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Using Hashtags Properly

How are you using your hashtags?

I didn’t even realize until recently that there is kind of a debate around the use of hashtags and whether or not you should even use them. What are people debating exactly?

  • Some people view them as dying off or that they’ve already died off.

  • Some are debating the proper use and if they’re even helpful for you.

So let’s talk about these views.

Should you use hashtags in your content? In my view, yes, absolutely!

Hashtags in your content are just like keywords.

Instagram even keeps hashtags in your analytics. Why would they add hashtags if they weren’t actually helping? When you look at a post you added to your page, it will show the engagement received, impressions, reach and so on.

Your engagement will also break down into types of engagement: likes, comments, shares, saves, and more so you can really understand your content vs your audience better.

But not only does your engagement break down, but so does your impressions! You received X number of impressions, but where did that number come from? Well it’ll break that down - home feed (did they see the post because they follow you?), your profile (did something bring them to your page and now they saw your other content?), the explore page (did it pop up in their personal explore page?), and HASHTAGS (did they find you because they searched one of the hashtags you used and your post popped up?).

One of the most interesting aspects of this is playing around with hashtags to see how that data changes. If you think your hashtags aren’t helping and you’re not getting many, if any, impressions because of them, it’s time to re-evaluate and adjust the ones you’re using.


So how do you know what hashtags you should be using?

I think the idea of “proper use” can be a bit confusing and might even add to why some people think hashtags don’t work.

How are you trying to use them? Are you adding them everywhere possible? Do you have a strategic approach? What platforms do you add them on? Are there platforms you leave them off of?

There is content you want them on AND content you could do better either leaving them off or just using fewer.

You can use hashtags on every social media platform and almost any piece of content. But, that doesn’t mean you should. If we’re thinking strategically, you won’t want to use them everywhere on everything. You’ll be identifying the best ways to use them and what would be the most beneficial.


So, where are hashtags the most beneficial?

Instagram is a big example. You can technically use hashtags on posted content, reels, videos, stories, and in your bio.

But again, should you?

For Instagram, you should definitely use them, however, the most beneficial ways would probably be to stick with content captions. Although stories are great too, you only get one story hashtag, so choose wisely!

The point of hashtags on Instagram is to make your content searchable. This is really the point on every channel, but if you search a specific hashtag will your content pop up?

If it’s on a story, most likely not. If it’s in your bio, it’s not really doing anything for you either. This is the similar thought process on other platforms as well. The only point of hashtags is to make your content pop up in different places and be searchable. Think of it like SEO.


Now, last but not least, let’s focus on specificity to your hashtags.

We don’t just consider the benefits of using hashtags in general on different platforms. We need to also consider WHAT ones we’re using.

Broad terms are not going to work as well simply because many general hashtags are either not being searched or they are way too over-saturated.

For example: using #science or #socialmedia won’t have much effect.

You can make simple adjustments though! Instead of #science, what would you categorize yourself as? Maybe you would be a #sciencecommunicator or #sciencewriter? A #advocateforscience? There are lots of options!

What is the content relevant to? Is it a #sciencearticle or relevant to the #sciencecommunity?

These are more simple examples, but the overall point is that if you do use hashtags, make sure they are relevant, connected, specific, and not over-saturated. Otherwise, your content can just be drowned out in all the noise.


Make sure you are continuing to research the hashtags you want to use. Research their popularity, the proper platforms, and the amount to use by platform.

And, of course, watch your analytics to see how your hashtags are performing. You can always get ideas from others you follow and the explore page as well!


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