Utilizing hashtags is one of the easiest and most useful ways of organically expanding audience reach on social media. While hashtags are a great way to boost impressions and engagement many users don’t realize that there are rules on how to use them accordingly on different platforms.
Instagram relies heavily on stuffing posts with as many hashtags as possible, whereas Facebook posts draw less engagement when hashtags are used compared to when none are used at all. The general opinion is that hashtags should be used, but the biggest question is how it should be done.
Using two hashtags on Twitter will result in twice the engagement compared to tweets that don’t use hashtags at all. It seems the “rule of two” is the breaking point for tweets as posts that use three or more hashtags will result in a 17 percent engagement drop.
Whereas there’s a cap on the number of hashtags that should be used in tweets, Instagram posts have a positive correlation between the number of hashtags that are used and an increase in engagement. If the hashtags are relevant to the post, it’s a common practice to abuse Instagram’s 30 hashtag limit to maximize reach, but a post that uses at least 11 hashtags will gain the biggest jump in engagement. For more best practices on using hashtags on Instagram click here.
Oddly enough Facebook doesn’t follow the findings that hashtags will result in increased engagement. There are studies that support the sentiment that posts with no hashtags will produce the most engagement, but in this case it’s best to experiment based on the target audience. Facebook does follow the rule that more hashtags will produce less engagement, so it’s best to use them sparingly on this platform.
Google + is an odd platform in that most of its users are primarily watchers who don’t engage as a community compared to other social media platforms, but it highly supports the use of hashtags. Posts are automatically given hashtags based on their content and users can add additional hashtags to their caption. Users can also utilize Google search to look up a hashtag and they will receive relevant search suggestions in a sidebar based on the hashtag they typed in.
The uses of LinkedIn for professionals are a staple in the industry in networking with relevant peers or presenting a specific skill set to potential employers. LinkedIn also plays well with Google’s search algorithm, which is why the platform is trying to get users to use hashtags to better organize content. There are recommendations for including 3-5 hashtags per post, but two hashtags seem to be a better rule of thumb so posts don’t come across as spam content to viewers. It’s also a great idea to sneak them onto a profile page so that it more readily appears in a LinkedIn search result based on that specific hashtag.
Like Instagram, using upwards of 20 hashtags can produce maximum engagement when pinning posts on Pinterest, but make sure the hashtags are relevant to the content. Many users are complaining that overstuffed pins come across as spam, so a good rule of thumb for Pinterest is to use between 4-8 hashtags instead of 20.
Tumblr is like Instagram and Pinterest in that hashtags should be relevant to the topic and easily searchable. Unlike most social media platforms, only the first five hashtags used are searchable on original posts, while reblogs don’t benefit from hashtag use.
There are varying rules for engagement on social media platforms; audiences will vary, character limits will be different and algorithms are always changing. The general rule of thumb is that hashtags should be used to optimize reach, but here’s a recap of best practices from this article:
- Facebook – Experiment with hashtags, but don’t use more than 1-2 per post.
- Twitter—Two hashtags produce the most engagement per tweet.
- Instagram—As many as possible if they’re relevant.
- Google Plus—Use sparingly so they don’t come across as spam.
- LinkedIn—Start with 1-2 hashtags, but use no more than five per post.
- Pinterest—Some users advocate 4-8 hashtags per pin, but make sure they’re relevant and never use more than 20.
- Tumblr—Use five hashtags; any hashtags beyond the first five won’t be searchable.