Marketing Monday: Let’s Talk Hashtags

The rebrand is live, and so is Marketing Monday! This week we’re talking about Hashtags. What they are, what they do, when and where to use them, and hashtag best practices. Plus, check out the audio version on Instagram to get bonus tips and hear your business and nonprofit hashtag questions answered! Looking for influencer related advice on hashtags? Check out Influencer.Explorer!

Desktop computer on a desk with white lamps. Desktop shows the Explorer Media Instagram account with hashtags in bio and images.

What are Hashtags?

A hashtag is a keyword or set of keywords that come after the pound sign (to my Boomers), the number sign (my fellow millennials), or to the GenZ crowd out there, the hashtag sign. Or even easier, this thing: #

The first platform to use hashtags was Twitter, way back in 2007, which led to their “Trending Topics” page with the most popular hashtags (1). Since then, almost every social platform has had them or introduced them, Instagram had hashtags from the start, Facebook added them another few years down the line, and more.

What do Hashtags do?

Hashtags categorize your content, allowing it to more easily show up in searches or in the feed of an individual who follows that tag. 

Where Should I Use Hashtags?

Not all hashtags are created equal. On Twitter, trending topics are no longer just hashtags, and topics in your feed aren’t either. Pinterest, hashtags aren’t consistently clickable and tag feeds just don’t exist at all (2). Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags in a post, but flags accounts that use the exact same tags too often. And on Facebook, you’re better off using fewer tags (3).

So really, where should you be using hashtags? Primarily on Instagram, in your captions, stories, and reels. On Facebook and Twitter, sprinkle them into your strategy, but no need to max out post lengths with them. 

Woman on laptop computer  at a glass desk while searching for hashtags on Instagram.

Best Practices for Hashtags?

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to developing a hashtag strategy. Here are my top three tops for hashtag best practices:

  1. Know Your Target Audience – If you don’t know where your audience is, you can’t find keywords they’ll follow! Be sure to narrow down, niche down, and know who you are reaching first and foremost.
  2. Incorporate Location Tags – Include tags that are relevant to your location. In cities, you’ll have more options here, but even in small towns, there are always some to be found! Look to local influencers, Chambers of Commerce, or popular local businesses for ideas.
  3. Rotate Your Hashtags – Don’t copy and paste your tags for every post. You can use the same few basic or branded tags on each post, but be sure to add in fresh tags relevant to the specific content, the day, your business, etc. Make sure to mix them up on each post and try not to keep them the same two posts in a row. 
  4. Add Tags to Your Bio – Use relevant tags in your Instagram bio to drive engagement to your posts. Bonus points, if you have specific campaigns or giveaways, you can change up the hashtags in your bio to promote the specific campaigns!

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