Hashtags have always seemed a bit of an anomaly for me, until I made the effort to find out how to socially use hashtags for reach purposes. Now that I have, it all makes sense.
Hashtags are like highlighting relevant keywords from your content, or your comments. They instantly become hyperlinks, drawing attention to themselves, not only for other readers, but to the algorithms as well. Treat them as little beacons signalling out your content to others!
Hashtags are composed of #onewordonly – combining words within a short phase together – so there are no spaces, no numbers and no special characters. They can be inserted into your social media profile as well as within your content or comments.
This infographic shows you what I mean by socially using hashtags for reach:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Taking advantage of organic reach
I've seen hashtags on most social media outlets. These are designed to accentuate the most important words within your content. Hashtags emphasise certain keywords you wish the algorithms governing reach to notice, and therefore deliver your content accordingly.
These keywords can be both primary and secondary. Similar to writing blog posts with SEO, these can, and perhaps should, be strategically placed for robot attention. However, a lot of people liberally sprinkle them in a group at the end of their submission (myself included!).
The idea of organic reach is to encompass a wider audience without resorting to paid adverts. You are relying on your hashtags resonating with the algorithm stimulated by your content, and it calculating the most appropriate admirers for your contribution.
Finding your relevant audience
Relevant is the key word here. Using hashtags for reach will work much better if you have a good idea who you want reading your social content. As well as being designed to be hooks for the algorithms, they also get noticed by readers.
You could think of hashtags as categorising your messages, placing them into neat little folders for the mathematical bots to latch onto and put onto the relevant reach conveyor-belt. If they understand you correctly, they will place your content hopefully in front of the right people.
Therefore finding the most appropriate hashtags for reach purposes, which resonate with your desired readership, will give the algorithms a helping hand at making a correct decision.
Getting more views, shares and engagement
Go onto social media, and it seems that almost every social conversation includes hashtags for reach purposes. These vary from being topic focused, brand centred, riding on trends or simply to raise awareness for certain issues or causes.
However, social content which fails to use hashtags has a hard time cutting through the general noise. It is very easily passed by if there are no hashtags to catch the skim-reader's eye. Using hashtags for reach seems to make social content more attractive for humans as well as algorithms.
Try using more sophisticated hashtags rather than generic ones. This is because content with over-popular hashtags could easily get drowned in the media sea, whereas a specific hashtag using more focused keyphrases has more of a success rate in captivating an ideal audience.
Using hashtags as a method of search
Tags in blogging have two functions: they highlight the secondary keywords of your posts, and perform a vital part in the blog's search mechanism. Many people fail to use tags properly, especially since some blogging systems present them wrongly.
I've already mentioned hashtags as highlighting secondary keywords, but they can also be used for assisting search. Clicking on a hashtag should take you to where all the social content which use it are listed. Here you can see which subjects it is associated with, and how it is used.
I like to use hashtags in this way on TweetDeck, creating streams associated with particular hashtags for reach purposes. Now I can view who is using it, whether it is used correctly, does its use reflect my strategy and whether I can glean more information from the other users.
Find out what others are saying
Using hashtags for reach can be quite useful if you are doing social listening. This is when you find the social forums and groups where your ideal customers are, and listen by reading and watching what they say about you, your brand or your business.
This can also be used to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Find out whether the users of these products prefer them to yours, if they have any dissatisfaction, suggestions for improvement or wish-lists for future products.
Hashtags can also be used to encourage your loyal customers to create some UGC (user generated content) for you. Ask them to use your chosen hashtag whenever they post about your brand, so you can easily track what they say, and others can find them and join in as well.
Alert people you are replying to them
Another way to use hashtags for reach is to insert them into your comments. This attracts the other readers and algorithms to what you have said, and if you are canny, you could tag in other people you know who would be interested in the social post so they can have their say.
Whenever you reply within a TwitterChat, for example, it is necessary to include the hashtag associated with that conversation, so that other people who have set up a stream for that hashtag can see you have answered. Otherwise your contribution will get lost and nobody will be able to read it.
Some social platforms, such as LinkedIn, suggest which hashtags you could use within both your content and your comments. Have a look further than what they offer, as sometimes the alternatives could be more suitable for who you are trying to attract, especially in a longer format.
Jump on the trending wave
If you are exploring content on a social platform, such as Tiktok, it's a good idea to check out what hashtags other people are using when they create their contributions. You could then use these with your own videos, or find other influencers to follow.
Journalists on Twitter use the hashtag #journorequest (or #HARO if you're in the US) to get information for their articles. If you want to get more publicity for your business, doing some social stalking of these journalists to find out what they want, and replying promptly could get you a desirable mention.
Mixing popular hashtags with niche versions will help hone in on your preferred audience, especially if you've chosen to respond to a trend on social media or in the press. This will give you a very large reach within a short time, so be careful what you say and be prepared for any responses.
Avoid using hashtags badly
Some people tend to get over enthusiastic about using hashtags for reach, and pepper them all over their content. This overkill can be seen as detrimental and you could get a 'shadow ban'. In fact tweets with more than two hashtags can reduce their engagement by 17%.
This is a case of less is more. It's the same with using keywords when SEO-ing your blog posts. Too much and the algorithms smell a rat and will penalise you. Whereas strategically placing keywords where they are relevant to enhance the content will result in dividends.
It is always necessary to tailor your content to fit any activities you do socially. And this includes which hashtags to use. Be mindful of what your audience is looking for, and if there is a precise hashtag which fits, use it!
Are you already using hashtags for reach?
A clever tip is to include a relevant hashtag in the call to action within your social posts. This will help highlight it for both people and algorithms, and compel them to offer their own experiences or stories to enhance what you have said.
Using hashtags for reach is about collaborating with your audience, offering something valuable and useful which they could easily implement to improve their lives. As a result they will be suitably impressed enough to want to find out more about you.
Take advantage of strategically placed relevant hashtags to draw the right kind of attention to you. However, this will work much better within superbly written content designed to expose your expertise or improve your reputation within the social world.
Let me know in the comments below what you think about this post. And if you have any other suggestions about what to do with hashtags for reach, we would love to hear from you!