What is a Hashtag and How Should You Use It?

DSM Digital school of marketing - hashtag

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the hash mark (#). This was once your phone’s pound sign. It is used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest. It enables people to search for it. The hashtag symbol has become very popular so much so that the Oxford and Scrabble dictionaries recognised its meaning in 2010 and 2015.

What is The Purpose of Hashtags?

Today, these symbols are the most popular go-to tool when looking for what is new or trending when it comes to a specific topic.

Hashtags serve as a tagging system that can help categorise content. For example, if you are interested in health and fitness, you can quickly search for #fitspo on Instagram and find some of the latest and most popular content around the web.

Main Reasons We Use Hashtags

There are mainly two benefits to using hashtags in your digital marketing strategy:

  1. Being able to view content from anyone who has used a specific hashtag, even those outside of your own network.
  2. Being able to expand your reach by using specific hashtags. This allows anyone with a similar interest to discover your brand, product or service.

How to Use Hashtags to Grow Your Presence Online

Knowing how to use hashtags is essential for you to get trending on social media. You need a ‘how-to use hashtag’ guidelines to succeed with your social media marketing and digital marketing.

However, as popular as the hashtag may be, quite a significant number of people don’t understand how to use them. This is especially for marketing purposes.

The use of a hashtag on a social post is as simple as placing the # sign before a single word or phrase, minus the spaces or punctuation. You can incorporate numbers in your hashtags as well. It may be easy to type out a hashtag. However, there are some underestimated hints you should learn to get the most out of them.

When hashtags are misused, people looking for new content have to dig through irrelevant, miscategorised content to get to what they’re searching for. You don’t want this bad user experience associated with your brand!

Be Specific

Connecting and involving other social media users, who have the same interests as you, has become a breeze. You can begin by looking for your specific hashtags you think your targeted audience might be interested in.

Opt to locate one that fits the profile of your brand and use it to draw inspiration to make your own. It is important to remember that your hashtag must be specific to what kind of attention you want to attract. For example:

  • Suppose you want to market your low-calorie cakes. Instead of using #yummycakes instead use #noweightyummycakes. This hashtag is specific to your target customer who wants to indulge in cakes without breaking the bathroom scale.

Each Social Media Platform is Different

It is essential for your hashtags to cater to the social network you are using. Take note that social networks use hashtags differently. While most social networks use hashtags to focus more on describing content, Twitter tends to focus more on using it on a topic of conversation.

Instagram is probably the fastest-growing social network in South Africa today. Hashtags on the platform help users discover not only new and fresh content but also some of the most popular content. In fact, you can now choose to follow a specific hashtag on Instagram which gives brands more reason to start using them.

Creating Your Own Branded Hashtags

Remember that how you use hashtags determines the success of your social media marketing and digital marketing campaigns.

Don’t be Too General

Hashtags do not necessarily have to mention your brand name or product. Preferably they should represent your brand and also what you stand for. If you ultimately decide to create and use a branded hashtag, which is a hashtag explicitly used for your brand, be careful not to sound too general.

As has been mentioned, getting as specific as possible is much better even though it may seem you will have less reach. As an example, consider #fingerlickingood for KFC’s social media marketing.  This will resonate with your audience since branded hashtags need to be relevant, unforgettable and irreplaceable.

DSM Digital school of marketing - hashtag

Don’t Be Too Clever

Don’t use a hashtag which is too long or too clever. Not everyone has the patience to type in many characters such as #Letsgetslimcampaign. Rather keep it short and sweet. After all: hashtags are meant to make searches easier.

Avoiding hashtags which are too long eliminates the risk of people reading the hashtag as something different than what was intended. However, if you absolutely need to make the hashtag long then use capital letters for each first letter of a word to help differentiate the individual words in the hashtag.

How Many Hashtags Should You Use Per Post?

Many Instagram users have figured that if you use more hashtags than words you stand a chance to trend more. However, don’t use more than five hashtags on a single post because this may get you trending but only for the wrong reasons.  Only irrelevant followers such as spammers or people looking to be followed back may flock your hashtags.

One thing you can at least take from this article on what a hashtag is and how to use it is to remember to make your hashtags specific to the audience you’re trying to engage. When the audience is actively targeted they will, in turn, be more involved and your content will be well received.

Get in touch with the Digital School of Marketing

Want to learn more about social media marketing? The Social Media Marketing Course, which is offered by the Digital School of Marketing, will teach you this and so much more! Follow this link for more information.

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