Unfortunately, most people using hashtags don’t realize what they are used for. Using them correctly can boost the reach of your posts & photos quite a bit. Hashtags are used as keywords for your photos, enabling people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to search hashtags listed on content they like to find more photos.
A REAL EXAMPLE OF HOW THEY WORK: Lets meet Jane. She is an avid Instagram user and loves following people who post beauty related photos. She’s always looking for the latest look and style, and Instagram is a great way for her to do that in her spare time. She also has money to spend. In this example she just stumbled upon a photo of a blowout at Dry Bar called the “Cosmo Tai”. She just gasped for breath thinking how great that style would look on her. Now lets follow the process of how she finds out more:
By using a consistent hashtag (#cosmotai) Dry Bar has 626 related photos using that hashtag. Now Jane has hours of photos to browse if she chooses. Most likely she will look at a couple that appeal to her the most, and then attempt to find out who she can go to for this look.
Now lets take a look at a hashtag fail. Jane has been browsing Instagram and comes across the same photo, this time with an irrelevant hashtag #cosmotaiplease. Now see how her efforts pan out as she tries to find out more:
From this example you can see how hashtags are meant to be used, and how using them poorly can cost you an opportunity to pick up a new client. Choose your hashtags wisely, and be sure to choose a hashtag for yourself so people can find out who you are. You don’t need to be too explicit in your hashtags. For a reminder, just look at the search results for #costmotai (626 results) vs. the results for similar hashtags (#cosmotaiplease, #cosmotaicurls, #cosmotaiblowout, etc.) which all produced just 1 post.
Let Justin Timberlake show you how not to use hashtags.
Here are some more details on using hashtags:
SO, HOW DO YOU USE A HASHTAG CORRECTLY? The answer is easy: Is your hashtag something that other people are using? Is it based on a currently trending topic on Instagram? Is it part of a niche following for like-minded users to talk to each other? Are you or your salon using it to brand yourself or organize content? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then go ahead and use the hashtag. Let’s examine each of those scenarios a little deeper.
IS IT SOMETHING OTHER PEOPLE ARE USING? Two great example of this are the hashtags #ff and #fml. #FF stands for Follow Friday. It’s a weekly trend on Twitter and Instagram where users tag their friends with hashtag #ff to encourage other users to follow them. It’s a great way to gain new followers and give props to your friends who tweet about interesting things. Hashtag #fml is a little more vulgar, but it’s used all the time. It stands for F*** My Life. People use it when something bad happens to them – usually out of their control. Come home to find your basement flooded? Hashtag #fml. Out on a blind date with a guy who turns out to be a major creeper? Hashtag #fml.
IS IT A CURRENTLY TRENDING TOPIC? A hashtag is great for being timely and immediate. It lets users know what is going on right now. Broadcast television has done a great job of creating relevant hashtags. For example, during the Emmy Awards a few nights ago, #emmys was a trending topic across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you wanted to see what other people were saying about the Emmy awards, all you had to do was search for hashtag #emmys. You’ll see the same thing during the Super Bowl or the season premiere of The Walking Dead. It’s a way for people across the world to share in the same moment together.
IS IT PART OF A NICHE FOLLOWING FOR LIKE-MINDED USERS? This is usually where I use hashtags the most. For Image Studios, we use #imagestudios and #lovewhereyouwork quite a bit. People who search and use those tags themselves are able to see things that I post and I can do the same. Hashtags help the salon community stay connected, and in this case, the salon professionals at Image Studios. We share reviews and photos. We offer tips when we find a great article or blog post. It creates community.
ARE YOU OR YOUR SALON USING IT TO BRAND YOURSELF OR ORGANIZE CONTENT? This one is similar to the previous example about like-minded users. It’s okay to create your own hastag – as long as you have purpose behind it! Like I mentioned above, we use #imagestudios and #lovewhereyouwork as our official salon hashtags. Notice that these custom hashtags aren’t too long or obnoxious or unrelated to anything. There is a purpose behind them – and they’re great for organizing our content, too.
DON’T ABUSE HASHTAGS. Use them for what they were meant to do. People who make hashtags for every silly little thing are like that girl at the party who never shuts up and everyone wants to punch her in the nose. Don’t be that person.