A hashtag is a keyword or short sentence that you should write without space with the sign (#) at the beginning. They gather public conversation of different social media users into one single stream. Created in 2000, Hashtags have since spread like wildfire across the Internet. They are so famous in the tech culture today that it is indeed rare to encounter anyone not knowing what they are. Hashtags have become so popular that Oxford dictionary added it in 2010. But knowing what hashtags are, does not mean you know how to properly use them.
The hashtag is maybe one of most popular ways to categorize social media. It works like an index and gather all the data from any social media post and message. It connects and engages social media users around thematic conversation, making your content visible to your targeted audience. And as e-commerce owner, it can be the direct key to a better visibility on social media. If you use them well, hashtags will boost your visibility and will then increase sales on your e-commerce.
This little but iconic symbol exists on the majority of social media and its use may vary depending on which one you decide to operate. You will not use the hashtags the same way on Facebook than you will on Instagram for example. It is not always easy to understand the small differences that lies into the best practices for each social networks though. Because knowing how to use hashtags is crucial for your e-commerce success on social media, we will try to clarify the different hashtag uses and unveil the 9 most common mistakes to absolutely avoid.
#1- Replacing quality content by hashtags
A hashtag will never replace some quality content. You should add it to the end of the post, in order to classify the subject you are talking about but not as content itself. Hashtags should only be there to outline your content. Make sure the content you are sharing is the best possible so that you can make the right impression.
To give power to your hashtags, try illustrating them with images, it will boost the number of views. Social media displays a lot of content to users. They have access to so many posts that they might just scroll down without noticing your message. Long texts are usually not very appealing but on the contrary , illustrated content will catch their eyes. People are more likely to share such content which will create engagement from your community.
#2- Putting hashtags on every single word
Study shows tweets with hashtags will have their engagement rate twice as much than without. But don’t make it too long or too complex, because you want users to naturally search for your tag. Too many hashtags will make your post harder to read. If #Italk #like #that, #mycommunity won’t #takethetime #toreadme. Don’t try to use coded messages, nobody will bother to decode what you have to say.
To avoid too many hashtags, try gathering all of them at the end of your post. It will facilitate reading and make your content more clear.
#3- Abusing of hashtag trends
Theoretically, it could make sense for you to use the most used hashtags of the moment, but in the long run it is not a good idea. You can check which hashtags are trending at the moment and use them to your advantage if they are relevant to your business. They are the subjects people are the most interested in and give you better visibility. But, if your content has nothing to do with this trendy topic, you don’t want to impose your e-commerce presence, users would consider it as inopportune.
For sure, hashtags like #happy or #fashion count thousands of posts. But they come out to be too generic and useless for your business in the end. Because the audience is not targeted enough, the likes you will get won’t come from people really interested in what you sell.
What you could do instead is use hashtags that would highlight and target your content! If social media users agree with your opinion, they will follow you easily. You don’t need to cheat. You can however make a good use of hashtag trends whenever a big sports or artistic live event takes place and use that opportunity to express yourself on the subject.
#4- Using other companies hashtags campaigns
Some companies are proud of the hashtags they use for their communication campaigns. For example, KitKat brand used hashtags #mybreak to propagate its message. This hashtag use is clever enough because it is close to their advertising slogan: “have a break, have a Kit Kat.” This hashtag make the brand easy to identify, but still adding value.
Just like KitKat and many more brands, don’t hesitate to be creative. Launch your own hashtags to conduct your communication campaign. Choose one that is not already used and don’t forget to remind everyone of your users to use it in their related publication. Also think about presenting your hashtags in each one of your promotional material. You can also change your social media settings so that you receive notification whenever someone uses your hashtags.
Powerful ones must be:
- Informative but short
- Relevant with the topic
In order to be efficient in your e-marketing campaign, we advise you don’t use expression that would be too vague. Otherwise it would be difficult to stand out from the rest of the world. To reach high engagement rate, you will need to target your audience more, which you can do if your hashtags are specific. When creating your own hashtag, don’t put your brand or e-commerce’s name in it, but think about something that would well represent it or what you stand for.
Keep an eye on hashtags so you will always know what trends exist around your e-commerce market. Analyze your competitor’s strategy and try to identify influencers to take a look at what your consumers are reading.
#5-Using wrong hashtags
More than just classifying your tweets, hashtags will help you define your voice when jumping into a larger conversation. If you want to communicate about an event in particular don’t try to guess! Each event or specific action possess its own official hashtags, so try to find it. If you attempt to talk to someone or participate in a debate on a particular topic, you need to use the hashtag that better suit the situation.
