Why hashtags are even more important today – get on it

We had some great news recently – well I thought so. LinkedIn is now officially integrating hashtags into the platform – hallelujah! I’ve been predicting this for a long time, which is why I’ve always used them on LinkedIn, even if it wasn’t the done thing. But I don’t care.

I’m not a follower and I know hashtags go deep into the internet, beyond the platform I’m using and to boost SEO. I’m definitely not a techy, but I know this to be true.

So my friends, time to get on the hashtag bandwagon and use them in all social media outreach, across all platforms, including LinkedIn. Here is the article where LinkedIn announced hashtags.

But why are Hashtags important?

Today, hashtags are relevant on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and now, LinkedIn and SlideShare. Hashtags link you to everyone else using that hashtag and it is how you join a global conversation on your topic of expertise. It’s how you draw people to you and how you elevate your brand to get heard beyond your immediate community.

When you are seeking to build a bigger profile, hashtags are critical. When you are not using hashtags, you are basically invisible to anyone who is not connected to you or doesn’t know you.

Naturally, many people think hashtags are something only teenagers use, or are only linked to significant events. A recent example was the 3rd US debate, which featured #debatenight and if you clicked on this hashtag, you could track every comment and monitor the conversation. As Twitter is public (e.g. you can be completely private on Facebook, but not Twitter), hashtags have always been very powerful, because you can find and engage with other people who are active in the conversation you’re interested in.

Another social example a few years ago in Australia was #Illwalkwithyou. This took off after a terrorist incident and people pledged to walk with, and protect, fellow Australians – who happened to be Muslim – from prejudice and attack. This was my favourite social example of a collective voice, and I’m pleased to see this hashtag picked up in countries around the world, most recently in the US.

Hashtags are relevant to global and topical conversations (or #moments), but they are also relevant to:

  • Industries (#FSI #Healthcare #government)
  • Job titles (#CEO #CMO #CIO)
  • Core topics of expertise (#cybersecurity #contentmarketing #advertising)

For the core topics, if you want to be known as an expert in your field, using hashtags relevant to your topic is critical, especially if you want to grow your profile beyond your immediate community.

And while you can search social platforms for hashtags to track conversations, you can also use hashtags on search engines. So it goes well beyond social media and we often see hashtags used offline – think of the latest billboard or bus advertising you’ve seen without a hashtag? Please, do not underestimate the importance of hashtags.

If you consistently use hashtags, overtime your content builds in the backend of search engines, and that is how you build your digital profile as an expert in your area – it’s core to your SEO. For businesses, if you develop consistent hashtags for employees, customers, and others to use, it provides the opportunity to measure results more effectively.

Hashtags empower you to be present in global conversations and they allow people to find you. When you are found, they can engage with you, follow you or track you, opening up the opportunity to become someone of value to them over time.

If you have a strong personal brand, you want people to find you when searching social media or the Web. See below an example on Twitter. This is an example of being added to Twitter lists based on the Tweets sent out in a day and all are aligned to the hashtags used. Being added to lists can be automated, or done manually, and it increases your profile on Twitter. If you are a Twitter user and consistently using hashtags, you should be added to lists in your area of expertise every day. Hashtags are the trick.

What are Twitter lists?

A search on LinkedIn for any keyword uncovers people, companies, content, jobs and more. See below an example searching for block chain. To the left, you can further refine the search.

Should I use hashtags on LinkedIn?

Some additional articles on hashtags for reference, some of which contradict my views, but I offer mine as a user, not a techy

Why Hashtags Are Important and How To Use Them More Effectively

The Role of #Hashtags in Social Media and Search

Importance of Hashtags in Social Media (SlideShare)

How many should you use?

This is a contentious issue and research is never consistent, but between 1-3 are recommended, except for Instagram, where up to six is recommended, although users definitely have many more hashtags than this.

The hardest part is to get into the habit of using hashtags every time you post and anywhere you post. My habit is to use three hashtags in all social media engagement, and if you’ve been connected with me for a while, you’ll know I’ve been consistent, even on LinkedIn, when it wasn’t officially part of the platform. I just know the power of hashtags goes well beyond any social media channel you use.

I’ve definitely experienced how powerful they are and I know that my use of hashtags has enabled me to become part of the global discussion in my areas of expertise. I’m committed. You need to decide if you are committed too?

But it’s not relevant for Facebook right?

On Facebook, I use hashtags on my professional pages and sometimes on my personal Facebook page – if I think it’s relevant. My personal Facebook page isn’t private (I want to grow my profile), so using hashtags is relevant for me. If you are 100% private on Facebook, it’s pointless. However, if you want to grow your reach and influence, impact the success of a cause, join a discussion, etc… then hashtags are what you need.

I can’t emphasize this enough. If you want to build a profile in any area of expertise, hashtags should be a critical strategy for being heard outside of your direct community. If this isn’t something you want to do – be known beyond your current tribe – then you don’t need to consistently use hashtags.

Integrate businesses, publications and people into social media outreach

As well as hashtags to draw people and businesses to you, integrate businesses, publications, communities and people too. Social media is all about engaging in conversation and to do that, you draw people and businesses to you.

For example, if you’re sharing an article from Fortune Magazine, use @Fortune to find the publication and copy it into your post. You can do this if Fortune has a page or profile on the site – whether it’s LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter or others.

If Fortune isn’t on the platform, it won’t come up as an option to tag.

Another example. If your friend publishes a great blog post and you share it, use the @ again and start writing their name. It will bring them up as an option to tag in your post. This gives them the opportunity to engage with you, or at least thank you for sharing their post.

Here’s an example of including Fortune Magazine in a LinkedIn post. You can do this for Facebook, Google+ and others.

