How to maximize your reach with social media hashtags

Posted by Murray Sye

on Thu, May 21, 2015 @ 09:37 AM


Are you using hashtags in your social media marketing?

You see them everywhere these days. From Twitter to Facebook to Instagram, hashtags are an essential part of social media marketing.

So why should you care about hashtags?

When used properly, hashtags can be a powerful marketing tool in helping drive brand recognition, boost conversions, and positively impact customer loyalty. People and businesses find content, clients, information, customers, partners, employees, and contributors through incorporating hashtags into their posts and searching hashtags of interest.

In order to help you get the most out of hashtags, I've enlisted the help of Instagram (and hashtag hero) @suebzimmerman for help in squeezing the most out of hashtags for your business.

But first, what is a hashtag?

A hashtag is simply a keyword phrase, spelled out without spaces, with a pound sign (#) in front of it. For example, #SalesLeads and #InboundMarketing are both hashtags. Hashtags ties the conversations fo different users into the one stream, which you can find by searching in Twitter Search or by using a third-party monitoring tool such as Hootsuite.

So, if Twitter users for example, who are not otherwise connected, talk about the same topic using a specific hashtag, their tweets will appear in the same stream. In that way, Twitter hashtags solve a coordination issue and facilitate a conversation. Popular hastagged words often become trending topics – topics so many people are talking about that they are a "trend."


Use hashtags to promote an event like Guy's viral chat.

5 Ways to identify the optimal hashtag for your business

Let's assume your business is about healthy eating as a way of life. Your post is about implementing a paleo diet and launching a new avocado oil you are selling that supports this.

  • Categories: Hashtag categories relevant to your post or business i.e.: #healthyliving #nutrition #paleodiet
  • Location: Geotag or add locations relevant to your post or business i.e.: where you are opositng from or the town/city in which your business is based
  • Emotions: Hashtag how what you do makes you feel, how you are feeling that day or how the post topic makes you feel. i.e.: #energetic #pure #natural
  • Events: Hashtag the event you are attending/posting from or create a hashtag for an event you have created and are promoting i.e.: #UnionSQFarmersMarket #AvacadoBonanza
  • Products: Hashtag your product's name, type of product it is and what it is used for i.e.: #healthfuloils #avocado #paleodiet

Sue recommends these 3 Hashtagging Do's

Create your own
Hashtags are a great way to generate buzz around what you are doing and your specific brand. You can even identify yours by entering them on Instagram's Tagboard (like the sample below). Having a custom hashtag allows you to dominate a feed and keep yourself top of mind.


Be relevant. Be aware of the competition. Be thoughtful.
If I am new to the niche, I may not have any idea what the hashtags might look like. However, I might know who the influencers are within that niche. Those may help you know what is trending and also what to stay away from. Once you've researched some of your ideas, choose those that are memorable and important in order to create staying power with your followers. Choose a few that can be consistently used and adapted as well. this will make it easier for your customers to follow your conversation.


Refresh to get more mileage
A way to get more use out of older posts that are still relevant is to repost using a combination of fresh hashtags and the ones you have used already.


3 Don'ts of hashtagging

No "crashtagging"
Do not just use a hashtag because it has a huge amount of traffic unless it is relevant to your content. For example Nike is one of the most used hashtags but you would be "spammy" if you used that tag on your post about paleo diets.

Do not overuse Don't weigh your posts down with a crazy amount of hashtags. Like when #people #hashtag #every #word #of #their #tweet. Your thoroughness will be better served with a more precise selection. Instagram allows up to 30, but you should try and keep them to 8-10. Too many reads like desperate marketing, and is a sure way to lose followers.

Don't create a long, complex hashtag.
Overly complicated hashtags like #paleodietlifestyleideas are not search-friendly or commonly used, so your post will get buried quickly rather than garnering the attention it deserves.

Hashtags are a powerful addition to your social media marketing and should be part of the planning process. Key takeaway: make sure you're using the right hashtags at the right time to ensure you are reaching your audience in a positive way. Follow Sue's Do's and Don'ts and you'll start to see improvement. 

Twitter Edition - Fish Where The Fish Are

Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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