Social Media Marketing with Hashtags

Picture of Aliza Sherman Aliza Sherman is a news media entrepreneur, author, women's issues activist, and international speaker. Sherman has received recognition for her role as an entrepreneur focused on women's issues, particularly women's role in the news media industry and their participation on the Internet.

Social Media Marketing with Hashtags

The way you communicate in social media can vary depending on the social network you’re using. While you should maintain a consistent brand voice regardless of where you post, you also need to be aware of the communication style and parameters of each social network.

Social networks such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr incorporate hashtags as part of messaging. Hashtags are keywords with the pound sign or hash mark in front of them such as #wine and #flowers. Hashtags serve several purposes:

  1. Search Tool: Hashtags automatically turn into active links so can be clicked to search for similar content.
  2. Search Results: Hashtags group similar content together when using the search feature on a social network.
  3. Additional Content: Hashtags can embellish a post, adding commentary, context or categories.

Let’s break this down.

Hashtags as Search Tools

On most social networks, even the ones that may not promote hashtag use, you can search for content using a specific hashtag. While you may not notice a big difference in search results if you searched for “#wine” versus “wine,” you could find content you wouldn’t have found otherwise by searching for more specific hashtags.

An example of a more specific hashtag that could be used and would render different search results is “#napawine” versus “wine.” If a post does not contain “Napa” in the message text itself but contains the tag #napawine, that hashtag affects how the post appears in search results. Trying a variety of relevant hashtags can render different search results.

Hashtags to Influence Search Results

Given that anyone can search and find content using hashtags in social networks, you can increase the visibility of your posts by using hashtags to group your content with similar content. Similar to search engine marketing, choose hashtags that describe your core message. Use #food, and your post could appear in search results with other posts about food.

Generic and popular hashtags generate thousands or millions of search results. Choosing the right hashtag or hashtags is like choosing the right keywords for your website meta tags. Take into account what words people might use to search for content similar to yours.

If you’re a small, local business, use identifying tags like your company name, the city you’re in, the state you’re in, and any keywords that describe your business such as #florist or #dentist.

Additional Context

Hashtags can both describe and define your content, but they can also be used within the text of your message. Here’s an example of a hashtag used within a message with additional ones at the end:

“A cup of #tea is a great way to relax. Don’t you agree? #teatime #meditate #ILoveTea #tealover.”

Note how the hashtag within the message is the main keyword – “tea” - and the hashtags following the message are related in some way. #Meditate may seem less relevant but it enhances the message about tea for relaxation. The other hashtags such as “teatime,” “ILoveTea” and “tealover” are popular on social networks and can group your post in search results with other posts using the same hashtags.

Choose some hashtags based on popularity. Some of the top hashtags that may apply to some of your posts are #love, #food, and #travel. There are also commonly used hashtags for every day of the week such as #MotivationMonday or #MinimalistMonday, #FridayFeeling and #WeekendVibes.

The Art of Hashtagging

Using hashtags can be part search science and part creative writing. Each social network accommodates a different number of hashtags. Best practices dictate using one or two hashtags on Twitter, a handful on Pinterest, and even more on Instagram and Tumblr. While you can use and search with hashtags on Facebook, hashtag use is frowned upon for Facebook Pages and could detrimentally affect your post visibility.

Hashtags on Instagram are almost a language unto themselves. It is not uncommon to see a dozen hashtags after a message. For example, here is a typical format for an Instagram post with hashtags:

Enjoying the #beach. #wishyouwerehere #beach #sun #sand #lovinglife #travel #oceanbreeze #doyoulovepinacoladas #lovingit #happydays #vacation

While you can overdo hashtagging, using 10 to 15 hashtags on Instagram is pretty common and can lift the visibility of your posts. Some people put more hashtags in the comments section of Instagram posts for an additional boost although others feel it is unnecessary.

While you don’t have to use hashtags, they are an important part of social media marketing. Understanding how hashtags function and can be useful in searches can expose your posts to new audiences.