Hashtags Are Still Useful Despite Time and Advanced Search Algorithms
Whether you know it or not, there has been a debate raging in the dominion of social media for a couple of years now. This debate, which has been a divisive one, has forced influencers, companies, PR pros, and various organizations across the globe to question their content and what message they want to share with the world.
This debate, which many never saw coming, is to #hashtag or not to hashtag on your posts.
As GenZers reshape and mold the social media landscape, combined with Instagram’s changes to its search algorithm last year, hashtags appeared dated and only used by those who wanted to attract Likes and Views on their posts in hopes to gain new followers.
So, the question has become, “should we even use hashtags anymore?”
It’s a valid question based on quantitative and qualitative data, but our answer to this question is of course, yes. We should be using hashtags, albeit they need to be used wisely.
While hashtags at one point in our collective social media society (2007) were unknown factors of the social media landscape, they eventually became everyday staples on posts once Twitter began incorporating the # symbol in posts in 2009.
Hashtags like #Friday #Love #Sunrise #MondayMotivation #ICYMI #TBT began appearing on posts, linking people together with shared interests, which made it easy for others to find and jump in on conversations.
Companies and various organizations even utilized hashtags to market and promote campaigns and special events, such as #NationalDonutDay or #ShareACoke.
But then, some things changed over time and people became indifferent and put-off by hashtags. A few reasons being:
- The use of hashtags hit overkill, when too many hashtags are used in a post it can be seen as spam.
- The use of too many hashtags has also been seen in opposition to many who are looking for authenticity in their social media content, which can come across as amateurish or clickbait.
- Combined with Instagram’s updated search algorithm in 2021, which made hashtags less critical to finding relevant content, the need for hashtags began to wane.
However, this doesn’t mean hashtags are no longer important – actually, quite the opposite.
What we’ve discovered at Xenophon and in speaking with other PR professionals is that hashtags are still valuable for engagement, but how we use them in communications requires a new perspective on how hashtags, and which hashtags, should be used.
To help you more effectively incorporate hashtags in your content, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, here are a few ideas to consider when using that # sign:
- Numbers Need to be Limited: Using five or fewer hashtags will help prevent overcrowding in your post and keep it from being considered spam by platforms.
- They Must be Relevant: Use hashtags that are specific for your content or communications campaign.
- Make Sure They’re Used: There’s no point in using a hashtag that isn’t used by your followers, so it’s important to incorporate ones they use in their posts.
- Avoiding Clichés Is Important: No one likes an overused cliché, so there’s no need to include them in your social media.
Implementing these recommendations will be useful for any social media post or digital campaign, which is essential to ensuring you garner the right levels of engagement from followers.