Once upon a time, in a Google office, some unassuming employee tried to impress his friends with his mad organizational skills.
He shared his idea on Twitter.
There it is, folks! The very first hashtag.
This innocent tweet started it all. This was the initial intent of the hashtag – as an organizational and search tool.
Users now had a simple method to search for content on Twitter.
Now that hashtags are used across the top three social media platforms, users have adapted the way they use hashtags, according to the type of social media. There’s one key things to remember here – no matter which platform – always use a hashtag that’s relevant to the content of the post.
If you’re using clever, personalized, unknown hashtags, you might as well type #sdljkldjasdkljaasl. This may also prevent your post from grouping with influencers in your area of business. Creative branding can take time to catch on if you’re a small business. Aiming for straightforward and relevant is always better than random and totally unsearchable.
Hashtaggin’ With The Top 3
Here’s a basic guide to using hashtags on the big 3 social media platforms. Hashtags increase engagement with your followers, drive traffic to your content and attract new business to your brand. You can use hashtags on platforms such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube, but this practice is way more popular with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Hashtags are a good way to brand posts for business. Below I’ve created a post on our business page and used two very relevant hashtags: the type of business and our company name. Businesses can benefit from the use of targeted hashtags since competition for newsfeed visibility is tough. The downside is – Facebook is so massive that searches bring up endless content. By using hashtags for our company name and our business service, I’m making sure that users searching for virtual assistants will always see our name associated with our business.
Instagram permits up to 30 hashtags per photo, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all. The quickest way to irritate Instagrammers is hashtag abuse. This also makes you look incredibly desperate for followers, which is never attractive. A few targeted hashtags that will group your photo with (preferably) viral content is key. Whatever you do, use a hashtag! You’ll get 12.6% more engagement!
So many of the hashtags on Instagram are branded, so it’s easy to do searches for business colleagues and learn what is working for them. In a nice change from the combative world of Facebook, Instagram promotes positivity and hashtags that offer messages of encouragement.
Virtual assistant work is very fulfilling, so adding a hashtag such as #lovemyjob may draw in potential hires who are looking for a career change. It’s ok to be more creative on Instagram, but remember to pay attention to the trends in your industry.
Using hashtags on Twitter is a convenient way to join conversations related to your business. The downside to Twitter is the hijacking of many common hashtags by bots and spammers. The way to get around this is to create hashtag pairs, one long, short.
For tweets about CVG, I might use #virtualassistants #cvg or #canadianvirtualgurus #virtualwork. You’ll need to think about authentication and matching general hashtags with more specific ones to get the best results in searches. I am going to avoid hashtags like #workathomejobs or #workathome because these are probably hijacked by spammers.
With less real estate to work with, keep your hashtags at a minimum of two. The good news is that you can hashtags words in your post to target searches. Again, make sure you get as specific as possible. A post such as “I love #cats” is nowhere near as effective as “I love the #AmericanDomesticShorthair”.
Hijacking hashtags isn’t always a bad thing as long as your heart is in the right place. Complex Magazine posted about #NationalDonutDay and since they are a pop culture magazine, this works. I may hijack #womeninbusiness from time to time since the virtual assistant industry is predominantly female. But I’m also going to provide content that is engaging to women as part of that conversation. You should be able to explain and justify every hashtag you use in a post. If you can’t – hit delete.
It’s fun to experiment with hashtags and tailor them to each social media platform. Knowing how to use hashtags effectively can be an important tool in your social media strategy. Hashtags can increase your audience, develop new networking opportunities and build your business.
How do you use hashtags? Share your strategy for hashtag greatness below!