By: Brendan Fitzpatrick
Hash-tagging is an old concept that has recently taken off big time. The origins of hashtag’s go back to the days of Internet Relay Chat (IRC). In the early days of the Internet there were some very smart Geeks that had a lot to say but didn’t know how to say it. Born was the concept of Hashtag’s.
Some of you might be wondering what a hashtag is. Simply defined, it is a short form descriptive way to capture a mood or emotion. Very similar to emoticons (graphical descriptions), hashtags are the textual form of a mood, emotion or description without typing a sentence or paragraph to say what you’re feeling or what your post is about..
Okay, no more history or boring details of how hashtags have evolved. The immediate decision on how to tag your Social Media posts should focus on the following:
- Descriptive – select descriptive hashtags that describe what you are posting
- Popular select hashtags that are very popular if not ‘hot’
- Unique – select hashtags that may not be popular but are unique
Descriptive hashtags keep your content relevant, this is extremely important. If you post a picture of a famous tree you should tag it with search terms that people are searching for. This should lead to short term likes and follows. Relevant tags are usually ‘saturated’ or popular so your posts are usually pushed down in the search results in a few days, but you should see results during this time (ie. likes and followers over a few days).
Popular hashtags are important because you will usually see immediate results (likes & follows) although they are usually short lived. Tag your photos with infamous news, celebrity names, holidays or the latest news topics and you’re guaranteed almost instant results. Keep in mind that you’ll see maximum results within 30 minutes of your post but probably not much more.
Unique hashtags are the best way to tag your content. You usually won’t see instant results (likes or follows) but don’t be surprised if you see a good handfull of activities (likes or follows) over a year or more.
The most important thing to know when tagging your content (image or text) is to use a combination of the above types of tags to find the right balance of types of tags. Don’t tag your content solely with the hottest hashtags or the benefits will be short lived. Don’t tag your hashtag with only Unique tags or it will take years to gain a following. Always tag with Relevant or Descriptive hashtags but also tag with Popular and Unique hashtags.
More importantly, always optimize your content, whether it’s using the most characters in a Twitter post or the right size image for an Instagram post or tagging the post with the maximum allowed tags, you need to do everything possible to do it correctly on the platform that you are posting on. I’ll say it again, maximize your content by using a many characters and or hashtags allowed on the Social Network that you are posting on.
One last recommendation, do as much A and B testing as possible. This means that you post either the same content or similar content with different hashtags and pay attention to the results so that you can identify the best #hashtags that work for your area of interest.
Early on in my Social Networking days I would tag my graphic designs with the likes of #tshirt #graphics #design and similar tags. Now I tag the same content with #instadaily #nba (if Basketball related) #sketchdesign #art #instaart #blue (if the design contains blue as a color) #fun #creative and the results have been exponentially better.
There is no right or wrong way to hashtag your content, it’s all about maximizing the audience that sees your post (short and long term) so always try to find the hottest hashtags for near instant results but also tag with unique and descriptive phrases for longer term results. It’s all about balance!