No matter what social platforms your small business is active on, using hashtags can easily improve the visibility of your online content. On top of this, hashtagging also helps to encourage more people to talk openly about your brand online, raises brand awareness, and can even help improve the overall reputation of your company.
But to use hashtags effectively, especially when trying to grow your brand’s online presence, you’ll need to understand more about them. In fact, if you’re just randomly plugging hashtags into your posts haphazardly, then you’re pretty much just wasting your time.
On the other hand, if you’re using the right hashtags, at the right time, you’ll be able to easily increase your posts’ reach, as well as increasing the chances of having your content go viral – potentially attracting hundreds, maybe even thousands of new customers.
So keep reading and below, we’ll go over everything you need to know about using hashtags appropriately. We’ll also discuss some of the most effective hashtag strategies for small businesses, across social media platforms.
How Can Hashtags Help Small Businesses Grow?
Essentially, hashtags make it significantly easier for internet users to find your digital content. In other words, the proper use of hashtags will help you get your content in front of the right people, while also increasing customer engagement, and attracting new customers to your brand.
Hashtags are searchable on social platforms including: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
For example, when an Instagram user searches for #Wednesday, the results will include all posts that have been hashtagged with #Wednesday.
So if your business posted an image on Instagram, and tags it with #Wednesday, anybody who searches for this hashtag is going to have the chance to see that image.
What’s more, is that some social networks, like Instagram, even let their users follow specific hashtags. By doing this, users that are following a certain hashtag will be able to see any content tagged with it directly in their newsfeed. So by using hashtags that are followed by a large number of people, you are almost guaranteed to get your brand’s content in front of a large number of people.
How Many Hashtags Should You Be Using?
Depending on where you look for the answer, you’re going to get all sorts of varying opinions on this.
While some small business marketers swear by using at least 20 or 30 (which is the maximum allowed on Instagram) on their posts, others believe that 2 to 3 highly relevant hashtags are more than enough.
With that being said, some platforms don’t have any limits as to how many hashtags you can use. So it’s safe to say that you’re not going to be penalized for using a lot of hashtags.
Either way, no matter how many hashtags you use, the most important thing to remember is that they need to be specific and relevant to the content that they’re tagging.
If not, you risk misleading people into searching for or following your content, which often leads people to believe that your content is either fake or spammy.
For example, if you’re publishing content about social media marketing, make sure that you’re using hashtags that are relevant to that industry.
Hashtag Strategies For Small Business
No matter what industry or niche you’re in, you’re going to want to use relevant hashtags that not only describe your content accurately, but are also specific to your audience. You might be thinking that you should only use the most popular hashtags to get the best results.
But that’s not necessarily true.
Obviously, it’s a good idea to use popular hashtags, but it’s even more important that you’re only using popular hashtags if they’re relevant to you, your content, and your industry. For example, you’re not going to want to be using sales-related hashtags, like #onsalenow or #bogo, if your content is about nature photography. Instead, you’d want to use hashtags like #nature, #outinnature, or #naturephotography.
Niche-ing Down on Your Niche Hashtag Strategy
Niche hashtagging refers to using hashtags that are relevant to your niche to help you carve out your own hashtag space in your respective industry. In other words, your goal here is to create catchy hashtags that will be memorable to your customers or your business contacts.
In turn, as you and your customers both use your niche hashtags more frequently, your content will gradually gain more and more attention. Let’s take a look at a simple niche hashtagging strategy you can start using today.
For example, if you ran a sneaker company, some common hashtags might be:
But to really niche down on your hashtags, you might want to try including your business name or other relevant terms to your business. So if you’re company’s name was JT’s Sneakers, you could narrow your hashtags down even more by using tags like:
To make the most of your small business’ hashtag strategy, it’s also a good idea to use a combination of both niche hashtags, as well as more general industry-related hashtags. Because your niche hashtags are very specific to your business, they’re not going to do much good in terms of helping you get traction at an industry-wide level. But by using more general hashtags as well, which are relevant to not just your business and niche, but to your entire industry as a whole, you’ll easily be able to reach a much wider audience.
So, if we use the same example of an online shoe store, a few general hashtags might be:
As you can see, these hashtags aren’t directly related to any shoe store in particular, or even buying shoes online, but they are relevant to the footwear industry. So again, for the best results, you’re going to want to always use a combination of both general and niche hashtags.
Hashtags For Facebook
Did you know that the ideal size of a post on Facebook is 80 characters or less? Studies show that posts of this length receive 66% more engagement than longer textual posts.
But 80 characters doesn’t really leave a lot of room for hashtags.
The use of hashtags isn’t actively discouraged on Facebook, but it’s not heavily promoted or discussed either. Facebook itself hasn’t updated its guide on using hashtags since 2016, but still we’ve gathered some of the best advice for hashtagging effectively on Facebook:
Hashtags For Facebook: The Basic Don’ts
The general rules of hashtags for Facebook are as follows:
- No punctuation – Ex. #Molly’sGame
- No spaces – Ex. #Go Leafs Go. Only the first “Go” will tag here.
- No pasting long hashtag clouds, like the 30 max often used on Instagram.
- No hashtagging various adjectives and nouns as they are generally unhelpful in attracting impressions or engagement – Ex. #Grateful #Hustle #WorkingHard
Hashtags For Facebook: The Basic Dos
- Include the hashtags in your sentences to avoid repeated names and terms. Ex. “Excited to be partnered with [Company Tag] for the #NHLPlayoffs!”
