How to find hashtags, how to use hashtags, what are hashtags, and everything in between.
This is a guide for how to find hashtags and how to use hashtags to grow your audience. Yes, you can make up your own. Yes you can do it to be funny or ironic. However, if you’re using hashtags to be discovered by people you don’t already know or who don’t already follow you, this approach doesn’t really serve you.
Up until 2007 I only knew of # as “pound sign.” Then one day, when I was living in England, I was given a gate code.
Maybe it was a button called hash. I don’t know, maybe it’s a British thing.
The five minutes at the gate staring for the hash button was one of the longest, most awkward feeling I’ve had in some time. I can’t remember how I got out through the gate in the end, maybe someone came over and showed me which button was hash. Sigh. Canadians, amiright!?
Fast forward and everyone knows what # means. We just don’t know how to find hashtags
OK maybe my wording isn’t quite right. We see hashtags everywhere but we don’t know which ones to use or how to use them right. I know this because I’ve been to a bazillion social media events and that question comes up every time.
And I’ve heard all sorts of answers to the question. All sorts. No wonder everyone’s so confused. When there’s a cloud at the pulpit there’s a fog in the pew kind of thing. Blind leading the blind. Oh, and what about hashtag strategy?
Perhaps you’re getting the sense we have a lot to cover here. You would be correct. This is going to be at least a four-part series. Here’s how I see it going.
- How to find hashtags
- How to use hashtags on Instagram
- How to use hashtags on Twitter
- How to create a hashtag strategy
But we could go deeper.
First, what are hashtags?
A hashtag is a word or phrase used on a social media platform preceded by a hash or pound sign (#)
That’s it. And I know if you see them around and don’t use them much you are thinking “why would I have to find hashtags? Anything’s a hashtag. #hashtag is a hashtag.
Yes. But if you’re trying to grow your audience on social media using the right hashtags in the right way can be a key strategy to growth. SO. How do you find those hashtags?
Hashtags are essential because when used properly, you gain targeted and engaged followers
How to find hashtags
OK, so yes you can make up your own hashtags, but if you’re looking for engagement or want others to discover you, then you should use hashtags other people in your target audience are using. And don’t get me wrong, you can use your own branded hashtags but that is a whole other subject. Right now let’s focus on helping people find you slash your great content by using the right hashtags.
Here are two resources to check out.
There are lots of hashtag discovery apps, but this is the one I like for finding popular hashtags around a certain word or phrase when I’m on the go. As in, I’m in the middle of posting and I need hashtags! The app is minimalist—your only option is to search for hashtags. You do this by typing in a word, pressing search, then selecting the hashtags from the list. You can copy up to 30 then paste them all at once into your post or comment on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.
When I’m more organized this is a fun site to use. You can type in words to the search bar and it displays the top hashtags using fancy charts. How fun!
When you hover over the results it also displays popularity and correlation to your original search term. This is a great way to research hashtags ahead of time.
One last comment about hashtags and yes, I’m repeating myself because I’ve heard this push back SO MANY TIMES. Yes, you can make up your own. Yes you can do it to be funny or ironic. However, if you’re using hashtags to be discovered by people you don’t already know or who don’t already follow you, this approach doesn’t really serve you. So yes, go ahead and #makeupyourown but don’t be surprised if nothing happens.
Next time, I’ll outline using hashtags for Instagram because there are a lot of rules to follow and it can be confusing! By special request I’ll also cover the Instagram shadowban, which some swear by and others swear is a hoax. Ooooh drama!