Hashtags: When Too Many Hurts Too Much

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One time, at a dinner event, I was asked by an older gentleman, “So, you know how hasthags work?”

Yes. Yes, I do.

For the hashtag neophytes, hashtags are the things people slap on the end of a post. Example: “Great day for a bike ride! #beautifulweather #nofilter # bikestuff #ridingbikes #bikes #mountainbikes #biking #helmet #safetyfirst #outdoors”How many hashtags is too many?

These hashtags aren’t just used to highlight aspects of the post or the image associated with the post.

In most social networks, where hashtags are allowed to be used, the hashtag is actually a URL that sends a user to a post stream displaying all other posts with that specific hashtag on it.

Again, using the example, if I clicked on #bikestuff, I would then see all other posts using that specific hashtag.

Hashtags are powerful. And, often, they are not used correctly.

So, here are some pointers to get you going the right direction.

Tip 1. Always use hashtags…

Ok, may be not always. but often. Not every platform allows the use of hashtags. I mean, you can write #bikestuff into some, it just won’t link anywhere. Likewise, don’t force the use of a hashtag. Let them happen almost naturally and use them when they can enhance your content. 

Tip 2. On Twitter, only use a few.

If you use more than 3, your hashtags lose relevancy. Use hashtags on this platform to categorize your posts.

Tip 3. On Instagram, you can use a lot.

Some research indicates you can use even more than 11 hashtags. However, I am of the belief that this makes posts just look kind of sophomoric. Feel free to use 5-7 , but personally, I just don’t like that many and tend to stick to my Twitter rule.

Tip 4. On Pinterest, use enough to define the product/idea.

Pinterest is a great platform to use hashtags, and once again you can use a metric-crap-load if you want to. However, this platform is a little more fluid. When using hashtags on Pinterest, align them with your brand and product, so when repins occur other users can recognize your name and product through the hashtags.

Tips 5. On Facebook, use a few, but really test this.

Facebook audiences are tough to calibrate for things like hashtags. Start off with the Twitter rule and work up to a high amount. Measure social engagements and then find your happy area. Odds are, it is around the 4-5 mark depending on the type of content.

Tip 5. Don’t listen to me, test your hashtags.

This should be at the end of every blog post located on every site.

I have tested hashtag use in multiple industries and multiple organizations. I have used none to using almost too many.

Test your outlets and your audience’s engagement when you begin to use hashtags. Maybe your audience loves hashtags on Facebook but doesn’t engage with you on Twitter when you use them?

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