How to get the most out of social media hashtags

social media hashtags

#OMG! Your shiny new #social media planner #loves hashtags! Is that a good thing or a bad thing for your business? Here are some research-backed tips.

Social media hashtags have come of age

Among the many quandaries that circle social media, one of the trickiest for businesses is the question of whether to tag or not to tag. Fortunately, hashtags have been around long enough now that there’s scientific research to guide you.

The general rule is to use no more than two hashtags per post, regardless of the social platform. Having said that, some research has shown that it may be better to use zero hashtags on Facebook.

With hashtags, less is more

Although it’s good to work within general guidelines, keep in mind that studies about hashtagging are rife with caveats. “Your experience may vary,” is a constant refrain.

Don’t flail around in the dark or hashtag every word. The former wastes valuable character spaces (especially on Twitter) and the latter is a good way to get blocked or marked as a spammer.

In fact, some research shows that more hashtagging leads to less engagement  – and sometimes the best number of hashtags is zero, especially on Facebook. The theory is that hashtags make it harder to read social posts which causes readers to tune out your posts.

Tools for researching hashtags

Some marketers ride the “trending” lists on social platforms looking for a hot topic they can piggyback onto. Most social media experts advise against this unless the topic is relevant to your business. In other words, don’t tag #Beyonce unless you’re promoting her next tour.

Here are some tools to help you find trending topics that might fit your business:

Should you create your own hashtags?

Absolutely! Especially if you’re hosting a unique event or sale. CoSchedule’s advice for creating your own hashtags is to make it memorable, unique, and relevant to your post’s content.

How to test hashtags

The Online Marketing Institute has a guide to get you started with A/B testing on Twitter. These same techniques can used on any social platform. Here are some quick testing tips:

  • Don’t test everything at once.
  • If want to test the efficacy of four different hashtags, only test 2 at a time. Testing a lot of hashtag combinations with a bunch of copied posts is a sure way to get unfollows.
  • Don’t forget to test posts without any hashtags at all.

At Prefer, we can help you optimize your business strategy online and off – and that includes social media. Drop us a line to start a conversation with us.