Why, where, and how do I use #hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest?

When you're a new business owner and you haven't been using a whole bunch of social media platforms extensively for your personal life, it can be a little intimidating to start off the experiment with your fledgling business. And even after you work out the basic mechanics, there might be a few aspects that aren't crystal clear. Right now, I want to focus on these hashtag thingamabobs. Dohickeys. Whatchamacallits. Doobries. Okay, there are clearly too many good words for words you don't know.

HASHTAGS: WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

(Absolutely nothing!)

Just kidding! I get caught up in song. In reality, hashtags can be used across almost all the major social media platforms. It's how you use them across those different platforms that you have to strategize. But first, let's look at what good ol' hashtaggin' can do for your business:

+ help you create a voice for your brand and then promote it

+ grow your audience to more people with the same interests

+ get your audience interacting with your brand on a personal basis

+ keep your brand in the game with daily posts and trending hashtags

Depending on what kind of business you run, social media can be everything from your first impression to your last step of customer service. It's important to keep your branding cohesive throughout the interaction and hashtags are actually a great tool for that! Some can keep your brand on your client's mind while they go about their daily business; others help you keep your mission statement and brand voice on your mind.

So we've agreed that hashtags can be the bee's knees. Their effectiveness is reliant on how creative your creative juices are, how engaged your audience is, and how well you play the game. I wish there were hard and clear rules to the game and I could just tell you how it works, but a lot of it is experimentation and research. So what social media platforms are best for hashtags? Here's what I've discovered in my own quest for the hashtag #holygrail:


How To Use Hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

click here to download a PDF of the infographic


I do love a pretty infographic because I like pretty things, but I love information. So let's break it down now, ya'll! Sorry, more applicable song lyrics.


INSTAGRAM IS INSTA-AWESOME.

It is the mac-daddy when it comes to hashtags. Of businesses that deal directly with clients, over 34% have Instagram accounts. If your business is visual, you just hit the motherload. Post daily or post a couple of times a day, each with a different theme. Put the majority (if not all) of your hashtags at the end of your description. Check for what's popular on Instagram with #Top-Hashtags, make sure you know what is specifically hot with your audience by checking Hashtagify, and see if there are under-utilized or over-used similar hashtags on RiteTag. But use all good things in moderation. You might find that your audience responds better to quality over quantity.


TWITTER IS THE PROUD ORIGINATOR.

Yup, that's right. Twitter was the birthplace of hashtags and they've got it down to a fine science. Refer to the same tools under the Instragram section to research and develop hashtags, but on Twitter, size matters. (Ha.) The character limit should alert you to the fact that you need to be sparing with your hashtags. Feel free to use them in context (ex. I'm all about #socialmedia hashtag tips today on the blog!) or use them at the end of the tweet (ex. Today we're talking about hashtags on the blogs! #socialmedia). Or better yet, change it up a little and see which your audience prefers. Twitter seems to use hashtags quite often to define humor as well. #SMH can be anywhere from disapproving to downright hilarious. There are lots of great examples of other widely used humor hashtags, but the best are inappropriate, so I linger here no longer.


FACEBOOK IS THE HASHTAG BABY.

Facebook is the original social media (as we know it now) and there is a bias to think that it's on the cutting edge, but in reality, it's trailing in a lot of ways. Hashtags are one of those ways. If you want to use hashtags on your Facebook business account, I suggest using them for brand cohesion across the social media platforms and sparingly. That's right; when you cross-post from Instagram, go onto Facebook and take out all/most of the hashtags. Hashtags are not a replacement for conversation on Facebook and while they are becoming more popular, right now they're pretty much just a search function. Which brings me to...


PINTEREST IS THE ODD MAN OUT.

Hashtags are pretty much pointless on Pinterest, in my opinion. They really are a glorified search function over there. Hashtagging a word on Pinterest just auto-searches it and pulls that word from the image name, URL, and description of pictures to determine which are most relevant. (Hashtags don't even work when included somewhere other than a picture description.) The bottom line is that Pinterest thinks it knows what you want to see (based on popularity and search terms) and it makes sure that that's what you see. But does Pinterest know best? Yes, well...kind of. A huge glob of hashtags would break up the visual aspect that users love about Pinterest and that kind of negates your ability to reach your audience.


So I'll end with a disclaimer. "That's just, like...your opinion, man." Yup, completely! These are guidelines that I've found to be helpful and for every rule, there's a reason to break it. I encourage you to mix it up yourself. Experiment and find your own style that matches your brand. This ain't rocket science.


+ PRO-TIP:

You can always follow Pickles & Oliver on Pinterest for up-to-date tips for social media, blogging, design, branding, and small business success. I hunt down all the best advice from the pros and curate it for you in one place.

#socialmedia #howto

  I'm Sydney: a branding enthusiast, web design maven, and social media mad scientist. This blog is a design and marketing resource for creative entrepreneurs as well as a space for exploring the "behind the scenes" of my own design process and portfolio. Read more...

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