Why are hashtags important?

Of course, when tagging people, you can do it with famous people or CEOs of global companies, but is that good for you? Tagging Meg Whitman might feel cool, but are you going to annoy a very busy woman?

What hashtags should I use?

It’s great to have a core hashtag for your area of expertise. However, you might have more than one. For me I use #contentmarketing the most, but equally, #personalbranding #socialCEO #employeeadvocacy #socialmedia #CMO and #marketing. Some are quite generic, but my presence in my core fields has been consistent and I am known.

  • I recommend always using one hashtag consistently if you work for a company. If you work for IBM use #IBM and two other hashtags
  • If you want to be a thought leader in a sector, use common hashtags for the sector – #FSI #Insurance #biotech #healthcare #aerospace
  • If you’re in a specific role like marketing use the hashtags most relevant – #marketing #digitalmarketing #CX #BigData #analytics #socialmedia #advertising #branding
  • If you’re targeting a specific role, like a CIO, common hashtags include – #CIO #ITDirector #cloud #hybridcloud #BigData #AI #cognitivecomputing #storage #IoT #collaboration #productivity #futureofwork
  • If you’re in a field like wellness or mindfulness – #wellness #wholenessatwork #mindfulness #mindfulnessinbusiness #selfleadership #NLP #meditation

Don’t know what your hashtags should be? The easiest way to find out is to go onto Twitter and find the top people in your field. What hashtags are they commonly using? More importantly, what hashtags are the big names in your field using?

An example of a big name in my field is Jeff Bullas. He uses #marketing #blogging #digitalmarketing #socialmedia #events #digital #bloggingtips #wordpress. If he uses them – as he’s the top social media expert in the world – I reckon they’d be good for me to use too. Who is your Jeff Bullas?

Remember no one owns hashtags and the possibilities are really endless. Heck, you don’t need to use one that already exists – you can start a trend. But using well established hashtags in your field is a good way to elevate yourself in your field. That’s why hashtags are important.

Get in the game

There is a lot of contradictory information out there about hashtags and there is a lot of confusion. From my personal experience, it is central to my social media strategy as I build my role as an influencer in influencing others to become influencers (try saying that after a few wines.)

To achieve my goals, I must build my influence beyond my immediate community and hashtags have been critical in helping me achieve that. I know it. I’ve lived it. I’ve gained the results. It works.

Now that hashtags are a part of the LinkedIn platform, the opportunity is even greater to start including them in your personal branding strategy. Unless you have no interest in building your profile, then as you were.

What do you think? Are you using hashtags? Think it’s only relevant to teenagers #whatthehellarethekidsdoingthesedays? Or is it a miss you know you need to get on top of? Let me know in the comments. Always happy to hear other views.

Cheers

Andrea

Hashtag illustration courtesy of Shutterstock

Thank you so much for reading my blog. I really appreciate it. If you like this, I’d love a comment, or please share your favorite hashtag of all time? Of course, also feel free to share with your communities, because that’s what this is all about today – sharing and giving to each other. If you like my style and what I talk about, feel free to follow me on LinkedInTwitter or on Facebook.

You can follow The Digital Conversationalist on LinkedIn here. The event/workshop showcase page is here, and this is our Facebook group, where we encourage conversation.

  5 comments for “Why hashtags are even more important today – get on it

  1. David Noble
    October 24, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Andrea,

    Great sense & advice, as always. A couple of questions:

    Twitter has a habit of misinterpreting hashtags eg I have a column on TweetDeck #IIAR, but I often see tweets which are really #LIAR or #lIAR. Why can’t they distinguish between an uppercase I and a lowercase L? Is this a Twitter or TweetDeck problem? (You can understand that this has been a big issue in the current US political environment…)

    Some folks “overload” their tweets with hashtags. I like to see some context in my stream, so I tend to glaze over. Some tweets consist of nothing but hashtags…What’s your advice on balance between hashtags and useful information?

    Pics vs no pics. I tend to respond more to tweets with pics attached, as I do on Facebook, but what’s the balance? Can you overdo/underdo images?

    cheers & keep up the good work,

    Dave

    Like

    • October 27, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Hey Dave, great to hear from you and as always, thank you for being a great supporter. Your challenge on the misinterpreting front is definitely a challenge, and I’m not sure if it’s Tweetdeck or Twitter. All I know is when researching results on Twitter, whether it’s caps or not doesn’t make a difference. So #IIAR and #iiar would both be found and measured equally. Is it worth testing it in lowercase to see if it makes a difference? Or reach out to Twitter and see if they can explain? I haven’t faced this, but can see how your common hashtag could create that problem. The use of hashtags is another issue. My advice is to only put them on the end of Tweets (and all social media) and not in the sentence you’re writing. It makes it harder to read when you do that, but not enough people are thinking from that point of view. I actually think hashtags on Twitter are more important than the content you write, but it doesn’t mean your text should be impossible to read! That’s why I say three hashtags and then if the body of the text is too long, use less hashtags. And the pics Vs no pics is a goodie. Twitter started including the drop down images from links a few months back, so most Tweets are more visual these days anyway. But pics are always good. Some stats I quote are images create 104% more comments, 84% better click through rate, and 54% more likes. So definitely a good strategy if you want to succeed. I prefer the drop down images, as it’s easier to manage, but include images on my key content, if I think it’s good enough to get attention. I hope that helps Dave? You’re doing great on social. Who says us oldies can’t be digital natives! xxxxxxx

      Like

  2. October 27, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Yeah, I totally agree with this one. Great job!

    **

    Xavier Tan | Social Media Marketing Expert at http://www.canny.com.sg

    Like

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