Hashtags have become an integral part of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, serving as powerful tagging and labelling tools to categorise content, and steer people towards relevant topics, themes, and sub-cultures.
When used effectively, hashtags can amplify your posts' reach, foster community engagement, and help you connect with users who share common interests. With this in mind, we're jumping into some tips and best practices around using hashtags effectively on Instagram and Facebook to enhance your online presence and engagement, and hopefully help your small business reach more new customers.
Hashtags are keywords or phrases preceded by the '#' symbol, which turns them into clickable links.
When users click on a hashtag or search for it, they are directed to a feed of posts using the same hashtag as you can see above, thus compiling them en masse to be discovered by people who are interested in similar topics, even if they don't follow you.
Research and selection
Choose hashtags that are relevant to your content. Consider the theme, subject matter, and tone of your post. Much like keyword stuffing is considered bad practice in SEO, using irrelevant hashtags can lead to your account being shadowbanned, as well as confusion for users, and may ultimately deter potential followers due to unreliable or misleading content categorisation.
Be sure to take a look at what hashtags your competitors are using, as well as relevant influencers in your field. Use your Instagram Explore page to find related content as part of your hashtag research, and gain insight into which hashtags are effective within your niche.
Popularity vs. niche
Strive for a balance between popular and niche hashtags. Popular hashtags have a larger audience but also face higher competition when searched. Niche hashtags, just like keywords with low to medium search volume, can help you tap into a more targeted and engaged audience.
If applicable, create and use branded hashtags unique to your content or campaign. Branded hashtags can help build a sense of community among your followers, and make your content appear more recognisable and consistent.
Quantity and placement
While Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, it's essential to focus on quality over quantity. We suggest aiming for around 5 to 15 relevant hashtags to avoid appearing spammy.
Unlike Instagram, where hashtags are more commonly used, Facebook posts tend to perform better with fewer hashtags — typically 1 to 3. Choose wisely, and focus only on the most relevant and impactful ones.
Caption or comment
Keeping hashtags in the comments is especially useful if your captions tend to be on the longer side, or if you’re going for more impact with the message or CTA in your caption. Either way, it’s well worth experimenting with both to see which works best for you.
Monitoring and evolving
Regularly monitor how different hashtags impact your post's reach and engagement. Tools like Instagram Insights and Facebook Insights can provide valuable data on which hashtags are driving the most interactions.
Rotation and adaptation
Keep your hashtag strategy dynamic. Over time, certain hashtags might lose relevance or become oversaturated. Replace them with fresh, trending alternatives to maintain your content's visibility.
Seasonal and trending hashtags
Capitalise on seasonal events, holidays, and trending topics by incorporating relevant buzzwords in your hashtags. However, always ensure they align with your content to maintain authenticity and relevance.
Etiquette and best practices
Avoid overloading: Don't overcrowd your posts with hashtags, as this can come across as spammy. Focus on quality and relevance.
No spaces or special characters: Ensure that your hashtags are written without spaces or special characters. For multi-word hashtags, try to capitalise the first letter of each word for clarity.
Try interacting with posts using the same hashtags you, as doing so can help expand your reach a foster connections to grow awareness of your brand within relevant communities.
Mastering the art of using hashtags effectively is just one of many steps in an effective social media strategy. By incorporating relevant hashtags that resonate with your audience, you can increase your content's visibility, connect with like-minded users, and ultimately enhance your brand’s social media presence. Remember that social media is dynamic, so staying up-to-date with current trends and best practices is crucial for long-term success.