Who are they? Coming from Twitter, and initially annoying, hashtags have become nearly an integral part of all content in social media.
A hashtag is any word in Latin or Cyrillic, and even a combination of words and numbers, without spaces, preceded by the # (hash) symbol.
The hashtags assimilated into Twitter so successfully that they quickly expanded outside it. They are quite relevant to any social network. Many wonder whether we overestimate hashtags, and how to use them correctly in posts.
Let’s check the facts
Little things do matter: on any social network, #makeup and #make_up are two fully distinct hashtags.
The hashtags can be classified into three categories, according to their usage frequency.
- Low-frequency: this category incorporates hashtags of niche topics (#earcushionkoss) or modified common hashtags (#mylovelykitty instead of #cat).
- High-frequency: top tags from around the world (#love, #instagood, #me).
- Mid-frequency: widespread local tags.
Let’s go on into the details of social media with an active hashtag application.
A hashtag was designed as a tool for sorting through the entire flow of publications, and it first gained popularity on Twitter. In early 2009, the site started hyperlinking hashtags worldwide.
On Twitter, all the trends of a given period with hashtags are gathered in a separate column, “Hot topics.” Twitter is a very smart service, collecting information about you and your interests (what you have already searched for on the platform) without additional questions, analyzing your following and compiling the most relevant #topics. However, they can be customized.
A mass following hashtag took root on Twitter as well. Over a day, some popular tag like #massfollow #like4like will surely appear in the trends. The point is that you find a user by a hashtag, follow him, and he follows you.
Why is mass following not a relevant solution for companies and brands?
- 99% of these invited followers will never respond to your tweets
- Most people follow you, wait for mutual courtesy, and then unfollow the account
The hashtags on Instagram can be the only text for pictures. Apart from a trivial descriptive function, what are other hash characters’ applications?
- Hashtags for increasing engagement:
On Instagram, the hashtags allow users and business profiles to find similar publications and join the mainstream. For example, you are a make-up artist named Emily, sharing your work on Instagram. Just add #MUA and the search will release your photo with others. Now, those interested in make-up will be able to evaluate your efforts by leaving likes, as well as follow updates and even order services, if you are so lucky.
To get a greater audience, you should add other hashtags like #smokeyes #makeupoftheday and others, like #nails and #eyelashes. However, it is worth remembering that the maximum allowed number of hashtags in one post on Instagram is 30.
There are also inconveniences: on the one hand, adding the maximum number of hashtags enhances the probability that no make-up fan will miss your wow post, but on the other hand, the abundance of hashtags will make the publication unattractive, evoking feeling spam.
- Hashtags for personalization
For your make-up artist Emily, it makes sense to create a unique hashtag. To do this, you can add a name or surname to the existing one, like #EmilyMUA. The essential step is to check in advance whether this hashtag is used by another Emily.
- Hashtags for browsing
To select a series of photos that are associated with a single event or topic, just try creating browsing hashtags inside your account. For example, if you want to present only samples of lip make-up to clients, you may use #EmilyMUA_lips.
- Hashtags for promotion
The assumption is that the best hashtag promotion works on the very same Instagram. Many people are so active in talking about it, that one can even believe in a list of magic hashtags that attract dozens of active followers to a profile, instantly turning them into clients. Nevertheless, not everything is so simple.
Indeed, you can increase your number of followers on Instagram if you hit the top 9 by using mid-frequency hashtags. During the first few minutes, the post should gain as much engagement as possible, against others, with exactly the same hashtag.
The more high-frequency the hashtag, the less chance to remain on top. It means that fewer people will see the post and follow your profile in the future.
Here is the other side of the coin:
- Most often, you get likes and follows from bots, a large number of them if you are lucky. What is the point? The efficiency of these likes and following is poor.
- Your content should be catchy so that a real person looking through something by a specific hashtag would want to leave his like, and even follow your updates.
Hashtags on Facebook are definitely not a key feature. What is the catch?
- On Facebook, the hashtags mainly serve as a marker, prompting core ideas of the content to the audience. They virtually do not work here to increase engagement and attract new followers.
- Searching by hashtags has a complex algorithm. The posts do not appear in chronological order. First, a user will get a portion of his friends’ hashtagged posts, followed by profiles that are the most important according to Facebook.
If running a contest with a mandatory hashtag, please note: searching on Facebook may release fewer than all posts, while the desktop and mobile versions of it generate different releases.
- Monitoring may be incomplete. Many companies (including your make-up artist Emily) use a hashtag search to not miss mentions in user posts. So, be aware of the specifics of releases.
Despite the once-huge fuss surrounding hashtags, they have proven to be somewhat overestimated.
What do we get by using hashtags, and how can they be helpful?
- They allow for highlighting the #core idea in a large post and for adding an emphasis.
- They are browsing-friendly on Vkontakte and Instagram.
- Hashtags mark the trendiest news on many social media outlets.
- By making the right choice of hashtags (for niche topics), you can get active followers truly interested in your posts.
A brief hashtag guide for social media:
- Do not rush into extremes. It is not worth abusing all 30 hashtags. At the same time, their full absence would not heighten interest in the post.
- Put spaces between hashtags. An unreadable sequence like #beauty#fashion#style#me will not intrigue your following, and you will likely not get a single like!
- Hide hashtags. If they are used in vast numbers and only to collect as many likes as possible, try posting them as a separate comment straight after sharing your photo.
- Do not use symbols. Dashes, hyphens and other punctuation marks, special characters like +, $, &, %, as well as spaces between components of one hashtag, just make it non-working.
- Mix hashtags. To improve the post’s efficiency, you should use both high-frequency and unique hashtags for browsing and personalization.
- Do not come under the ban. There is a list of banned hashtags on Instagram. There are things like #bigdickboy and #russianmilf under the ban, but it also includes quite innocent ones like #hardsummer and even #valentinesday. Attention!
- Revise hashtags, making sure there are no mistakes. Illiterate content not only reduces your professional rating, but also adversely affects the hashtag engagement rate.
- Read aloud and declaim your hashtag before posting, if you are not about to make a meme that would win the Internet.