Adding a hashtag or two to your social media post might feel trivial, but these tiny number signs can actually be quite powerful when used properly. Tweets with hashtags receive twice as much engagement, and Instagram posts with at least one hashtag get 29% more interactions than those without. Not only do hashtags increase visibility, but they are also helpful for targeting your message to a desired demographic or audience.
What Are Hashtags?
Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by the pound sign (#), or octothorpe. They are used to categorize content on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and more. Twitter was the first to build the concept into their platform in 2007, when a Silicon Valley product designer named Chris Messina suggested using the sign to group related tweets together.
Fast-forward 16 years and hashtags now encompass the areas of brand promotion and general interest. Hashtags are an excellent way to discover niche content and participate in conversations around a specific topic, movement, campaign, or event.
Why Are Hashtags Important in PR?
By default, your posts are shown to a limited audience. This usually includes account followers, and, if you’re lucky, the main explore page. Hashtags push content and messaging much further, to a new group of users who are already looking for topics like yours.
The benefits of using hashtags for PR includes:
- Increased visibility of a brand, campaign, event, or message to a larger audience.
- Targeted reach to specific demographics and audiences who are already searching for like-minded topics.
- An engagement boost from a large group of people who can easily discover content and join conversations with the tap of a hashtag.
- Real-time reputation management by PR professionals regarding a topic or campaign.
- The ability to conduct data analysis on the performance of a campaign based on post discourse, hashtagged content, and more.
Should Hashtags Always Be Used?
One of the most common questions we encounter is whether or not hashtags should always be used. Is a post considered unsuccessful if hashtags aren’t incorporated? Believe it or not, it’s not necessary to use hashtags on every piece of content. If your topic doesn’t seamlessly fit into any of the populated categories, leave the hashtags off.
This will help you avoid overly-general hashtags that distract from your imagery and messaging. If you have a stellar post, your content will shine on its own and get great engagement naturally. When it does make sense to use them, hashtags can be considered a helpful way to “boost” your post even further.
How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Each Platform?
According to SproutSocial, consider taking a tailored approach to your hashtag use on the various social media platforms:
- 1-2 hashtags on Facebook
- 1-2 hashtags on Twitter
- 2-3 hashtags on LinkedIn
- 3-5 hashtags on Instagram
- 3-5 hashtags on TikTok
- 0 hashtags on Pinterest (place relevant hashtags in the description area instead)
Our Best Hashtag Tips
- Research industry trending keywords relevant to your topic and use a hashtag tool like RiteTag to track the popularity of your chosen hashtags.
- Make sure your chosen hashtags are populated with at least 11 posts (any lower number will not benefit engagement).
- Avoid long lists of hashtags that look spammy or are too general. This can sometimes result in your content getting blocked by the social media platform, leading to lower visibility.
- Create a branded hashtag for a campaign, event, or brand, to track audience posts, engagement, and feedback. You can even create a location-based hashtag to engage the audience in a local area.