There seems to be quite a bit of misconception about if hashtags on social media are still relevant—after all, they’ve been around for over ten years! The rules of social media are always changing, so why would hashtags be the exception? Well, the short answer is, they’re not. Although hashtags are still relevant and useful for businesses today, they aren’t being used the same way they were in past years. The usefulness of hashtags varies on different platforms, and the reach will depend on the tags being used.
This is major platform where the use of hashtags has changed over the past few years. When hashtags first became popular, they were huge on Facebook. There really wasn’t a limit to the number of hashtags or how many words were in a single hashtag. They were heavily used by personal accounts, so when individuals stopped using them, businesses weren’t sure if they should do the same.
In 2020, Facebook began recommending hashtags to use in your posts and also notified users that using hashtags could boost their organic reach. Like other platforms, Facebook allows you to click on a hashtag and see how many other people are using it. There’s more structure to hashtags now, with 2-3 hashtags being the ideal number on each post. Be careful about which hashtags you choose to include, however, because Facebook has also recently allowed content to be searchable just by the text in a post. So, if you say “marketing plan” for example, there really isn’t a need to include #marketingplan. Instead, perhaps use #socialmediamarketing. It’s still relevant to your post, but “social media” may not have been stated in the copy, so the hashtag acts as an additional keyword.
Instagram is the social channel where hashtags are being used most often. This is the one platform where it’s considered acceptable to use more than 2-3 hashtags, so you don’t have to be quite as selective in your hashtag choices. Instagram does have a 30-hashtag limit, but it’s not recommended to use that many. Try to keep your hashtags to no more than 10, and if you use more than 2-3, don’t include the hashtags on the same line as the copy to avoid the text from looking too clustered. Users have also recently placed their hashtags in the first comment of the post to avoid the caption looking too cluttered.
Like Facebook, the actual hashtags used have to matter. So, while you can certainly use more than Facebook, that doesn’t mean you can use irrelevant hashtags or ones that are too generic. It’s a best practice to choose popular hashtags along with ones specific to your business or content, as this can make your content more discoverable. If you have a recurring theme in your social media content that is specific to your business, such as #MarketingTipMonday, users will be able to search that hashtag and find all of your posts that use that hashtag. Do try to keep the hashtag more specific so that your posts aren’t getting drowned out by other business’ content.
This is another platform where hashtags first became extremely popular, and now Twitter users are unsure if including them in their posts is useful or not. Brands tend to be able to be more casual on this platform, and the same goes for the hashtags used. There’s also a specific section on Twitter where you can find what hashtags are currently trending and how many tweets are associated with that tag. Twitter is also a unique place for event-type hashtags—for example, McDonald’s recently released the “Mariah Menu” promotion, and they started using #MariahMenu in their tweets, which encourages followers and customers to use the hashtag when they get their Mariah Menu items.
Popular brands limit their hashtag usage, however, only including them when they’re necessary and about something specific. So, for your small business, using more specific hashtags tends to be more beneficial than general ones. The #MarketingTipMonday example is a great hashtag to use on Twitter because it’s specific to your content, used organically, and is easily searchable.
One key takeaway from looking at hashtags on different platforms is: use hashtags with purpose. Don’t use a random trending hashtags like #DogsofInstagram if your post has nothing to do with dogs. When users are searching that hashtag, they don’t want to see a photo of your product—that tends to make viewers feel like they’re being tricked by your company.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the recent rules of the social media world, don’t hesitate to give us a call to discuss a marketing plan. That’s My Idea Marketing is your marketing department for hire!