Double check the hashtags you create as it is possible that a double meaning would lie under the one you’ve created. You can test it before it goes public, a little research can save you a lot of trouble in the end. Search online with your hashtag and see what content it refers to. You can also use specific hashtag research tools like:
- Ritetag: Gathers for you the most popular hashtags on Twitter. You can use it to review your the statistics of your keywords as well.
- Hashtags.org: Discover new hashtags related to your that you might have missed out.
- Tagboard: Shows what kind of content is shared with the hashtag you choose.
- Tagsforlikes.com: Allows you to sort out Instagram’s most popular hashtags by their topics.
#6-Not adapting hashtag use depending on the social media
Hashtags can have an important role to help increase the organic reach of your post, but if you want to get their maximum power, you will need to follow the best practices, depending on the network. Each one of them has implicit rules concerning its hashtag use. When it comes to determining the number of hashtags you should include on a single publication, it differs depending on the social network you are targeting. Today the majority of social networks support hashtags, these include:
Twitter is the birthplace of today’s hashtag use and is the place where they are used the most. Like we said previously, tweets with hashtags will get twice as much engagement than those without. It is commonly settled that the optimal number of hashtags for a tweet is 2. Research from TrackMaven details this statement a little bit more though. Only 1 hashtag in your tweet will get you the most engagement rate, with an average of 90 interactions per tweet. Interestingly enough, using too many (more than 2 actually) hashtags in your post induce a significant drop of users engagement by 17%.
Keep in mind that only 25% of tweets are retweeted and 40% of those retweets contain hashtags.
For Instagram, hashtag use is also very important to its eco-system but the user interface is simpler than those on Twitter. Instagram’s hashtags are for completing photos you share. You can add up to 30 different hashtags per post and unlike Twitter, the more the better. Posts with a number of 11 hashtags are the ones with the best interaction rate.
Nothing surprising here because it is the most visual of every social media and categorization by point of interest is important. Some hashtags were conceived specially for Instagram challenges. You can use this strategy as well.
Hashtags are not that popular on Facebook though. Post without hashtags have show better statistics. You don’t need to use them, as the impact on your post will be close to zero.
#7. Waiting for your visibility to grow by itself
Your company hashtags now exist and you wait for people to share it. Bad idea! If you want hashtag use to be effective you will need to get involve in the communication process.
Try generating buzz around your hashtag. To do so, why not organizing a raffle, a contest or even some kind of promotion. Any social media user would be pleased to share your content and spread your brand visibility as they wish to win some prize. A great example of efficient hashtag use is Domino’s Pizza U.K.’s #letsdolunch, where a special pizza price were cut by 1 pence during the 2-hour promotion every time someone would tweet their hashtags.
Check your settings
Also, beware of your privacy settings. It may sound basic to some of you, but you need to make sure the content you share (including your hashtags) are in public mode. Otherwise, only authorized people will see them.
Don’t forget to go local
Local hashtags can be very useful as well. Broader is not always the better. Your hashtag use will be efficient if audience is targeted. But you don’t need to think too big. If you are present on a worldwide level, this is a good thing of course, but don’t miss out on local opportunities. Especially if you own a brick-and-mortar store or if you need to visibility in a precise area. The community matters and it is a great way to build relationships and gain exposure within the one you’re trying to reach.
#8. Not monitoring your hashtag use
Creating your own hashtags is great. But you will miss enormous growth potential if you don’t monitor their reach. For your social media marketing development it is important that you analyze and measure figures of each specific campaign (like a contest). This way you will be able to see if it was a success, or not.
To measure the growth of your campaign and verify that you have a correct hashtag use for your e-commerce, you should become familiar with regular hashtag tracking. It can be as simple as writing down the number of posts a certain hashtag has, or you can use special tools to help you measure efficiency and more. If you want to track your hashtags results for Twitter you can use any specific tools, but you can also use Twitter’s analytics dashboard. Twitter monitors everything a user do on a Tweet (follows, retweets, replies,etc.)
Metrics you should keep an eye on:
- Who are my followers following?
- What are their interest?
- Where are they located?
- What kind of post gets the better effect?
- I am being liked or retweeted?
- What time of the day / What day of the week will see a better engagement rate, number of clicks and retweet?
- What are my Tweet reach percentage? (Which you can calculate by dividing the number of impressions by the number of my total followers)
#9. Not using hashtags at all
Even if you are not familiar with hashtag use in e-marketing or if you estimate you don’t have time, don’t miss out on this opportunity! There are plenty of e-commerce out there, and yours need to be visible to your target. Organic engagement is difficult to get and you can’t afford to skip the social media use as they allow you to build a loyal community around your e-commerce.
If used correctly, hashtags are great tools for your e-commerce visibility. It might take time for you to get used to it though, it will worth every efforts you decide to put in.