Want to get your content to the top of your audience’s social media feeds? Don’t underestimate the unassuming hashtag — the SEO keywords of social media.
In a bid to break out of the content clutter and get fresh eyes on their content, many brands are turning to social media to promote themselves. After all, social media runs the world — or at least half the world.
Whether it’s promoting your content via social media posts, or publishing your content directly on the social platforms themselves, standing out from the thousands of other posts is no easy feat.
And that’s why an effective hashtag strategy is something worth investigating. With the right hashtags on the right platforms, you’ll have a better chance of reaching a wider audience with your content.
It has been more than a decade since the hashtag took flight on Twitter in 2007. The question then arises: are hashtags still relevant?
The statistics seem to suggest that yes, their relevance has not faded. In 2020, an average of 125 million hashtags were tweeted daily, and 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram were branded hashtags — used by companies to raise brand awareness and encourage easily-trackable UGC.
So yes, both brands and individuals are still using hashtags. Brands have realised that they’re not just fun, witty ways to connect with the younger generation, but they can also be excellent tools that can boost the reach of content.
Finding the right hashtags for your social media posts can be a tedious affair. It can difficult to figure out how many hashtags you should use, or what hashtags will work the best for your post.
But here are some benefits of hashtags that can make that effort worth it.
Think of hashtags as the SEO (search engine optimisation) keywords of social media — they can help your target audience find your content more easily. The right hashtag can grow your organic reach and put your content into your target audience’s bubble.
For example, an interior design firm in Singapore would use a tag like #interiordesignsg on their Instagram posts. This would make their content visible to anyone browsing that hashtag, most of whom are likely to be interested in interior design services.
Content with hashtags also tends to enjoy greater engagement in the forms of retweets, likes and shares. Tweets with hashtags get twice the engagement than those without, and having at least 1 hashtag on Instagram posts can increase engagement by up to 12.6%.
Building a brand community can bring about a series of perks, including raising brand awareness and fostering customer loyalty. Furthermore, 68% of branded communities say that it has helped create new leads.
So how do you build a community? Consider creating and using brand community hashtags. These are custom hashtags unique to your brand and can be as simple as your brand name or a unique tagline.
These hashtags may sound simple, but they give your customers a place to share their content. Since 79% of people say that user-generated content impacts their purchasing decisions, a community hashtag helps make that possible.
Take Lululemon’s hashtag #thesweatlife. The hashtag has over 1 million posts from users sharing their purchases and reviews, as well as influencers promoting their Lululemon products.
More and more brands are launching social media marketing campaigns that are driven by user-generated content (UGC).
These campaigns often come with a catchy hashtag, and participants are incentivised by free products, a prize voucher, or perhaps just a feature on the brand’s social media page.
By putting out incentives for participation, you’re likely to increase user participation, which then inadvertently increases the chances of the hashtag trending or going viral. This, in turn, will boost the organic reach of your campaign and brand awareness.
Chipotle’s TikTok Guac Challenge demonstrates the power of a viral campaign hashtag. Fans were challenged to post their creative videos under the hashtag #GuacDance for free guacamole. The hashtag went viral, and the six-day campaign saw more than 250 thousand submissions.
Aside from facilitating user-generated content, campaign hashtags can help you better organise your own brand posts. It can be all too easy for your followers to lose track of an ongoing campaign when your posts get lost among the sea of other content.
With a campaign hashtag, you can isolate all tagged pieces in one place for easier access and organisation. This is especially useful for when you have multiple ongoing content marketing campaigns.
In May last year, Coca Cola launched “For the Human Race”, a video series celebrating the resilience of the human race in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also celebrated the unsung heroes of various countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Jamaica.
Since multiple videos were published on different channels, the hashtag #ForTheHumanRace on Youtube kept all the videos organised on a single page, making it much easier for viewers to access all of them at once. Furthermore, it isolated the videos from Coca Cola’s other regular content on Youtube.
If this is your first foray into the world of hashtags, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin. Here are some tips that can help you get started.
More isn’t necessarily merrier — different platforms call for different hashtag strategies. You need to make adaptations to your choice and number of hashtags when you post the same content across multiple social channels.
Although the hashtag first originated from Twitter, the fewer the hashtags on Twitter, the better the post tends to do. In fact, tweets with 1-2 hashtags gain 21% more engagement than tweets with more than 3 hashtags.
Similarly, statistics show that Facebook posts with 1-2 hashtags generate the highest average interactions.
Instagram, on the other hand, is more hashtag-friendly. Posts can have up to 30 hashtags, but posts with 11 hashtags generate the most interactions, especially for users with less than a thousand or so followers.
So do your research, and make sure that your strategy meshes well with the platform of your choice.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on recent online trends and events. Sometimes, you may find a trending hashtag or a relevant event that you can jump onto.
When the hashtag #TenYearChallenge trended in 2019, brands like LEGO, Ikea and XBox posted their own creative takes on the challenge.
Jumping onto trending hashtags can amplify your voice and raise brand awareness among audiences you would normally not engage with.
There are also tools that will give you insights into your hashtag analytics.
Tools like Hashtagify can help you track the popularity and reach of your hashtags. You want to make sure that the hashtags you’re using are actually bringing in views and interactions from your target audience.
Additionally, tracking your branded and campaign hashtags will also give you an idea of how well-received your brand or campaign is.
Finally, tools such as RiteTag can help you improve your hashtag strategies by giving you suggestions based on your target audience.
In this data-saturated world, you’ll need to use anything and everything at your disposal to reach your audience and rise over the competition.
No matter how trivial or unassuming hashtags may seem, clever hashtag usage will raise the chances of your content reaching your audience to give you an edge over your competitors.
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