Hashtags make public posts more accessible to online communities and help categorize posts with similar content. This allows users who are searching for a specific subject on social media to find your posts more easily. Without hashtags, posts are less likely to reach beyond your follower list. There are various ways to use hashtags across social platforms, and using them correctly in combination with the right social content will elevate your posts and expand your reach. Let’s dive into the art of the hashtag (also known as the pound sign on your now-ancient touch-tone phone) and how hashtags are used for each social platform.
On Instagram, posts with hashtags are sorted into specific pages or collections of posts that include the same hashtag. This makes your content more discoverable, which will in turn expand your post engagement and reach. Hashtagged posts are sorted on Instagram based on how often a hashtag is used, how popular your post already is (based on likes and comments), when you posted it, and the strength of your audience. The higher your post appears, the more discoverable it is to new audiences.When using hashtags on Instagram, you can either include them in the post’s caption itself (by using them as part of your sentence or at the end of the caption) or put them in a secondary comment on the post. The latter allows the content in the caption to remain clear and unmuddled by too many hashtags. By doing this, you can also use a wide range of hashtags, expanding your post’s reach even further. Additionally, hashtags can be used in Instagram Stories to attract more views. On Instagram, users can “follow” specific hashtags and stay up to date on every post and Instagram Story that uses that hashtag. Pay attention to how many followers each hashtag you’re using attracts. Although it’s tempting to use hashtags that have been used millions of times, it’s best to balance your strategy with hashtags that are more focused and specific to your audiences.
How to Search for Hashtags on Instagram
Just like you’d search for a user account, enter your hashtag search query in the search bar at the top of your screen. On mobile, you’ll find the search bar at the bottom—it’s the magnifying glass icon. Simply begin typing # followed by your intended hashtag. Instagram will auto-suggest popular hashtags and include number of times other users have posted using those same hashtags.
Unlike Instagram, hashtags are not sorted into their own followable pages on Twitter. They’re sorted together under the search function, and organized based on popularity and how recent the post is. If a Tweet has hashtags and media, such as a video or photo, it’s sorted into its own category. Also unlike Instagram posts, Tweets have limited characters, so you don’t want to overdo it with hashtags. Make your hashtags short and easy to remember, and spell them correctly (they’ll get lost if they have typos, so try and keep them as simple as possible for your audiences).
How to Search for Hashtags on Twitter
When you log into Twitter from your desktop, you’ll find the search bar at the top right of your screen, or at the bottom of the screen on mobile. Unlike Instagram, Twitter won’t auto-suggest hashtags when you begin typing (at least not in the desktop view), but it will show you what other users are tweeting with your intended hashtag. One great thing about the Twitter search feature is that you can get hashtag ideas from other users based on what’s popular. And of course, you can always see the top trending hashtags.
Hashtags on Facebook are relatively new compared to other platforms, and their use on the platform has typically been much more infrequent. That being said, hashtags are a great way to expand your post’s engagement and reach. Hashtags on Facebook are sorted into pages, similar to Instagram, but aren’t followable. Like Twitter, Facebook has a relatively low recommended character limit (typically between 40 and 80 characters), so you don’t want to overload your posts with hashtags. A good way to overcome this issue is to use the hashtags as a part of your captions/post text (i.e. Welcome to the #Meld Facebook page! Here, we focus on building #brands). Using branded, topical, and/or humorous hashtags will increase your engagement and the likelihood that your audience will use them, too.
How to Search for Hashtags on Facebook
The easiest way to search for hashtags on Facebook is… you guessed it! The search bar. Facebook’s hashtag search feature isn’t as savvy as Instagram and Twitter, but you can still search to see how people are using your intended hashtag and how frequently it appears.
Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn also recently added hashtags as a feature. While they are a relatively new feature on the platform, hashtags still provide a great opportunity to increase your reach. On LinkedIn, users can follow or search for the hashtags being used in your posts. While hashtags are a consistent trend among all social media platforms, the hashtags you use on LinkedIn are different. Because LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s important to use hashtags that reflect this. They can be added to any post, but your hashtags shouldn’t take away from the content of your post. Using related, topical hashtags can increase the overall reach of your post. Hashtags on LinkedIn are even automatically recommended within the post window based on your content.
How to Search for Hashtags on LinkedIn
Start typing in your hashtag in the search bar at the top of the page, and you’ll receive recommendations on hashtags with similar keywords. For example, if you start typing ‘brand,’ you’ll receive recommendations for #brandedmerchandise, #brandcommunication, and #brandexpert. If you choose a hashtag, it shows you how many people are following the specific hashtag and other LinkedIn users who are leveraging similar hashtags.
When you use hashtags on social media, you should always follow the guidelines for each specific platform. Hashtags are a great way to expand reach, engagement, and discoverability of any post… as long as they’re used correctly. Want to learn more about how social media can benefit your company or organization? Reach out and we can discuss ways to help you improve your social strategy.