The Importance of Using #Hashtags to Drive Traffic

By: Sarah Kalvaitis

Hashtags expand your reach to beyond just your immediate followers.  By using hashtags, you can start, tap into, and engage with new conversations on social media. The more retweets, comments, likes, shares, etc. your social media posts receive, the more visibility your brand will get. Hashtags allow social media sites and users to categorize content, in addition to making your social posts more discoverable.

If you know that your target audience is on social media, you need to be there too!  However, there are literally millions of people that use social media who aren’t your target audience.  Hashtags are also a great tool to help you weed out those people and tap into your target audience’s conversations. Some hashtags are more popular than others, so it’s important that you use relevant hashtags that fit your brand image.  To figure this out, you need to do a little research to find out which hashtags are popular among the community you want to reach.  Also if you are trying to create a new hashtag for your community to engage with make sure you keep it simple and obvious because people will not use hashtags that are long or confusing.  

Another key element you need to consider with hashtags is how they are used on different social media platforms.  Here is a guide to help you with your hashtag engagement on each social platform (statistics are provided by Buffer):

Twitter

Using hashtags on Twitter can give you a significant advantage.  Individuals can see a 100% increase in engagement, while brands can see a 50% increase in engagement by using hashtags.

  • Tweets with 1-2 hashtags get twice as much engagement than those without them.
  • They also get 55% more retweets.
  • However, tweets that use more than 2 hashtags actually show a 17% drop in engagement.  

Another fun and effective way to engage in hashtags on Twitter is to participate in Twitter Chats. Twitter Chats are public Twitter conversations around one unique hashtag that allows you to follow along and participate in the discussion.  They are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people and their particular interests.

Instagram

Instagram uses hashtags to organize photos.  The more hashtags you use on a picture, the more searchable that picture becomes. Using hashtags on Instagram could be your best bet for quickly gaining a following.

  • Interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags (you can use up to 30 per post).

Facebook

It’s pretty clear that Twitter and Instagram are the dominant platforms for hashtags. So how does Facebook fit into the hashtag mix?  

  • Facebook posts without any hashtags fare better than those with a hashtag.
  • This doesn’t mean you should completely abandon hashtags on Facebook–it’s best to test them with your audience first.
  • For example, a Social Bakers study found that using hashtags should not be the main worry, but rather using too many hashtags is an issue (just like on Twitter).

Facebook is still working on making their platform more hashtag friendly: You can search specific hashtags from your search bar, you can click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram, and you can compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.

LinkedIn

Even the most professional social networks are using hashtags. A fairly new update on LinkedIn, hashtags are now tappable and lead to search results so that you can discover other posts with the same hashtag.  When you add a hashtag to your post it will automatically be available publicly and you can also search for a hashtag to see public posts tagged with it.

  • Similarly to Facebook, you do not want to overload with hashtags–1 or 2 hashtags is plenty.
  • Because hashtag functionality is still new on LinkedIn, using or not using hashtags doesn’t seem to have a significant impact either way as of right now.

Ultimately if you are using social media to reach a specific target audience then you should be using relevant hashtags to get your #best results. Who knows, you might even discover key words that have the potential of going viral that will help your brand flourish!