Are Your Hashtags Living Their #bestlife? Make the Most of Your Metadata

Here’s how to use hashtags to get in on conversations that matter to your audience.

Hashtags can make your association a part of an existing conversation, and they can help you launch your own conversation too. But done wrong—or not at all—they can fall flat, leaving association communication pros wondering why their work isn’t finding traction. Communication professionals at your organization no doubt know what hashtags are, but when and how to use them effectively can be tricky. They could be too long, too niche, irrelevant, or worse: unintentionally inappropriate or offensive.

So what’s the secret formula? Which hashtags will bring your posts to the fore? What’s the magic number of hashtags to use per post? There’s no standard formula, but there are a few best practices to follow and pitfalls to avoid. Consider these as you craft your own social media strategy.

The Shorter, the Better

As they say, #brevityisthesoulofwitandnottheotherwayaround. Shorter hashtags are easier to recaller and, on platforms where posting space is limited, leave you with more room to include important links and information.

“The best hashtags tend to be relatively short and easy to remember,” said Hootsuite’s Karin Olafson.

How Many Hashtags Should You Use?

There’s no magic number of hashtags to use, but quality over quantity is a general rule of thumb (more below on what makes a quality hashtag). When considering strategies for each platform, you can take advice straight from the platforms themselves: A post on Twitter’s Business blog recommends using just one to two hashtags in a post, while Instagram’s @creators account made a recent post saying three to five is the sweet spot. These targets may seem limiting, and some argue there’s room for more, but aiming closer to single digits is more beneficial than stuffing your posts with dozens of hashtags, which can come off as low effort and spammy. Plus, a few hashtags can have as much reach as 30 of them anyway.

Limiting yourself to just a few hashtags may also serve as a consistent reminder to keep your messaging focused and concise.

Look for Quality Hashtags

There are a few ways to find hashtags that will get you in front of your target audience and make an impact. You can start by seeing what other organizations in your field are saying on social media and taking note of common hashtags. Influencers in your niche are also a good source for hashtags that reach people.

There are also a number of hashtag tracking tools to take advantage of, such as, that show you what hashtags are trending in your area, related hashtags you should be aware of, and let you track influencers in your space to see what they’re saying.

“For example, if you search the popularity of #springtime, you will get results showing you this hashtag’s overall popularity, its recent popularity, and the trends for the month and week,” Olafson said.

Michael Hickey

By Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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