The power of the hashtag: Amplifying your content on social media

hashtagsUsing and following hashtags on social media can be a powerful way for small businesses to punch above their weight and grow their following.

So, let’s take a look at how to leverage this common feature of all social media platforms …

What is a social media hashtag?

A social media hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the symbol #. When you add a hashtag to a post on any of the major social media platforms, it becomes visible to anybody following that hashtag. 

The hashtag ends as soon as the space bar is used – meaning if you want to use a phrase of two or more words, you need to write them as one, e.g. #socialmedia. 

This word or phrase will then effectively be hyperlinked, except rather than taking the user to another web page when clicked, it will refresh their social media feed to display only posts using that particular hashtag. This is a highly effective way of helping users narrow down their feed to focus on a specific topic. As a business, this is a great opportunity to put your content in front of people searching for it. 

What are hashtags used for?

You can use hashtags to enter – or start – any conversation on social media. Let’s say you’re attending a conference. There’s likely to be a specific hashtag for this event that you can add to any posts you create, helping other attendees connect with you. You’ll also be able to search the hashtag to see a curated social media feed of posts about the event before, during and after it happens.

Essentially, hashtags exist for two reasons. One is to make your content more discoverable. When someone searches for a hashtag on a social media platform, they can see all of the content that has been tagged with that particular hashtag, including posts from businesses they aren’t currently following. This means that by using the right hashtags, you can introduce your business to potential new customers.

The second purpose of hashtags is to follow them yourself to find and engage with like-minded users. So, a retailer of organic skincare products might follow hashtags like #notoanimaltesting and #organicbeauty to join in conversations with users interested in these topics, and grow their following that way. 

Whether you use hashtags or just follow them (and we recommend both!), they’re a fantastic way to increase awareness of your brand amongst its target audience.

3 tips to use hashtags effectively for your business

Keep these three tips in mind when you choose your hashtags:

  1. Only use hashtags that are relevant to your posts. Avoid the temptation to jump on the bandwagon and tag your content with whatever hashtags are trending. This will only harm your engagement. 
  2. Look for hashtags that are popular in your industry. Tools like Hashtagify and All Hashtag can help you identify relevant and popular hashtags for your niche. 
  3. Don’t use too many hashtags. While it may be tempting to include as many hashtags as possible in your posts, this can make your content look spammy. Instead, aim for a smaller number of relevant hashtags to keep your posts targeted.

Bonus Tip

Here’s a wee extract from our Embrace the Space Social Media book where Colin shares a clever hashtag hack he uses on Twitter!

I’ve had success with hashtags by relating them to popular TV programmes. Remember, golden rule two: ‘Know the audience’ (which includes understanding what they watch on TV, which radio station they listen to, and what shops they visit on the high street).

So if my audience is small business owners who watch Dragon’s Den on a Sunday evening, I might Tweet some opinions on the business owners who are pitching and share some advice I would give them if they came to my presentation skills training course.

I could add #BBCDragonsDen at the end and this might now be seen by people who don’t know me and don’t follow me, but who happen to be watching the same TV programme and following that same hashtag. My hope would be that they then see me, follow me, read some of my other tweets, decide maybe I know a thing or two about all this, visit my website and enquire as to how I might help them. And it absolutely has been the result, several times, exactly as I’ve outlined here, and led to work.

As long as they’re used strategically – and not as part of a scattergun approach – hashtags can work wonders for your social media content, helping to place it in front of new audiences. 

For more help with your digital marketing, get booked onto one of our social media masterclasses, buy our Amazon bestselling book, or talk to our team.

Share this on social media...