I have to say, I was always somewhat of a skeptic when it came to using hashtags in social media. Not because I didn’t understand what they were used for, but more because I couldn’t see myself following a hashtag (or category) of interest when I already follow 333 users on Twitter and 60 users on Instagram. More importantly (and one of the real reasons why this post came about) it seemed to me that many people (particularly on Instagram) didn’t fully understand the point of hashtags. For example, my point is made when you see hashtags like #OMGletswriteanovelinahashtag . Seen those before?

Source: http://geek.digesttouch.com/

What is a Hashtag?

If you’re not familiar with what a hashtag is, well:

“The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.” Source: Twitter.

hashtag-twitter-instagram | Source: RebelMouse.com

Why use Hashtags?

  1. Hashtags are keywords that will help you find your target audience (great for businesses new to Twitter – see my earlier post)
  2. Hashtags give you the ability to send droves of new people to your content (see the infographic below for the stats)
  3. Hashtags give you the opportunity to participate in chats based on shared interests

Do Hashtags work to drive engagement?

The short answer is, YES!

Even based on comparing the tweets where I have used hashtags over those I haven’t, I could confidently say that by including hashtags in posts the potential traffic to your site increases. The only problem is, I needed more concrete evidence.

Through my research I managed to find some evidence, in the form of two interesting infographics that help explain the importance and effect of using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. You should find them useful for the next time someone questions “Why Hashtags?”.

“Tweets that include hashtags receive 2X more engagement than those without.”

Source: http://lorirtaylor.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-twitter-hashtags-infographic/

Hashtags Work on Instagram

Dan Zarella, The Social Media Scientist worked up this simple yet interesting infographic proving that not only do Instagrams with hashtags have a much higher like-to-follower ratio, but also outlined some of the most liked hashtags to use.

Keep these in mind the next time you post to Instagram!

Source: http://danzarrella.com/new-data-shows-the-importance-of-hashtags-on-instagram.html#

Key things to remember when using Hashtags:

  1. Always remember to include a hashtag when posting to Twitter or Instagram
  2. Use no more than 3 hashtags in Twitter posts for maximum engagement
  3. Use hashtags to help you find your target audience
  4. Monitor sites like hashtag.org, twubs.com and tagdef.com for trending hashtags and incorporate them into relevant posts of your own to drive engagement and traffic
  5. Utilise some of the most popular hashtags in Instagram to generate more engagement and likes on your content

And lastly…

It’s really important to remember that hashtags are only part of your message and therefore engagement levels will depend on the relevancy of the message, general interest, who you’re directing the message to, and the timing of when you publish the post. With so many variables in play, you can imagine how hard an accurate test would be, however the results shared above provide some good insight into the general effect of hashtags in posts.

Ok, your turn…

Do you use hashtags whenever you post to Twitter or Instagram?

Do you think it makes a difference to the engagement on your posts or have you been using them because everyone else has? (I bet this would a common finding amongst many Instagram users :P)

What’s your experience with using hashtags? Do you use them to target your audience?

What else do you think is missing from the key points outlined above?


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