Each social media platform has its unique purposes and vary in terms of consumer usage, but they all share one common aspect that helps brand awareness and key searching.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google & Linkedin, all share the use of the hashtag to help connect users to products or followers to other followers with like interests.

For those who are not familiar with hashtags, a “hashtag” is the number symbol “#” followed by a phrase or single word. When you post an image (on instagram), or written post on social media (on Facebook or Twitter), you can follow or caption the post with a “#” followed by something relevant to the post’s content.

In evaluating how the use of hashtags can help your business, hashtags are a super easy and efficient way to grow your company’s network on social media platforms. Although “hashtagging” itself is not very complex, there are many ways people can use hashtags to connect with new businesses or people on social media.

For example if you are a restaurant owner posting a picture of a new menu item on Instagram, you can follow the caption with “#yum #foodie #newmenu” and so on. This connects your post with every other post on that social media platform that used the same hashtag. If a user is looking at a post from another restaurant, or even just a post from a friend, they can click on the hashtag and your post will show up on their screen. If they simply search “#yum” in the search bar on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter the same thing will occur and your post will again reach their screen.

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Even when a user is not familiar with your company and is not directly searching for your business’ social media account, the hashtag greatly increases their ability to find your company’s account, increasing the size of your company’s network and online following.

Hashtags are also extremely helpful to your business even if it is not your business that is posting the hashtag. If you own a clothing or home furniture store and one of your customers posts a picture on social media of a product they purchased from you with “#lovethis #yourcompanyname,” their followers can then search for your company with the name provided in the hashtag. Even without necessarily clicking on the hashtag, it can still indirectly lead potential followers to your company’s social media account.

Hashtags are relatively straightforward, however there are many things that can go wrong with hashtags.To be sure you maximize the effectiveness and success of the hashtags in your company’s posts, it is important to always perform the three tasks below when posting hashtags.

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Find What’s Trending

Although you can add as many hashtags as you wish to your company’s social media posts, it can also be extremely helpful to research what specific hashtags are trending each day. If “#love” is trending today, as long as you find it somewhat relevant to your company’s post, you should include it. If the hashtag is trending, more people are searching for it on social media platforms and therefore your post is likely to be viewed by more users.

Research your Hashtags

Just like with anything else your company posts on social media, always be sure what you are posting cannot be found offensive to consumers. Although the word or phrase you are posting may mean one thing to you and your company, it could mean something entirely different in context to social media trends. If you are unsure of a certain word or phrase you wish to include in a hashtag on your post, it can be extremely helpful to search the hashtag first and see what other posts have used the hashtag. This is very effective in helping avoid any scrutiny or offense taken by your company’s social media posts.

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Manage how much you Hashtag

Although you can potentially post as many hashtags as you wish, it is important you learn how to manage your hashtagging and not overcrowd your post. Including too many hashtags in one post can take away from the meaning and purpose of the post itself, as well as cause consumers to think your company is trying too hard to gain followers. I would recommend including anywhere from 1-3 hashtags, 4 hashtags at most, to insure you maintain a high quality image for your company’s social media. It is also important to list your hashtags from top trending to least trending so more users will be familiar with the first hashtag they see.

When used correctly, hashtags have proved extremely effective with the expansion of social media today, in expanding every user’s network. Hashtags allow users to reach businesses and people they otherwise never would have encountered. Hashtags are extremely simple to implement in social media posts, and yet very effective in reaching your company’s large audience.

With the billions of users on social media platforms today, it can seem near impossible to reach a large majority of your potential consumers, but hashtags are making that possible, enabling companies and people everywhere to maximize their outreach to the larger population.

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