In Part One of my guide – How to use #hashtags to grow your presence on social media – we took a quick tour of how hashtags are used on different platforms.
Now, in Part Two, I want to give you a breakdown of some of the most important hashtag dos and don’ts as well as some links to free tools that may help you identify potential hashtags for your content.
Hashtag best practice: DO this
- The best option when crafting a hashtag is to choose something that’s simple, memorable, unique and relevant. Yes, there are some hilarious, long hashtags out there (see #1LetterWrongMovie or #GeekPickUpLines) but there are also some horrible #hashtagsthatarenothingmorethanalongstringofwords. Generally speaking, simpler hashtags get higher search volumes.
- Be specific to your audience. A company that sells products for babies would have more success using hashtags like #newmums, #newdads, #newparents or #newborns than just #parents or #kids, which could attract people with children of all ages. Equally, if you train within a specific niche or industry or with a certain type of client, your hashtags should reflect this.
- Use hashtags that fit your brand. This doesn’t mean they have to mention the name of your company but they should reflect what your brand is about. A great example is Destination British Columbia, the official tourism organisation for British Columbia, Canada, who urge people to use #explorebc to share their travel experiences in the area on Instagram. Click on #explorebc and you’ll see over four and a half million images showcasing the stunning sights of British Columbia. This is all free marketing for the travel board.
- Capitalise the first letter of each word in your hashtags to make them easier to read. One example I read pointed out that a hashtag like #nowthatchersdead could be read as #NowThatchersDead or #NowThatChersDead, which are two very different meanings. And let’s not forget the infamous launch of Susan Boyle’s new album in 2012 – #susanalbumparty – which led to many red faces!
- Create campaign-specific hashtags. Successful campaigns such as #LikeAGirl (Always), #PutACanOnIt (Redbull), #IceBucketChallenge (ALS Association) or #CaughtOnDropCam (Nest) don’t mention the brands at all but they do speak volumes about the core values, purpose and personality of each brand.
- Monitor whether the hashtags you’re using are boosting engagement. As with any other aspect of growing your presence on social media, it’s essential to monitor how the hashtags you use are performing. Do you get more shares, comments or likes/loves if you use hashtags? Do the number of hashtags you use affect engagement? Are there hashtags that resonate with your audience? On which platforms do hashtags give you the best results?
- Think about experimenting with emoji hashtags, especially on Instagram. Emoji marketing is coming so Instagram is a great place to try out emoji hashtags to see if they affect your engagement, especially if you want to reach a younger audience.
Hashtag mistakes to avoid: DON’T do this
- Don’t add spaces or special characters to your hashtags. Social media platforms only link to letters that are properly connected to the hashtag. For example, a hashtag for #TheTrainersTrainingCompany would work but not for #The Trainers Training Company, which would actually just tag the word ‘The’.
- Don’t put letters in front of a hashtag, e.g. 1#idea, as none of the platforms will recognise the hashtag.
- #Do #Not #Use #Too #Many #Hashtags #To #Make #Your #Point – If you feature too many hashtags in a post, it can make it hard to read and dilute the message. It’s better to use a few well-chosen hashtags than to hashtag absolutely everything.
- Don’t use irrelevant hashtags just because they’re trending. Although I talked about finding trending hashtags in part one of this guide, you should only ever use them if they are relevant to your own content. If you start adding random hashtags like #unicorns or #catswiththeirtonguesout to unrelated content, your audience will see straight through it and question your authenticity.
Finding the best hashtags
If you’re still unsure about which hashtags to use, there are some online tools that can help you choose the best options for your training business. Most have paid-for packages with more usability but the free versions often give enough of a starting point.
When looking for recommendations, I came across the following tools:
- RiteTag – Find related tags that you should use now and that may grow an audience over time, as well as Instagram-only tags to use
- ExportTweet – Find out more about who’s using specific hashtags on Twitter and the typical impressions
- Hastagify – Discover which influencers are using specific hashtags, geographical information, the latest social media posts including them, and more
- Tweet Archivist – Get real-time data about specific hashtags, related terms, top URLs using them, influencers, top Tweets, and more
- Trends Map – If you want to connect with your local community and potential clients based on location then Trends Map gives you a breakdown of the hashtags that are trending in your region
- Socialert – The free example will report on up to 500 posts featuring your chosen hashtag over the past seven days. A seven-day free trial is also available. Find the top mentions, related hashtags, influencers and URLs for a hashtag
I hope you’ve found this two-part guide to using hashtags on social media to grow your presence helpful. If you missed it, you can find Part One here. I’d love to hear your thoughts about hashtags below. Do you love them or hate them? Let me know!