Hashtags Not Working?

How To Find Hashtags That Bring Customers To You

What’s the purpose of hashtags? #NotATrickQuestion Long (long long long) ago they were for snarky asides but now they are almost exclusively for discoverability #TotallyNotOld

Discoverability is super important for online businesses.

Done right hashtag strategy helps people to find you and see what you do. And in a natural, organic, and free way.

There are three main social media channels that use hashtags today and they each use them slightly differently. So we will talk about each one so you can fully utilize the best hashtag strategy for be found on each of these platforms.

On TikTok

Hashtags are used for classifying your videos. They tell the computer what your video is about and who to show it to.

On Instagram

Hashtags are sort of like channels on a TV. You can click around to find a topic you are interested in and see all the content marketed with that hashtag.

On Twitter

Hashtags are used to link conversations. Since tweets are so short hashtags are a way to build a larger and ongoing discussion around a topic.

While both Facebook and Pinterest experimented with using hashtags, both have now dropped them. When you post on Facebook with hashtags it ends up looking lazy and slapdash (#ToldYouImNotOld) because they aren’t used on that platform it makes it seem like you just copied your Instagram post to Facebook. That makes your audience on Facebook feel neglected. On Pinterest they are simply a waste of valuable real estate in your pin descriptions.

Twitter Hashtag Strategy

On Twitter your hashtags cut into the space you have for your words so you have to find the balance between your message and your hashtags.

Don’t stuff your content with hashtags. Pick two to three really appropriate ones that match your content. On Twitter each hashtag is a small knot of people chatting at a cocktail party.

On Twitter each hashtag is a small knot of people chatting at a cocktail party @ChoateMarketing #HashtagStrategy

Before you jump in and just start talking, listen for a few moments. Click the hashtag and see what recent posts are. This is the conversation that you are joining.

You don’t have to do this every time but it’s going to make your hashtag strategy far more effective on Twitter.

TikTok Hashtag Strategy

TikTok also limits the character count of the caption tightly and your hashtags needs to fit in that space. The caption also overlaps with your video so it can distract from the main point.

Since TikTok uses hashtags as one indicator of what your video is about and who will most enjoy it it’s very important to choose relevant hashtags that match your content. Those first few people who see your post need to love it or it will die there.

Unless your caption adds a layer of entertainment or relevant information consider just putting a few hashtags without any text. Again, do not use general hashtags like #fyp. Use only hashtags that are relevant o your content. If you use a trending hashtag, make sure your content fits in some way with the trend. If people who see your video are disappointed TikTok will stop showing it to new people.

Instagram Hashtag Strategy

If you look at your insights on Instagram chances are you’ll find that more than 50% of each individual post’s impressions come from hashtags. (There used to be a trick to seeing WHICH hashtags but IG changed things and closed that loophole, unfortunately).

On Instagram hashtags are a huge deal and there’s plenty to consider when making a hashtag strategy there.

How Many Hashtags Should I Use On Instagram?

There’s an interesting debate (well interesting if you’re a social media strategist, I guess) about whether you should use all thirty hashtags allowed on your posts.

Initially I didn’t see any reason not to use all thirty. More hashtags means more opportunity to be discovered and that’s what hashtags are for. However, several Instagram experts I follow have noticed the “sweet spot” for them was more like 10 – 12 hashtags per post. Finally one suggested a theory that if your hashtags are not all well aligned to the same topic it can confuse the algorithm.

If that is true then having 30 hashtags isn’t bad per se but it is challenging to put together a list of 30 that all align to the same theme. Personally I’m feeling relieved that I don’t need to find 30 hashtags for every post! I now use 10 – 15 highly relevant hashtags on my posts.

What Does Hashtag Size Mean?

A hashtag size is how many times it is used. When you start to type a hashtag you’ll see the size too:

When choosing your hashtags you’ll want a mixture of sizes but none too small or too large. When you use a hashtag that has two billion uses your content will disappear so quickly that it won’t have a chance to be discovered.

the most recent feed of one hashtag on instagram
This is the “most recent” section and it refreshes quickly when millions of posts are being created with that hashtag

On the other hand if the hashtag is only used 100 times pretty much no one is searching for it or finding it.

For each post you should aim to use a variety of sizes from niche/highly targeted ones in your field that have 2,000 to 8,000 uses or so to larger ones that are still relevant. The size of your following will also impact how large to go with the hashtag size. As your account grows you can use larger and larger hashtags successfully. If you’re just starting out keep to hashtags that are under 150,000.

Can I Use The Same Hashtags On Every Instagram Post?

In short…no. Gathering 30 hashtags and then copying and pasting them onto every post is an indicator to Instagram that you are a spammer. Your content won’t show up as much and it could harm your account in other ways.

This is what “hashtag banks” are for.

You’ll want to research and gather sets of hashtags with a mix of niche and medium size hashtags around similar themes (your content pillars if you have them). Save those sets somewhere like a Google Sheet and mix it up when you post, copying different groups depending on the content.

Final Bonus Hashtag Tip

Remember (as with everything marketing related) you want to think through your hashtags in terms of which ones your ideal clients will be following and reading.

Be careful not to reach your competitors instead by using hashtags focused on you rather than on what your clients want and need from you.

Tell me: will you be changing anything in your hashtag strategy?

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