How to find the right hashtags for your posts

What are hashtags, and why are they important?

Hashtags were first introduced by Twitter, but are now used across pretty much all social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok.

They are digital labels that provide you with a way of categorising your social media posts according to particular themes and topics.

By hashtagging words and phrases correctly, you can:

  • Make sure your content is discoverable
  • Increase exposure for yourself or your business
  • Publicly contribute your voice to a wider conversation

Most statistics show that posts with at least one hashtag achieve significantly more engagement. So if you want to gain more followers and get more interaction, it’s vital to understand how hashtags work and how you can use them to your advantage!

5 things you need to know about hashtags

If you’re only just getting to grips with hashtags, here are several things you need to bear in mind when you’re using them across your social media channels.

  1. Every hashtag must start with a hash symbol (#). In North America, this is sometimes referred to as a number sign or a pound sign.
  2. Hashtags cannot contain spaces. They have to be a full string of uninterrupted letters or numbers. You can’t use symbols or punctuation in your tags, either (apart from the # at the start, of course).
  3. You can use a hashtag anywhere in your post. Some users like to group all their hashtags together at the end of their content to keep it looking neat and tidy, but in theory, you can tag any word you like.
  4. The shorter, the better! Shorter hashtags are easier to type, read and remember.
  5. You can’t ‘own’ a hashtag. You can come up with a phrase that’s unique and use it prominently within your social media marketing strategy – but remember that everybody else will be able to use it too, if they want to!

How do you find the right hashtags for your posts?

This is the question I get asked ALL the time – and it’s something I cover in more detail in my social strategy workbook and in my online sessions. I could spend all day on the topic, as hashtag research and analysis is such a big part of what I do for my clients – but here are a few quick pointers:

  • Start by looking at which hashtags your competitors are using. Pick two or three of your biggest social rivals, analyse which of their posts are performing well in terms of likes, shares and comments, and see which hashtags these posts have in common.
  • See what’s trending in your industry. Are there certain hashtags that are setting your online communities on fire? Make a list of relevant, popular and active tags, and be sure to use these in your own posts to maximise your exposure and your engagement.
  • Get the stats. There are plenty of tools out there containing data that can help you understand which hashtags are performing the best. Many of these apps even allow you to monitor the use of certain hashtags over time. Hashtagify.me, Seekmetrics and Hashtag Expert for IG are some of my go-tos.

Do you need to target different hashtags on different social media platforms?

Yes, because hashtag usage does vary between the different networks. For example, a hashtag that gets a tonne of engagement on Instagram might not be so popular on Twitter, because these platforms appeal to slightly different audiences.

For the best results, repeat the steps above across all the social networks you use within your social media strategy, and come up with a hashtagging plan for each.

Need help with your hashtags?

If you’re stuck in a rut with your hashtag strategy, or just haven’t got the time to dig around for the latest hashtagging trends, I’m always here to help. Drop me a message on hello[at]jellybeansocial.co.uk and let’s chat!