Oh the glorious world of hashtags, many of us have a serious love/hate relationship with them. You can love them for their ability to link information to appeal to a larger audience, or you can hate them like people who always use bad grammar over text. But whether you love or hate them, one thing is for sure, that little ‘#,' has certainly come a long way from being nothing more than a key on a phone or typewriter. (It’s okay to Google those pieces of now ancient technology if needed.)
In today's world, when placed directly in front of a word or phrase, the hashtag becomes an identifier within a message or post. Hashtags can be used to filter, search, and analyze content. However, it seems like the rules of engagement with this little symbol are ever-changing. You may wonder how many hashtags you should use in a Twitter post? Or, how many characters is too long for a certain keyword?
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Last year, TrackMaven reviewed over 65,000 social media posts to uncover the optimal number and length that gained the most follower engagement. Interestingly, the numbers have changed slightly from 2015 findings. Or, maybe hashtags are just settling into their ideal position for each platform.
So, What Did They Find?
For Facebook, a single and short hashtag delivered the highest engagement. Twitter followers also responded more with only 1 or 2 hashtags. The interesting find was when 2 hashtags are used, a combination of one long hashtag (18 characters) coupled with one short (3 characters) hashtag performed best on Twitter. Instagram users seem to love hashtags since posts that included 9 -12 of them (9 being best), with 21 characters far outperformed. Add or remove a character or two, and the results drop off dramatically.
How do I use this?
The natural follow-up question now is how do I craft the perfect hashtag? Glad you asked! We found several useful tips when using hashtags in your social posts:
Be Specific.What fits the context of your post, personas, and keywords best? Use these as starting points to hashtags that are meaningful and not generic. Remember to add your locality when appropriate too. Have a large event you are promoting? Include the name or abbreviation of your city with a clever hashtag to link everything together.
Do Your Homework.In the same way that you would research information and material for the actual social media post, do some homework on what word or phrases will give you the most engagement. Check out RiteTag or Hashtagify for ideas and help to uncover what is trending for your topic and business. Remember to analyze the hashtags you are using as well for trends and results that resonate with your followers.
Just Start.As with most content development, you learn over time. Try it! The biggest mistake you can make is not using any hashtags at all and missing out on another avenue to drive traffic to your site.
And if you are looking to leverage a hashtag at a tradeshow or event on Twitter, check out our eBook below where we give you all the best tips and tricks!