Hashtags. Love them or hate them, since their introduction by Twitter in 2007 as an attempt to simplify the process of grouping relevant content from multiple authors, they have grown into a cultural device that has even been recognised by the Oxford English Dictionary.
A common question faced by clients on an almost daily basis relates to the most effective way to use the #tool as part of a brands social media presence. The past few years has seen a growth in marketing campaigns transitioning from the virtual social space to the physical, whilst retaining the iconic ‘pound’ symbol. Notable examples include the highly publicised #LoveWins Pride campaign.
The issue this presents is whether hashtags have become so commonplace within social content that their original effectiveness at highlighting particular themes within a social media post is now diminished.
It seems we are not alone in asking about the most relevant way to use the #. Research conducted by social media software providers Buffer and Hubspot both found that less really can be more when it comes to tagging your content. A few relevant and targeted hashtags perform better across the board than on posts with multiple generic hashtags. That said, having hashtags outperforms posts that don’t contain any.
A key principle to abide by is to focus on the relevance of the tags used, rather than simply increasing the number of them in the pursuit of content growth. Up to 5 hashtags on Instagram and up to 2 hashtags on Twitter is generally a good rule of thumb.
A carefully applied use of hashtags can certainly help to increase the reach of content, especially that relating to matters of topical interest of the day, however, users beware - it is by no means a way to salvage bad quality content. The age-old adage of #ContentIsKing remains as true today as it ever was, and no amount of #’s can seem to unseat it.
Ollie is one of the founding partners of Slap Group and heads up the day to day operation of the business. He’s a vocal advocate of the wider use of social media within B2B businesses and specialises in social strategy development.