Whether you know why they are there or not, it’s pretty safe to say we all see a #hashtag or a two on a daily basis. They’ve spread from their native Twitter to almost every other social sharing platform in just a few short years (fun fact: the first hashtag was tweeted by Chris Messina in 2007.) But what do they really do? Even though all hashtags come in the same format, the purpose and function on each network is different. The general consensus throughout all social networks is we should be using hashtags, so here’s a list of how the top 5 social platforms use hashtags, and which ones will give you the most #bangforyourbuck when it comes to visibility and engagement.
Twitter is where the hashtag all began, so it’s no wonder why they’re so widely used by tweeters. Hashtags show up in a tweet as a hyperlinked “#” followed by a word or phrase. For example, when you click “#marketing” in the tweet below, twitter will show you all tweets that have used that hashtag.
— Data Nerds (@_Datanerds) July 3, 2015
So, what can that do for you and your brand? Well, they do two main things. First, using hashtags gets your name out into the twitterverse. That way, anyone interested in that tag can see your tweet, and visibility is key fore more engagement. Second, using 1-2 hashtags on each tweet gets you 2x more engagement with other twitter users. This means more retweets (greater reach), favourites (the equivalent to a Facebook “Like”), replies (direct communication) and new followers. So if 1-2 hashtags gets you 2x more interaction, 3+ must get you even more right? Wrong. Using more than 2 hashtags per tweet actually decreases user engagement by 17%, so pick your tags wisely and make sure they are relevant to your brand.
Instagram is a rare beast in that it practically runs on hashtags alone. While the app was made to share photos with friends and followers, it quickly became a new platform to market yourself or your brand. Instagram is a true case of “more-is-more” with the most user engagement being seen on posts with 11+ hashtags. Instagram allows you to include up to 30 tags in the description of your photo, but you can get around this and attach more by posting them in the comment section as well. Just like Twitter, clicking on these hashtags will lead you to a list of all the posts across Instagram that contain it. So, if you’re crazy about hashtags and want to get more reach in more areas of interest, do it on Instagram, it can’t hurt!
So how does Facebook hold up in the world of hashtags? It turns out, not so well. Although you see them regularly attached to posts, posts without hashtags actually have more reader engagement than posts with hashtags. In fact, including them has no effect on how many people your post will reach or how many people you will engage. However, there is proof that using more than 2 hashtags decreases engagement much like it does on Twitter. Posts that include 10+ tags have 1/3 the engagement that a post with 1-2 hashtags, making it clear we need to reel our hashtag-loving selves in while on Facebook, save it for Instagram where they are truly appreciated.
Just when you thought you knew all there was to know about hashtagging around the internet, Google+ goes and throws something new at us. Google+ is the only platform to automatically insert hashtags based on the content of your post. This service takes all guess work out of deciding which hashtags you should use and which will get you the most visibility. Better yet, if you don’t like what Google+ chooses for you, you can change them! You can also add hashtags to the comment section, much like Instagram, to double your chances of being seen. Google+ also includes a feature that shows related hashtags, making it easier to for brands to create content based on what their audience is looking for. Google+ is pretty much the next generation of hashtagging.
Pinterest is the odd one out in this list. Although there is use of hashtags, it’s much less than other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. But, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need them either. Writing a good description for your post gives you just as much if not more visibility than adding a hashtag or two. Since Pinterest search is based on keywords, it will find your post about “wedding dresses” whether someone searches for it using, “#weddingdresses” or, “Wedding Dresses”. It also looks through User Names, descriptions and board names for the keyword so you get more types of results from one search. So feel free to use hashtags on Pinterest if you’d like, but remember they are only clickable if they are located in the post description and they aren’t essential for finding good stuff!
If there’s one thing we can learn from all this information it’s that using 1-2 Hashtags will generally help your posts do better on any platform. When you want more visibility, interaction and ultimately customers, using hashtags on social media is one of your best bets. Just make sure you don’t #end #up #doing #THIS.