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#HashtagHacks: Tips to Amplify Your Social Media Presence

| Flourish Monthly

What do you call the # symbol? Is it a pound sign? Or an octothorpe? Or maybe you’re a musician and it’s called “sharp?” For the sake of this blog, let’s call it a hashtag. Pound or sharp signs aren’t all that relevant in social media marketing! Whether you’re on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or any competing social media platforms, it’s practically impossible to escape the hashtag. But what is a hashtag? No need to be embarrassed; There’s not really a reason to know what a hashtag is unless you’re in social media marketing. But if you’re reading this, chances are your business either has a social media strategy or needs one. So let’s talk about it! Here are the ins and outs of hashtags, including what they are, why you should use them, and how to best incorporate hashtags into your social media strategy.

Hashtags originated in the summer of 2007 by Chris Messina. He worked for Twitter at the time and had the brilliant idea to group related Tweets together using the pound symbol. And that’s still what hashtags are used for today! A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the pound symbol (#marketing, for example). When a hashtag is created, it creates a clickable link that leads to a feed of other posts that use the same hashtag. Pretty cool, right? So if you’re scrolling Facebook and all you want to see is pictures of puppies, go to your search bar at the top of the page, search: “#puppies,” and voila! Your feed is now filled with puppies.

The reason why you should care as a business owner - who definitely isn’t going to be distracted by puppy photos all day - is because this is a completely free way for people who don’t follow you to start seeing your content. By including relevant hashtags in your social media posts, you can increase the visibility of your content to a broader audience beyond your followers. If you use hashtags strategically, you can increase your content’s visibility, attract new followers, engage with your target audience, and join conversations relevant to your industry or niche.

Alright, hashtags are important, we get it. But how do you use hashtags effectively? Using spaces, punctuation, or symbols in your hashtag won’t work. You also don’t want to just #use #a #hashtag #for #every #word #in #your #post. That’s cluttered and annoying. Plus, who’s going to look up #a? Probably just the few of you who are overly curious like us (at the time of writing, there are 68M very random posts that use this tag on Facebook). All jokes aside, here’s how you can make the most out of hashtags:

  1. Research relevant hashtags. Start by researching popular and relevant hashtags related to your industry, products, or services. Look for hashtags that are commonly used by your target audience. A travel advisor might want to use #travel, for example.
  2. Use a mix of general and specific hashtags. General hashtags like #smallbusiness or #travel can help you reach a broader audience, but specific ones like #venice or #cancun can help you target a more niche audience interested in your specific offerings.
  3. Create branded hashtags. Develop a unique hashtag that represents your brand or a specific campaign. Branded hashtags can help create a sense of community and encourage user-generated content. 
  4. Don’t overdo it. While hashtags are beneficial, avoid using an excessive number in a single post. Instagram, for example, allows you to use up to 30 hashtags in your caption, but the recommended number is 3-5. Each platform has a specific amount the recommend based on what amount gets the most engagement, so make sure you’re keeping up on that data to get the best results. We generally stay around 5 hashtags per post.
  5. Engage with the hashtag communities. Search for hashtags relevant to your business and engage with the content under those hashtags. Like, comment, and share posts that align with your brand. This helps you build relationships, increase your visibility, and attract potential clients.
  6. Monitor and participate in trending hashtags. Keep an eye on trending hashtags and participate in relevant conversations. If there’s a trending topic that aligns with your niche, create content around it and include the hashtag. This can help you gain exposure and join discussions with a wider audience.
  7. Participate in hashtag holidays. Hashtag holidays are the silly observances like #NationalMargaritaDay. Is this an actual holiday? No. But it’s a good excuse to create content that’s likely to get engagement in addition to attracting people who wouldn’t normally search for your content but may still be interested. There may be someone who looks up #NationalMargaritaDay, sees your post about margaritas by the pool in Cancun, and ends up booking a vacation to Cancun through you. You never know!

Remember, using hashtags is an ongoing process. Just like the rest of your social media strategy, it may require some trial and error to find what works best for your business! Stay consistent, monitor trends, and adapt your strategy as needed to maximize visibility on your social media. Jump in there and participate in trends and engage with other peoples’ content, but make sure not to overdo it. And above all else, give yourself some grace when something doesn’t work or you aren’t able to stay consistent. As a small business owner, you’re already wearing more hats than you would like to wear. Social media can be a lot of work, so it’s okay to slip up sometimes.

If you’d rather have someone else do all this research, tracking, and adapting for you, we’re here to help! Reach out to book a consultation, whether you want us to take over or you just need some extra guidance. 

Have fun looking at all those #puppies!

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