- Leverage hashtag holidays, events and topics of discussion such as films, television shows, and campaign names.
- Pick one hashtag that fits best. Maximum engagement comes to sole tag posts.
Hashtags For TikTok: The Popular Picks
Many of the rules outlined for hashtag usage on Facebook can also apply to TikTok. However, the platform’s algorithm does allow the inclusion of more than one hashtag, without causing a significant dip in engagement.
To start, take your business niche and find its most popular hashtags. So, for example, if you’re a social media marketer, you’d pick from hashtags like:
- #SocialMediaTips – 17.2M views
- #SocialMediaManager – 5.8M views
- #SocialMediaMarketing – 25.0M views
- #SocialMediaLife – 2.8M views
Hashtags For TikTok: The Less Popular Picks
To keep your posts from getting lost in the heavily utilized popular tags’ feeds, you want to add less competitive, but still relevant hashtags to the mix.
So again, as a social media marketer, you might pick from:
- #SocialMediaHack – 26.3K views
- #ThePowerOfSocialMedia – 48.1K views
- #SocialMediaExperts – 18.5K views
- #SocialMediaContent – 41.3K views
Remember, TikTok limits captions to 100 characters, including the hashtags, so choose wisely and alternate to see what works best.
Hashtags for Instagram: The Locals
While taking advantage of a much more generous caption size, you can apply both criteria for TikTok hashtags to your business’ Instagram content.
However, there is another important hashtag type you’ll want to include so that your target location demographic can find you with ease, known as localized hashtags.
For example, if you’re a Toronto based business, you’ll want to find and use proper hashtags for your:
- Province – #DiscoverOntario, #OntarioBusiness, #ExploreOntario, #Ontario(Niche)
- City– #TorontoBusiness, #Toronto(BusinessType), #Toronto(RoleName)
- Neighbourhood – #WestQueenWest, #Parkdale, #BloorStreet, #TheJunction
For more insights on this topic, check out our blog How to Reach Customers on Instagram When You’re a Local Business.
Hashtags for Instagram: The Relevance
One of the most important rules of hashtagging on Instagram to remember is, “Keep your hashtags relevant to your brand.”
In order to get your posts in front of as many brand-appropriate eyes as possible, always ensure that you’re using hashtags related to your content, i.e. what your target audience would be searching for when trying to find businesses like yours.
Hashtags for Instagram Stories
Stories are another fun way to use Instagram to grow your brand. These short video or image stories will be displayed on your profile, but only remain visible to your followers for 24-hours.
When preparing your business’ strategy, make sure to keep these tips in mind when creating brand-related stories on Instagram:
- Use quality video or photo content in the story you wish to hashtag. Your post may not become aggregated in the hashtag’s feed if the story is poorly made.
- Take advantage of the Location Tag function in the story options menu. This can be a regional location or the location tag of your actual business.
- Pick 2-3 hashtags maximum. You’re telling your audience a story, not giving off desperation for aggregation and discoverability. Check out this blog for a handy tip about how to hide the hashtags you put in your stories.
Hashtags For Twitter: The Simplicity
Is your business also on Twitter? Then, congratulations!
Although many people feel that Twitter is a limited social media platform, with 145 million active daily users, there’s no doubt the platform can be a powerful marketing tool for your business.
Given the 280 character limitation, hashtagging on Twitter has never been more simple, much like that of Facebook or TikTok. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Use hashtags that are most relevant to the topic of each individual tweet. Ex. If you’re a chef tweeting the day to day of your business to your fan audience, you might label what you’re talking about as #ChefLife or #RestaurantLife.
- When attending an event through your business, always include the event’s branded hashtag as well, exposing your content and presence to its curated audiences.
- Use 1-2 hashtags maximum. Engagement drops an average of 17% when using 3 or more.
- If you’re struggling to fit social handles and hashtags in the same tweet, attach a photo and use the photo-tagging feature to integrate the social handles, leaving room for your hashtags and text content.
- The photo-tagged handles will still get a notification.
Whether you’re using one social media platform or all of them for your business, it’s important to take some time to consider how best to create and use hashtags that are branded just for you.
This could come in the form of:
- The company name – Ex. #Macron
- The product name – Ex. #Ultraboosts, the shoes by Adidas.
- The slogan or tagline – Ex. #JustDoIt, the slogan by Nike.
Employing a business-branded hashtag to your social strategies not only creates consistency in your copy, but they also connect you to the online community consisting of your customers and participating audiences.
By sharing this hashtag with that community, you’re giving its members the added chance to find you, promote you while also more easily getting your attention online by adding it to their comments and captions of support or feedback.
Always monitor these branded hashtags; it’s not just important what you say about your brand, it’s equally, if not more, important what they say about your brand.
Hashtag Marketing For Your Small Business
Although hashtagging can be a powerful strategy, if you don’t understand how to use hashtags effectively or you don’t have a proper hashtag strategy in mind, all of your hashtag marketing efforts could all be for nothing.
But above all, the most important thing to remember is that your hashtags need to be relevant to both your business, your niche, as well as your industry in general.
By doing this, you’ll be making the most out of every single one of your small business’ social posts, which ensures your posts will be seen by the right people!