posted in Sales & Marketing

What Are Hashtags And How To Use Them Properly?

The world moves on around us regardless of whether we're keeping up, a new year, new words in the dictionary, new hot tactics to move your business forward, and then some. As a result, the years can pass us by and the time to investigate or ask seems to go with it. But today we're unashamedly laying it out there, for those who don't know, for those who think they know, for anyone involved in marketing a small business. Hashtags may be old news, there isn't a person in business who doesn't know the word, but how about using them? Or how about using them effectively? Or Powerfully? Let's get into it...

What Are Hashtags And How To Use Them Properly?

What’s the concept of a hashtag?

Hashtags are everywhere these days. Even those who don’t use social media will have seen them used or heard them mentioned at some point.

But what exactly are they and what is their use? Although they’re as common as pigeons in Trafalgar Square, not everyone familiar with the modern term hashtags knows their purpose.

Hashtags are a way for people to filter and discover content that’s relevant to them. Social media is FULL of content, so much so that people need some way of being able to easily locate the stuff on subjects they’re interested about without searching for hours.

This is where the hashtag comes in. #hashtag #tutorial #explaininghashtags #usinghashtags

From your perspective, it’s a way of highlighting your posts to those who are actively searching for posts containing the hashtags you have used as they’re interested in that ‘category’ of content. So for instance, I could use the examples in the sentence above on social media if I wanted to attract those looking for content about hashtags. If they conducted a hashtag search of any of those words or phrases, my post would appear somewhere in their search.

So it’s actually a very simple and logical way, in a world flooded with social media channels and content, of advertising your particular content and connecting with social media users who might be interested in what you have to say or sell.

Where can you use hashtags

So you now know a little bit about what hashtags are for. The next question is: where to use them?

You can use hashtags on many social media platforms. Twitter is the social network most commonly associated with hashtags and will have a daily list of most popularly used hashtags (which social media analysts use to identify the most popular, or ‘trending’, news items). But you can also use them for the same purposes on the following social media sites:

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • Youtube
  • Tumblr
  • Vine

So the more social media accounts you utilise, the more potential you have to reach out to prospective customers or followers through using hashtags. Facebook doesn’t use hashtags in the same way i.e. you can’t use them as a way of filtering content, although Facebook users have taken to inserting hashtags into their posts to express particular sentiments or emotions.

Links to tools that help discover the best hashtags

So that’s the what, why and where dealt with. Now time to start putting things into practice. Rather than just randomly firing out hashtags into the social media universe, it makes sense to do a little research on which might be the most effective hashtags to use and how to go about tracking their effectiveness. Here are some links to a few useful tools.

Hashtags.org

This is a useful starter site that tells you which are the most popular current ‘trending’ hashtags and what the most popular hashtags are for specific subjects. There are also lots of articles about using hashtags and statistics measuring popularity. You can access a certain amount of information on the site for free. You can also upgrade to a paid account if you want to investigate the site content in-depth.

Hasthags.org for hashtag discovery

Hashtagify.me

This is a good site for seeing which words best relate to a particular hashtag keyword, which is useful if you want to use more than one hashtag on a topic in order to expand your reach. So for example, you can type ‘manufacturing’ into the search bar and it will bring up an eye-catching visual of related hashtags containing information when you hover over them (see below).

Hasthagify.me for hashtag discovery

Ritetag.com

This is a really useful tool for Twitter that guides you through which are the best hashtags to use. You type your tweet and insert your hashtags - RiteTag will highlight them in red (avoid as too many people using it), green (use it to get seen now), blue (use it to get seen over time) or grey (not popular). The site also recommends alternative hashtags that are more likely to get you noticed.

Ritetag.com for hashtag discovery

Hootsuite.com

Hootsuite is a useful site because it allows you to post your hashtag across multiple social media platforms at once, meaning that you can manage everything in one place. You can also track your hashtag activity as well as pre-schedule posts. This makes your social media marketing much easier and stops you from getting overwhelmed, especially if you are new to this lark. They also have a Free membership plan, it's limited but still really useful for small business marketers.

Hootsuite.com for hashtag discovery

Some suggested best hashtags for Small UK Manufacturers

You can utilise the above websites to discover the best hashtags to use for your specific manufacturing business or campaign. Here are some useful suggestions about UK manufacturing in general that you could use in order to connect with other UK-based manufacturers or customers.

#ukmanufacturing
#madeinbritain
#supplychain
#SME
#manufacturingjobs
#EngineeringUK
#UKEngineering
#UKMfg
#CNC

Best Practices for Using Hashtags

Be specific

You want to get noticed but you don’t want to get lost in a sea of people all using the same hashtags. So you want something that enables you to hone in on your target market or community. So for example, if you want to connect with people interested in Memory Foam mattresses, you will be better off using #memoryfoammattress than just #mattress.

Understand the platform

Although hashtags broadly serve the same purpose across all platforms, each social media site will use them slightly differently. For example, Twitter has a 140 character limit so it’s best to use just two or three hashtags per tweet, whereas on Instagram you can use up to 30 hashtags and it’s used primarily as a way of increasing followers. Familiarise yourself with the hashtag conventions on each site you use.

Be business-minded in your hashtag use

Think creatively. For example, you could use hashtags in campaign promotions such as ‘reply within an hour of us posting with #happyhour and receive a 20% discount’. Or you could build relevant content around trending topics (useful around occasions such as #MothersDay or #FathersDay).

Don’t forget to track your hashtags

Once you’ve decided what hashtags to use, you want to make sure they’re working for you by tracking their effectiveness online. You can do this through sites such as Hashtagify, Rite Tag and hashtags.org.

Don’t make hashtags too long

Avoid using hashtags that are so long that nobody will ever type them into a search. Over-long hashtags also increase the probability of misspellings too, making campaigns ineffective. Abbreviate where possible but make sure you use common abbreviations (e.g. London to LDN) and not something too obscure for people to understand.

Don’t stuff posts full of hashtags

Although Instagram does favour multiple hashtagging, it’s sensible to keep posts on most sites down to less than five (ideally between 1-3) otherwise it gets messy, dilutes your message and will likely attract spammers and those not interested in your core message.

Conclusion

Hashtags aren’t essential, but they are an effective way of getting your social posts in front of people who don’t directly follow your social media movements. As a result, Hashtags are a simple and free way of attracting more attention on social media and thus boosting your online presence.

Ashley Pearce

Ashley is our resident Engineering Marketer. Passionate about everything Engineering, Innovative and Creative, his mission is to get UK Manufacturers online and growing.

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