Eleven years ago, the very first hashtag was typed and put into the world. In the early days of Twitter, content was a bit of a free-for-all, and users wanted a way to find content relevant to them, so the hashtag was born! Twitter launched them in 2007, Instagram in 2010, and Facebook in 2013, allowing users to better find content they wanted to see and less of what they didn't (#inbound...). Fast forward to 2018 and hashtags have taken over some platforms, faded on others, and remained stagnant in others. Are they still relevant and useful? Or are they seen as being a fad? Let's dive in.
Let's start with the original hashtag promoter: Twitter. Are they still relevant on this conversational platform? Short answer: Absolutely. Long(er) answer: It depends on your content and audience.
If you're a business or brand trying to get your name out there, you know it can be difficult to be seen. Twitter algorithms are constantly changing and favoring content the user has already liked and engaged with, making it hard for you to be heard above the noise. The solution? Add a #hashtag. This allows you to jump in on a conversation as it is happening, make your voice heard, and helps you get found by those who are interested in you and what you have to say. Plus, tweets with hashtags are 12.6% more likely to be engaged with than a tweet without one. But beware, adding more than one or two hashtags to your tweet can actually cause more harm than good. Balance is key.
You may be thinking, "Sure, I get that hashtags help you find conversations and help brands, but what about keyword search? Doesn't it do the same thing?" Yes... and no. Yes, keyword searches allow you to search through tweets and filter content based on a particular topic, but hashtags take it one step further. Hashtags are how Twitter sorts content and specializes who sees what, making it more effective than a keyword search.
You are able to get away with using far more hashtags on Instagram than you are on other platforms. With the way the caption is designed, you can "hide" your hashtags to help keep your posts clean, but effective. A word of caution, you can use up to 30 hashtags on a post and 10 in a story, but with the algorithm changes, if Instagram thinks your content feels too much like spam from copying and pasting the same 30 hashtags, your content will be hidden and won't receive any engagement. So, what is the sweet spot? According to Sprout Social, 11 hashtags is the perfect amount for your post.
Last, but not least (well, maybe least..) is Facebook; the king of social media that may never die.
When it comes to the use of hashtags, Facebook is unique. Similar to Instagram and Twitter, hashtags allow Facebook users to sort content and find things they are interested in, but the audience on Facebook varies so much, that your audience may not be tech-savvy enough to understand the use of them. That being said, hashtags will never hurt you, unless you use too many or use irrelevant ones. If you keep them on-brand and easy-to-search, they will do nothing but help you (as long as you never add more than three).
So, should you use them? That depends on your audience, which just reinforces the importance of knowing your buyer personas and audience! But, if you're trying to promote a specific piece of content or an event, we recommend using hashtag.
Since #hashtags first made an appearance on social platforms, their relevance and usefulness has never been questioned (until now). Even with the doubt, hashtags have proven their worth and continue to add value to the social experience. By giving the platform the ability to filter content based on interests and trending topics, social platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have cemented themselves in their users' hearts and minds as a place they can go to be informed, entertained, or whatever it is that they are seeking.
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