Hashtags: you either love them or hate them. This blog has pondered hashtag usage before and received a mixed response from readers on their effectiveness and aesthetic appeal. But more than a year after that discussion, one thing is clear. Hashtag usage should be defined more than ever by social platform.
Social Platform Hashtag Usage
Twitter? One to two hashtags raises engagement and can help you reach new audiences. Three or more turn off potential readers because #nobody #wants to #read a #tweet #like #this. Remember, aesthetics matter, especially now that pictures are viewed directly in the tweet and articles can be previewed. CCC Tip: put your hashtags at the end of the tweet if character space allows.
Facebook? Not so much. The largest social network was late to the game recognizing hashtags and its audience doesn’t have patience for them. One or two may bring new eyes to your post, but make sure you tuck them in at the end so they’re as out of sight as possible. CCC Tip: Pass on hashtag usage on Facebook; they do more damage than good. In fact, when we published the previous hashtag post, Facebook was where we received the most negative feedback on the subject.
Pinterest? Meh. The verdict is sill out on this platform, so you may want to use a couple of applicable hashtags, if appropriate, or bypass altogether. Pins are typically easier to find via category (by search) or by board, so make sure to ‘file’ them properly. Also, take advantage of board descriptions! Let your prospective audience know why they should follow a particular board so they’re more likely to see future pins.
Instagram? Gold mine. Some days it seems like hashtags were created for this popular visual platform instead of Twitter. Sure, you’ll see some people complain about the plethora of hashtags used on this site (30 are allowed per photo), but they are SO effective in bringing increased traffic when used appropriately.
Hashtag Guidelines on Instagram
- First, only tag your photos with hashtags that make sense; don’t tag accounts or hashtags only to fool people into looking at your picture. That makes people mad, so it’s not an effective long-term solution. Example: CCC is a marketing company that specializes in writing (including social media), but we don’t tag a picture of a sunset with #marketing, #writing or #socialmedia (unless it’s applicable for some reason).
- Research hashtags to check their popularity and what type of photos show up in the search. More popular hashtags (#socialmedia, #writing) mean more people are searching, but more results in the search mean more competition. Less popular hashtags (such as ones you create) have less competition, but you’ll need to promote the tag to draw eyes to it. During your research, get a feel for what type of photos show up in the search. You may be surprised by the double meaning of some hashtags or an unexpected use by another campaign.
- You can use up to thirty hashtags per photo, but don’t feel obligated. In our experience, most photos don’t warrant that many hashtags.
- Creating your own hashtag? Try to keep it reasonable in length and avoid special characters (?!#$%), because they don’t work. Numbers do though. Make your hashtag easy to remember and promote, promote, promote!
Hashtags & Instagram: An Experiment that Produced Results
I was reviewing our Instagram account on Sunday evening (OK, more like Monday morning) and decided to try adding hashtags to older photos that didn’t have any or only had one or two. I thought it would be worth the time to draw more traffic and possibly bring new eyes to CCC’s posts. Wow! I couldn’t believe the results.
In only 48 hours, we picked up nearly 100 likes, 10 comments and 6 new followers.
These numbers are for an account with 185 followers, under 300 photos and little to no engagement at some points in the past, so we’re thrilled!
Conclusion: Appropriate hashtag usage on Instagram will result in major traffic increase, so please use responsibly.
Join the Discussion
Do you agree with our recommended hashtag usage on the social platforms mentioned above? Or have you had a different experience?
Do you have any Instagram hashtag guidelines to add?
Have you conducted a hashtag experiment on any social platform?
Hashtags: do you love them or hate them?
p.s. It’s Election Day! Go vote and make your voice heard.
A reformed, if reluctant, hashtagger,