How Hashtags Help To Grow Your Influence
If you had a tool to make your social media posts more findable, would you want to know about it?
Well, the good news is that such a tool exists, and it’s already baked into most social platforms.
It’s the humble hashtag. For over 20 years now, the hashtag has become a way that we catalog, search, and even describe the content that we post online.
Even though they seem to make little sense for humans, they help the algorithms incredibly. They are a tool for sorting and showing trends, topics, and shortening the search process.
Who Invented The Hashtag?
Originally titled the ‘octothorp’ the symbol has been around since the invention of the phone. Commonly called the pound sign on telephones, it started to evolve in use around the mid-90s.
Even though the hashtag format had been used before by chat platforms IRC and Jaiku, the idea of making it a part of social media was first introduced by Twitter.
The first hashtag was used on Twitter in 2007 by Chris Messina. He developed a detailed suggestion for using hashtags on Twitter, and how they would help people who wanted more of a ‘group’ feeling to their social media use.
This distinction was an important one, as rather than just connecting one user to another, it made the platform more open and allowed connection to others with the same interests.
What Does a Hashtag Do?
Think about the last time you went to the library.
When you look up a book, they aren’t all cataloged by author or title, but by subject. The Dewey-decimal system helps to categorize books first by topic before the author or the title.
Similarly, hashtags help social media platforms to organize and catalog content to make it easier to find. While you can search for a specific person on most social media, it is harder to search for a topic.
When you include hashtags in your content postings, you help social platforms index your content in a way that is discoverable to everyone, not just your followers.
For example, if you run a travel agency, using hashtags like #vacay #getaway might be useful to help your users find you. It also helps the algorithms to better group you with them.
Five Different Types of Hashtags
Of course, not all hashtags are created equal. Some are used for technical reasons, while others are more for personal taste. Here are the five ways that hashtags have evolved to be used on social media.
These are usually topics that will be in the public eye for a day or a week at most. If something is in the news, it will typically start.
2) Specific or Targeted
For business, targeted hashtags can be especially useful. For example, if you run a wine business, you could target specific grapes, regions, blends, or any other part of the topic that wine lovers will usually search for.
2) Location or Event
Adding an event-based hashtag can help people to find you by location. While a location hashtag is not the same as a location pin, it still is searchable and can be useful, especially for business.
On Instagram in particular, there is a plethora of inspirational material, and using hashtags to catalog these posts has become standard practice. Typical hashtags like #inspiration #hustle and #entrepreneur are used to target those who also want to tap into the zeitgeist of the platform.
5) Funny or Ironic.
Of course, with anything online, eventually, there is a parody version. With hashtags, people will use them to further the point or to make something funny. Hashtags like #sorrynotsorry are an example of how people can add hashtags to a post to make it have a different meaning.
Should I Bother Using Hashtags?
Hashtags don’t just help the algorithm; they help searchers as well. They make it easier to find and to follow your content. This is especially true on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter but is also becoming important for Youtube as well.
How to Use Hashtags on Twitter
As the originator of hashtags in social media, you will see a lot of them used in Tweets. Make sure to include a few with each post to make your post findable by topic. You can also review the currently trending hashtags on twitter (now found under the #Explore section) and contribute to these by adding the same hashtags to your posts.
How to Use Hashtags on Instagram
When using hashtags on Instagram, the approach is a little different. Because Instagram is a visual-based platform, hashtags appear in the captions section of the post. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post, and depending upon who you choose to believe, the optimum amount is somewhere between 10-30 per post.
Another critical element of Instagram is the fact that users can follow a specific hashtag. This means that if your posts perform well and they contain the hashtag that a user follows, they are often shared to their feed.
How to Use Hashtags on Youtube
While hashtags are still a new feature on YouTube, it can offer great potential for increasing your searchability.
Adding hashtags on YouTube is as easy as adding a video description and video title. All you have to do is to add the hashtags on the video description itself. After uploading the video, you will be able to see the first three hashtags above the video description. You can add up to 15 hashtags, but only the first three are visible on the video.
If you have older video content on YouTube, you must update it with hashtags. Make sure that the hashtags genuinely reflect the content that users would expect after typing in that hashtag.
As with any social media platform, it can take a while to understand how it all works. Hashtags are not very logical the first few times you use them, but they can grow your search-ability and following when used correctly and consistently. Test out some hashtags in your social posts and see what results you can achieve by putting them to work for you.