that have repeat letters or similar looking lowercase letters.
- Make sure your hashtag means what you think it means! Don’t add hashtags without searching to see what other content is being posted. You could inadvertently include a hashtag that lands your brand or client in the feed with content they would rather not be associated with.
- Use ironic hashtags with caution and be wary of jumping on a trending tag before you understand the backstory.
- Make sure your hashtags are spelled correctly. Sometimes, even the suggested hashtags are misspelled.
- Social media platforms now allow you to “follow” specific hashtags. Use this as a way to track relevant content.
Best Practices for Utilizing Hashtags and Saved Searches on Twitter
- Save searches for your brand hashtag or relevant tags you want to follow.
- Tweets with one or two hashtags perform better than posts with three or more. Use them wisely!
- Retweets perform about 40% better with hashtags.
Using Hashtags on LinkedIn for Further Reach
- People can follow hashtags on LinkedIn so be sure to tag topics in your niche to get in front of people who want to see your content (a good rule on all platforms).
- You can include hashtags in your bios, articles, and comments.
- Avoid abbreviated hashtags. Use #Instagram not #IG
Best Practices for your Facebook Hashtag Strategy
- Posts on Facebook tend to perform better without hashtags, but we do suggest you include your Brand Hashtag and use others sparingly.
- Using too many hashtags has been known to decrease engagement.
Avoid Using Hashtags on Pinterest
- Pinterest has a robust search function, so using search terms instead of hashtags will be much more effective than clicking on a hashtag.
- Think of Pinterest as a visual search engine. Your keywords and descriptions on your pins are important on this platform, as are the image titles you give to the pins you upload.
Best Practices for Your Instagram Hashtag Strategy
- Instagram is where hashtags rule, so be sure to use them on each post.
- Posts with 11 or more hashtags tend to have a higher reach, but you can use up to 30 per post.
- You can keep your post body visually “cleaner” by moving the hashtags to the first comment.
- Test your posts by editing them to add or delete hashtags in the post body later to boost visibility.
- Use apps like Later or Preview to find and save suggested hashtags.
- Instagram also gives you the option to follow hashtags. This allows you to do several things: monitor your competition, monitor your branded hashtag and see content relevant to your niche.
- You can “hide” up to 10 tags in Stories by using the same color font as your background.
When a Hashtag Becomes a Holiday
Nowadays, almost every day of the year has a holiday associated with it. These “social media holidays” are becoming an increasingly popular source of marketing content. Here are some of our favorite upcoming Hashtag Holidays and relevant tags to use when sharing posts. Keep scrolling to learn how to access our 2021 Hashtag Holiday Marketing Calendar.
January 13: National Clean Off Your Desk Day
This is a great way to capitalize on resolutions to be more organized and the Marie Kondo craze. Before and After photos or a time lapse video are two ideas to engage your followers.
Suggested hashtags: #deskgoals #deskinspiration #deskorganization #deskdecor #desk #workspace
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February 20: Love Your Pet Day Even if your office doesn’t allow bringing non-service animals to work, sharing photos of the pets of staff members can help add personality to your brand. Plus, people love to show off their Fur Babies! Suggested Hashtags: #loveyourpetday #loveyourpet #petfriendly
March 22: National Goof-Off Day Show off your silly side! If your brand is serious or talks about serious topics, this will be a fun way to highlight another side to your followers. Suggested Hashtags: #nationalgoofoffday #goofingoff #goofingoffatwork
April 13: National Scrabble Day Do you have this old board-game collecting dust somewhere? Create some fun quotes using the letter tiles (letterboard style) or use the tiles to share a promo code for an upcoming sale. Suggested Hashtags: #scrabble #scrabbletiles #scrabbleart #scrabbleletters
May – National Get Caught Reading Month Share your favorite business book or staff favorites leading into the summer months when readers are looking for reading material. Choose one book per week to capitalize on the tag all month long. Suggested Hashtags: #getcaughtreading #getcaughtreadingmonth #bookclub #readthis #recommendedreading
June 5 – National Donut Day This is the perfect excuse to bring donuts to work! Photos of food always do well on Instagram. Plan ahead and order from your local shop so you can location tag them in your post. Suggested Hashtags: #donutday #donut #nationaldonutday
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July 15 – National Give Something Away Day
This is the perfect occasion to host a BOGO (buy one, get one) sale! Start promoting the offer in advance to truly take advantage of the additional traffic.
Suggested Hashtags: #giveaway #givesomethingawayday #freewithpurchase
August 7 – National Beer Day
CHEERS! This is a great day to celebrate your favorite local beers or breweries. Tagging brands in stories or posts will help to increase overall reach and engagement.
Suggested Hashtags: #nationalbeerday #beerday #localbrewery #brewery
September 30 – National Podcast Day
Do you have a favorite podcast? Take this opportunity to share it with your followers and ask for their favorites in return. The conversation will be great for engagement and you’ll no doubt discover new podcasts to listen to!
Suggested Hashtags: #podcast #listentothis #podcast #podcasts #podcasting
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Today is National Podcast Day so now’s the time to share! What are you listening to? Do you have a Podcast you want others to check out? Tag them and name them inthe comments so we can spread the love. Speaking of spreading the love, that’s the tagline of one of my favorite podcasts, hosted by @katherinemcclellandcoaching and @kristakimcoaching. I wrote about it on my blog last year and have since been introduced to so many more great podcasts I try hard to keep up on. What are your favorites that you’d recommend? #podcasts #podcasting #holyfuckpodcast #femaleempowerment #spreadthelove #podcastersofinstagram #podcastlife #podcaster #podcast #podcastsofinstagram #podcast🎧 #podcasters #podcastshow #podcastlove #podcastcommunity #podcasthost #podcaststudio #podcastjunkie #podcastrecommendation #socialmedia #contentmarketing #digitalmarketing #contentstrategy #socialcontent #visualcontent #marketing #socialstratgy #digitalstrategy #perfectpartnersolutions
October 10 – World Mental Health Day
This is an opportunity to speak with your followers about self-care and ways to nourish yourself outside of work. From hiking to therapy, everyone deals with mental stress differently. Share a link or mention a non-profit organization in this space that you support.
Suggested Hashtags: #mentalhealthday #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthsupport
November 28 – Small Business Saturday
Showcase your small business by offering a special discount, early bird pricing on an event you are hosting, introducing a new product or taking followers on a video tour of your space. This is a big day for small businesses, so be sure to take advantage of the additional traffic by utilizing your local hashtags as well.
Suggested Hashtags: #smallbizsaturday #shopsmall #smallbusinesssaturday
December 4 – National Cookie Day
Host a cookie exchange among your employees or provide cookies to your customers. This is the perfect opportunity to support local businesses by highlighting and tagging the local bakery who supplied the cookies for this special day.
Suggested Hashtags: #nationalcookieday #cookieday #cookies
2021 Hashtag Holiday Marketing Calendar
We love celebrating holidays on social media, as it gives us reason to create and post content as well as allowing us to engage with new accounts. These quirky holidays also allow your brand to feature a bit more personality in your content schedule.
If you’re interested in implementing more marketing holidays into your content calendar, take a look at this preview from our 2021 hashtag marketing calendar and Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to download the full 2021 Content Planning Calendar right away!
And if you’re still struggling with which relevant 30 hashtags to include in your Instagram posts, we suggest you check out Hashtag Lists, a company who does all the work for you by creating hashtags based on your industry or topic. They offer free lists so you can take a peek at what you can expect or purchase – at very reasonable costs – lists for content you plan to post about in the future.
In social media (and life in general) it’s important to give credit where credit is due. Here are some articles I found helpful when researching this piece.