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Over the last 10 years, social media has transformed from a way to keep in touch with friends into one of the most important avenues of mass communication. Various platforms have developed into self-contained digital worlds that allow businesses and organizations to inject their voices into national and international conversations. Want to make use of these powerful tools? You must understand the many ways to wield the almighty hashtag.
For the uninitiated who have managed to stave off social media addiction for this long, a hashtag is a specified word or phrase attached to content that you publish online. It places your post in a designated location where others are commenting on a particular topic. Properly using hashtags in your posts provides maximum impact.
Look for popular and trending tags.
Most large-scale events or news topics will have corresponding hashtags on any social media platform that people are using. These are found fairly easily after a simple search for the topic, and there are some websites that break down the most common tags. Modern-day marketers now have a slew of tools and websites available to help track engagement and performance across various platforms, but that’s for the more advanced and dedicated users.
If you are new to social media, then I would advise observing how others are using hashtags before jumping right in. Take a moment to browse popular posts to discern what topics are hot and trending. Many people new to social media platforms have a tendency to cram in every hashtag under the sun or to attempt using popular tags that don’t necessarily apply to the post’s content.
Don’t go overboard.
Outside of Instagram, the general rule of “less is more” strongly applies. Instagram encourages the liberal use of hashtags to expose your posts to a wider range of audiences; however, other platforms require a more targeted and measured approach for optimal engagement.
Twitter is famous in part due to its rather short character limit. It only expanded the available characters from 140 to 280 as of last year, and this count includes any hashtags used. For that reason, hashtags should be short, pithy and easily usable. The shorter and simpler the hashtag, the more likely it is to catch on, the easier it is to find and the more space you save for the actual message in your post.
The same can be said for Facebook. Even though Facebook has a much larger character limit, that does not mean you should try to max out every post. Needlessly cramming in hashtags will, in my experience, miss your audience and come across tacky — or worse — make you appear to be an out-of-touch dinosaur.
Get a feel for the hashtag culture of each platform.
After a little social media experimentation, you will start to get the feel for which types of posts generate views, and you will develop an intuition for which hashtags to use and when. You will begin seeing that each platform has its own distinct culture, which adds to the fun and should lead you to adjust your approach to hashtag strategy.
Currently, Twitter is the go-to place for news updates on developing stories and to check in on popular opinions. Facebook, meanwhile, is a more personal space that encourages lengthier posts, complete with pictures, emoticons, location stamps and more. Instagram is owned by Facebook and follows a similar style, except the picture used is the primary message as opposed to text-oriented posts.
As you learn the ins-and-outs of these different platforms, start to get creative. There have been many businesses that have adroitly tapped into relevant conversations online as ways to help promote and shape their “online brand.” Your social media brand can be a powerful way to break into the consciousness of potential customers and to shape your organization’s overall image.
One recommendation is to use consistent hashtags in coordination with any ongoing campaigns. Going by the guidelines above, one method for establishing your online brand is to create a short and simple hashtag that can be used repetitively. The consistent use of the ascribed tag on different posts will eventually begin crystalizing as a representation of your company in the minds of online community members.
Focus on your message.
Lastly, however important hashtags may be to your online presence, they cannot be relied on to do all of the work. While they are a way to gain access to the conversation, there must be a worthwhile message behind them. Clever use of imagery and messaging is necessary for any campaign to be successful, and each platform comes packed with options to amplify your post.
No matter how new you are to social media, these simple guidelines for using the hashtag are a great starting point to orient yourself and start joining the conversation. Social media will only become more relevant as younger generations move into the workforce. Learning how to use these platforms and their functions is essential for any business, organization or high-profile individual to succeed in the modern age.
June 4, 2019 at 09:03AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs