I know most of you use or are familiar with social media. On average, you could be on any one or all of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Social media platforms are made up of numerous features and functionalities. Today I want to talk about hashtags. You probably have seen them and even used them. Question: do you even know what they are all about? Do you understand their importance? Do you know how to effectively use them? All these questions and more will be addressed as I discuss the importance of hashtags and how to use them for your business.

What Hashtags Are: An Overview

Hashtags in the context of social media entail prefixing certain words or phrases with this: #. They are more than just a mere feature on social media. They are a tool you can and must effectively use to essentially tag your content. The use of hashtags is most common on Twitter (where it was popularised) and Instagram. When it comes to widening your reach on social media, hashtags are tried and tested. They are also vital in encouraging engagement around your content. There are so many benefits that come with effectively using hashtags.

Hashtags make your content more discoverable and when that happens, your brand awareness grows as well. Hashtags help build a community around your content and brand. For example, there is a toiletries brand called Lulu. One of the hashtags they use in their content is #lulucares. Whenever they post anything they include that hashtag. Most of the people who engage with their content also include that in their comments (they encourage them to do so).

That effectively creates a community of Lulu brand users. Whenever you want to search on anything regarding Lulu, using that #lulucares hashtag brings up any post or comment ever made about the brand. I am just using this example to help you see how you can benefit from hashtags as a brand. By doing such searches you can even gauge how popular your brand is online. This is because the social media platforms tell you how many times your hashtag has been used.

To add to the discoverability aspect, you can use hashtags in a generic sense. From the example, I used I mentioned a brand-specific hashtag. However, that is not all there is to it since you can use generic hashtags. A random example, just to paint a picture is #zimbabweclothingsales. Let us suppose you sell clothing items. Including that hashtag in your content increases the likelihood of your brand popping up in searches online.

Now that you have gotten an idea of what hashtags are and their importance, let us get into how to effectively come up with and use them.

Effective Use Of Hashtags: The Principle

In choosing hashtags there are several things to consider. At the core, you must communicate your brand identity or image. More like from hashtags the important things about your brand should be apparent. Then you must factor in generally popular hashtags if needs be. For instance, #throwbackthursday is one of the most used hashtags when posting content that relates to the past. You can also scan around to see what is trending. When using generic hashtags it is important to make sure the post is relevant to the hashtag. There will typically be hashtags characteristic of the industry your brand falls under. Over time you can then track to see how your hashtags are performing.

When you start to type in a hashtag and it gives you an autofill option then that is a good sign. The number of times the hashtags have been used will also give you an idea. I know on Facebook when you enter a hashtag, if it has been used before, it will show you stuff like ‘…fewer than 1000 posts. That is an indicator of the number of times the hashtags have been used. At the end of the day, it boils down to applying the A/B testing approach. There is a detailed article I did on that so kindly check it out to learn more.

In closing, you must appreciate some tips on using hashtags. The basic one is the syntax of any hashtag – it should be words or phrases prefixed by #. Remember everything should be strung together i.e. no spaces or symbol characters e.g. /, -, and the like. If you use a phrase hashtag, always make it short. Too many words will ruin the essence. This also applies to the number of different hashtags you use say, in a post or comment.

Less is more; do not clog your content with too many hashtags.  Lulu for example mostly uses just two hashtags, #lulucares and #shandisalulu. When I see something with too many hashtags, it puts me off because it looks shady and desperate. Many people react that way as well. Relevance is also paramount when choosing your hashtags. From today onwards, start incorporating the use of hashtags in your social media strategy as a brand.