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Most of us are familiar with seeing hashtags on social media but you may have questions about how to best use them on each platform.

I’ve put together a handy two-part guide to help you get to grips with hashtag best practice. In Part One, I’ll be looking at hashtags on the main social media platforms. Check out Part Two for advice about hashtag dos and don’ts.

What are hashtags?

Hashtags – as indicated by the # symbol followed by a keyword or phrase, e.g. #training or #MarketingTips – were first introduced by Twitter back in 2007 as a way to help categorise and group together related content.

Since then, all of the social media platforms have adopted hashtags to some extent.

Users can search for hashtags to find posts and content that relate to a subject or conversation that interests them.

Hashtags on Twitter

Hashtags are most often used on Twitter within the context of Twitter chats or relating to specific topics.

A Twitter chat is a public conversation around one unique hashtag. Everyone participating in the chat uses the same hashtag so that others can track the conversation and respond. Twitter chats are often hosted by one person who asks questions or interviews a guest. In most cases, the Twitter chat is scheduled in advance so that everyone knows when to take part.

If you have comments or questions that are relevant to a Twitter chat, be sure to include the appropriate hashtags in your tweets so that they’ll be seen by other people in the same chat.

How many hashtags should you use per Tweet?

Although the number of hashtags you use per tweet will depend on your audience and the content you’re tweeting about, most experts recommend sticking to just one or two.

Too many hashtags will lower engagement, whereas a well-chosen one or two will help people to find your content.

Finding the best hashtags to use on Twitter

Before you choose which hashtags to use on Twitter, it’s worth doing some research.

The Home screen (on desktops) or the magnifying glass icon (on mobiles) will give you a list of the latest trending hashtags and topics.

You can also search for hashtags that you’re thinking of using and see what sort of content the search brings up.

Tip: Always doublecheck a hashtag before you use it. It’s important to know that it isn’t being used by another campaign, especially one that might conflict with your values or one that you might undermine by using.

Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags are seen in abundance over on Instagram and are very much essential to the platform experience. People can even follow hashtags now, which means that they might come across your training business based on the hashtags you use rather than by following your profile. This offers huge potential to grow your audience.

People tend to use hashtags on Instagram to convey locations, descriptions and topics.

Instagram has introduced a new feature where users can choose a ‘Don’t show for this hashtag’ option to hide content associated with specific hashtags.

This is one reason to ensure that hashtags are relevant to your audience. You don’t want your posts to be hidden or viewed as spam.

How many hashtags should you use per post?

It is possible to add up to 30 hashtags to an Instagram post and 10 hashtags to an Instagram story. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. A recent analysis by Track Maven found that posts with nine hashtags get the best engagement.

Finding the best hashtags to use on Instagram

Hit the magnifying glass symbol to browse trending hashtags on Instagram. You may be able to use one or more of these if they’re relevant to your content.

 

Hashtags on Facebook

Although hashtags are used on Facebook, there is some debate about whether they actually increase engagement in any way.

How many hashtags should you use per post?

If you are going to use hashtags in the posts on your business page, the advice is to choose just one or two per post.

Finding the best hashtags to use on Facebook

As with the other platforms, it’s advisable to check what content shows up for the hashtags you want to use to make sure there isn’t any sort of conflict of message. You can do this by entering #[your hashtag] into the search bar to see what comes up.

 

Hashtags on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is still developing its use of hashtags. At the moment, they can be added to updates through articles, posts, photos or videos.

One of the biggest uses of hashtags on LinkedIn is in the brief description of an article – a bit like a meta description for a blog post – that you have to complete before you hit ‘Publish’. Here, it’s best to use hashtags that describe the content.

How many hashtags should you use per post?

There are no limits to the number of hashtags you use but you should choose them wisely. Personally, I aim for two to three hashtags per article, using those that accurately reflect the keywords of the content.

Finding the best hashtags to use on LinkedIn

As with other platforms, the best option is to type in the hashtags you want to use and see what content comes up, as well as what other hashtags people are using in related content.

 

I hope you’ve found this overview useful. Don’t miss Part Two next week where I’ll be going through the dos and don’ts of using hashtags and some great free tools for finding trending tags.

Do you use hashtags on social media? How confident do you feel about them? Do you track how your hashtags perform? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the Comments below.

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