Social media summer school: Using hashtags

Hashtags are still the best way to get your content discovered by a larger audience on social media, particularly on Instagram. In this Social Media Summer School session we’ll go over some best practices for hashtags and how measurement can maximize your hashtag impact.

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Where should I use hashtags?

First, the very basics: Individuals, personal brands and brands should all use hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Facebook doesn’t see a lot of hashtag use and we as a brand have only seen positive feedback when using “national day” hashtags on Facebook (like #NationalRunningDay), but it’s worth testing for your particular brand, especially if you have a popular event hashtag you’re using across platforms. Try it in a few posts and see if it gives you a boost.

How should I use hashtags?

On Twitter, stick to about one hashtag per tweet; more than two starts to look spammy very quickly and you also want to use your character limit to convey as much information as possible, not to use as many hashtags as possible.

On Instagram you can use up to 30 hashtags. We used to advise using about 5-7 hashtags and that’s still a good place to start, but now that Instagram abbreviates captions until users expand them fully, don’t be afraid to go up to the limit if you have that many relevant hashtags to use. That’s the key: Keep them relevant. Don’t forget you can also add your hashtags to the comments section of your post and they will work the same way, if that creates a cleaner look for your brand.

For a deeper dive on hashtag best practices, see The latest on using hashtags on Instagram and Finding the right hashtags on Twitter.

The golden hashtag rule

Always, always research hashtags before you use them across platforms. This way you’ll see if they’re already in use and most importantly, how they’re being used if they are.

Something that seems straightforward might not be and you can avoid a crisis communication situation with a few minutes worth of searching, clicking and scrolling.

The same goes for emojis, which can be hashtagged on Instagram.

Measure

Make measuring hashtag performance a regular part of your metrics reviews. You can use something like our Instagram account checkup to see which hashtag is getting your brand the most engagement, or go more in-depth with our comprehensive analytics.

The latter will give you a chart mapping the frequency and effectiveness of the hashtags you’ve been using in any particular time:

hashtags

And also a table that lays out different engagement metrics for each hashtag, letting you choose the ones that get you the response you want from your audience.

hashtags 2

This will depend on what your specific goals are for your brand on Instagram: Are you striving to become a thought leader in your industry? Build an Instagram community for your fans and followers? Establish your brand as a lifestyle brand? Think about which hashtags will help you reach those goals and work on finding more related to them to test on your future posts (the explore pages are great for this as well as checking in on what industry influencers are using)).

Keep measuring and repeating and, as always, let us know if you have any questions!

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