Hashtags. We always hear about them, but do they really serve a purpose in your social media strategy? The short answer is absolutely. However, many users and businesses don’t know how to properly incorporate hashtags into their social media approach and oftentimes do so aimlessly with no direction. Much like other areas of your business, your social media strategy should be well thought out and planned, and with that comes the use of hashtags. Hashtags have been widely used on Twitter since its inception and Facebook rolled out the use of hashtags in 2015, but a big question remains about using hashtags on LinkedIn. As a business social networking platform, some think that using hashtags on the site can be viewed as “unprofessional”, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s dive in as to how effective using hashtags on LinkedIn can be for your growth.
When did hashtags become a “thing” on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn first rolled out hashtags in 2016, but it was only available on the mobile application and in 2017 they were deployed on their desktop site, however there wasn’t a lot of information on how to use them or the importance of doing so. In 2018, they “forced” users to post with hashtags in order to get data on how they were being used and how they helped kick start conversations among users on the platform. After that “beta” test, LinkedIn has fully integrated hashtags into the core of its content sharing platform and are here to stay in 2019 and beyond.
The main purpose of hashtags on LinkedIn (and almost all other social media networks) is to categorize content and make it easy for users to read posts about a certain topic or trend in their industry. By adding hashtags onto your LinkedIn (or Facebook and Twitter) posts, you’ll be more discoverable by other users on the platform and increase your organic reach. What’s really cool about this, is that you are even discoverable by people you aren’t connected to, which could open up other doors that may have been shut prior to using hashtags. At the end of the day from a marketing perspective, adding hashtags does what every marketing strategy intends to do, make your content and voice available to a bigger audience.
How Should You Use Hashtags on LinkedIn?
There are two different ways you can use hashtags on LinkedIn:
- Finding relevant hashtags to follow so you can join in on a conversation
- Adding relevant hashtags to your content so others can easily discover you
With the first approach you can search any hashtag in the search bar on LinkedIn as shown below.
After you search for a hashtag you’ll see a screen like this:
From there you can click on the hashtag #socialmedia and it will show you all the posts that have that hashtag in them. You can also follow this hashtag and see all of the hashtags you follow by clicking on “Followed Hashtags” on the left hand side of your main LinkedIn feed. This will show you a list of all the hashtags that you follow and you can click on any hashtag to see all of the posts using that hashtag.
A great way to increase visibility by following these hashtags is to comment on some of the top posts. However, don’t just post “fluff” comments on these just to do it or plug your own products. Come up with a really engaging thought that will spark a conversation among your peers and make you recognizable as a thought leader. Gary Vaynerchuk talked about this strategy and he calls it the $1.80 Strategy. Check that out if you’re interested in reading more about how you can increase your organic following for ZERO money.
The second way to utilize hashtags on LinkedIn is use relevant hashtags to your industry in your posts. For example, if you are sharing content about the best B2B marketing practices for small to medium sized businesses you could use “#B2Bmarketing” or “#SMBMarketing”. #B2BMarketing has more than 5,000 followers on LinkedIn, so just by using that hashtag on one of your posts, you have increased your potential visibility by 5,000+ users.
As you can see from this screenshot a post that was shared 19 minutes ago is appearing at the top of the page and gives me the option of following that page by clicking the “+Follow” button in the top right-hand corner of the post. So, as you can see using hashtags can greatly increase your visibility and drive organic followers to your LinkedIn business page or drive organic connections to your personal profile. Who knows? That organic follower or connection could lead to a business relationship one day because they are now seeing all of the awesome content you’re sharing on a consistent basis.
Best Tips for Utilizing Hashtags on LinkedIn (And Everywhere Else)
1. DO NOT use too many hashtags in one post
This is a big mistake that we see some people make. From a theoretical standpoint it makes sense. The more hashtags you put into a post the more people it will reach. However, when a user comes across a post with 10 or more hashtags, it’s off putting and could cause them to not even read your posts, so really you’ve actually hurt yourself by including too many hashtags because you’ve turned away a potential follower or connection.
As a good rule of thumb, never include more than three hashtags in your posts and make sure all of the hashtags you’re using are congruent. You don’t want to have a post like this:
2. Format Hashtags Correctly
You’ll see a lot of users share a hashtag with all lower cases as you can see above. However, we recommend formatting your hashtags in a grammatically correct fashion. So, instead of using #socialmediamarketing, try #SocialMediaMarketing instead. It’s just one more way you can stand out from the crowd!
3. Place Your Hashtags in a Sensible Manner
Another good tip for you to follow when deciding to place your hashtags is to do them in a sensible manner. Oftentimes, it’s okay to incorporate hashtags in the middle of your sentences, but it shouldn’t look like this:
Using a hashtag every other word or sparsed throughout your post copy like this looks sloppy and can really take away from your overall message. As best practice, try only using one hashtag (or none) in your sentences, then place the rest of your hashtags at the end of your post. It has the same effect and looks less sloppy.
4. Test Different Hashtags
Like other forms of marketing and even your social media strategy, you’ve probably tested numerous different approaches and the same should hold true with the hashtags you’re using. You can try different variations of a hashtag or go with a new one completely on your next round of posts.
Eventually, you’ll find hashtags that resonate with your audience, as well as drive engagement to your posts.
Tying It All Together
While the majority of these tips and ideas pertain to LinkedIn, they can be widely used across other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. LinkedIn recently rolled out hashtags on their platform and they are here to stay, so if you haven’t already hopped on board, then you should. The ability to follow hashtags and utilize them in your posts to increase your visibility could make a major shift in your social media marketing strategy.
What’s great about using hashtags is that you can incorporate these into your Emphatic strategy as well by telling us what hashtags you want to use in Question 10 of your Tune Content Strategy and dropping a note to our writers in Question 1 or 2 to let them know to incorporate your hashtags in some or all of your posts!