The Rise Of #Hashtags# as a Powerful Discovery Tool
Hashtags – We have seen it, we talk about it, we know it. Wait. Do we really know what it is although we flood our profiles with them? Hashtags are basically keywords related to anything like culture, feeling, place or brand, preceded by the # symbol which helps in indexing posts, pictures etc for better discovery and engagement. They function as a mini search engine – hence they are advertisers’ favourite.
Brief History of Hashtags
Hashtag was first used on Twitter in 2007 by a former Google employee Chris Messina. The post was:
How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp msg?
The suggestion was not welcome by Twitter until forest fires broke out in San Diego the same year. According to Messina, it was a way of categorizing data for people who found it difficult to navigate through the site.
Hashtags have evolved rapidly ever since Instagram became popular. The concept of influencers emerged and hashtag usage went to a different level altogether. The significance of hashtags would be well understood by influencers and social media marketers. Its usage can either boost or downgrade their brand’s value. There is no foolproof method of using hashtags effectively as it needs to be tried and tested based on the current industry trends.
What to do with Hashtags
We mentioned above how hashtags function as a search engine on social media. The key here is to use relevant hashtags to make your post discoverable and attract potential audience. For example, people searching for #summerwear are potential buyers. So your content needs to be relevant enough for people searching for summer clothes. Or, if you have a product in the same category, it will be discoverable for people searching for summer-wear using this hashtag.
By balancing the usage of hashtags that are trending in your industry, with a few moderately popular ones in combination with lesser popular ones have shown to maximize engagement. The idea of unique hashtags might work well for brands and their campaigns. For example, McDonald’s #ImLovinit campaign was started in order to get its popularity back in the U. S and other places after their business was down.
What NOT to do with Hashtags
Hashtags are for indexing. You do not want your content to go unnoticed by using an irrelevant hashtag or using one that is too popular. Using a general and highly popular hashtag, chances are high that your content gets drowned in the pool of posts. Another question that is quite obvious is that – how many hashtags are optimal? Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags. An average of 10-15 works well in most cases but most influencers notice maximum engagement with 23-25 at least.
Hash-tagging each word is a bad practice and leads to spamming of content. In the process of being cool with hashtags, the purpose should not be forgotten. There are different success stories and formulae for different businesses and brands. The key here is to identify what strategy works best, by following other businesses in your field and trying out different techniques. If you have a business that you think will do better with social media, it is best to get in touch with a marketing agency that can guide you in reaching a wider audience with the right set of strategies on the right platforms.