How to Make the Most Out of Your Hashtags

Hashtags for beginners

Okay guys, so for those of you who are super new to hashtags –let's bring it back to the basics!

What on earth is a hashtag?

Alright, if you're not really savvy with digital marketing or social media, then you probably think of a hashtag as a "term," or a "#" symbol. But in all reality, a hashtag is so much more than that. Think of it as a link –that's right, a link.

Now with these links, you can virtually direct your followers to a designated spot on social media specifically associated with the hashtag you're using. Or, you can attract potential followers by using a hashtag they would likely be searching. For example, say you want to post a picture of your delicious chocolate cake. You might want to say something like, "I'm in chocolate heaven. #nom." You see what I did there? By inserting "#nom," I am pushing that particular post into a space that is designated for tasty food. And in turn, I'm exposing my content to potential followers and customers. Make sense?

How to use a hashtag

I've found the best way to use hashtags, is to have a strategy in mind. Simply put, do your research. Don't just add hashtags into your captions all willy-nilly –put some thought into it. Ask yourself questions like, "is this hashtag overused?", "is this hashtag rarely used?" or, "is this hashtag broken? (we'll talk shadow banning another day!) so you can really make the most out of each and every one. After all, each hashtag you insert into a post is an opportunity to be seen –so use 'em wisely! (PRO TIP: you typically don't want to use more than 30 hashtags in a post –looks spammy and platforms like Instagram don't allow it).

So, once you've determined the hashtags you want to use, you can insert them after your caption (like the example above) or, integrate them into the key words of your caption (if it's a good hashtag).

After your post is published, you'll notice the hashtags you just typed or pasted in will be hyperlinked –that's great! Now, social media algorithms are put to work (read the blog!) and will push your content into ALL the designated hashtag spaces you just tagged. So, if you used 30 hashtags, that's 30 opportunities of being seen by various users exploring the feed.

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Tailwind's Instagram Hashtag Finder Tool

Determining good hashtags

You're probably thinking by now, "so, what's a good hashtag then?" Well, you know those questions I suggested you ask yourself before posting? That wasn't for no reason!

See, hashtags can be categorized into "wide tags," or "narrow tags" –and I think you should use them both! To explain, "wide tags" are hashtags that are really popular, or relatively broad. So, hashtags like "tgif", or "fashion", or "food" are really popular and broad. The good thing? Lot's of eyeballs are viewing these tags all day long. The bad thing? Since they're so popularly used, your content is very likely to be pushed to the bottom of the pile almost instantaneously. Now, there is hope. You can certainly try posting at non-peak times –or, if your post is absolutely incredible, the algorithm may keep it up longer based on how engaging it is.

So unlike "wide tags," "narrow tags" are just the opposite! These tags are typically unique...specific... original! They can be good and bad. The good? There are fewer users competing with your content and your odds of being seen in that space are significantly higher. The bad? Not as many people are exploring these tags –or might not have even heard of them! (PRO TIP: want to create your own hashtag? Click on the search tab (I use Instagram or Twitter, usually) and type in a unique hashtag to see if it's taken. If nothing pops up, it's yours –now make it popular!). Good examples of narrow tags are things like, "#rochesterny" or, "#socialmediamanagement" or, "#laptoplife." Be sure to use Tailwind to help you determine good Instagram hashtags, too (see screenshots above)! Typically, I suggest integrating both "wide" and "narrow" tags into your posts because it gives you opportunities from all different angles, big or small.

Where to use your hashtags

Now that you've learned some hashtag basics, I want to share with you 3 of my favorite platforms to use them on:

1.  Instagram – this is my absolute favorite platform to not just utilize hashtags, but just in general. Not only is it filled with inspiring photos, quotes, and funny memes, but I find that it's one of the best ways to get discovered through hashtags.

2.  Twitter – Twitter is another great way to utilize hashtags and is organized similarly to Instagram in a sense that you can search specific tags and the trending content will pop up first.

3.  Pinterest – though Pinterest acts more like a search engine, hashtags can still be placed in the description of pins, where users can click on. If a user types in the search bar a particular hashtag, the most recent pins using that hashtag will show up in the results. However, utilizing hashtags in your pins isn't required, as most people will simply search for key words –and depending on relevancy, your pins will still show up in the results.

Hashtag efficiency

I understand how time consuming it can be to research the perfect hashtags for every single post. So, what I usually like to do is have a "library" of hashtags that I've already researched that are general enough to tie in with all my content. Then, I can simply copy and paste a majority of them at the bottom of my posts and switch up maybe 5 or 6 that are super specific to that particular post.

A good rule of thumb is to mix up a handful of hashtags each time, so that you don't get flagged for being spam, a bot, etc. Or, your library of hashtags can be divided into categories like, "weekend tags," "promo tags," "inspirational tags," etc. and you can rotate those to ensure variety. (PRO TIP: I have a library of hashtag categories in the notes section of my phone for when I'm posting directly from my mobile device. I also have the same library in a Word Doc on my desktop for when I'm posting directly via my laptop. Additionally, I like to copy and paste my hashtags with 5 periods above them, so it separates them from the actual caption. This works well with Instagram, but you'll see other styles on Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

So, how do we feel? Is this hashtag thing no longer a mystery? Want a little help getting started? Then be sure to download your FREE content + graphics + hashtag suggestions!

I know when I first dove into it, it was really confusing –I felt like the whole thing was just some big guessing game. But, after playing with my strategies day in and day out, I finally got the hang of it and wanted to share my experience with you. Hopefully, you'll find that hashtags can be beneficial –if used correctly!

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