Technology

Creative Connecting: Hashtag Hacks

TechnologyJun 16, 2020

Creative Connecting: Hashtag Hacks

In their latest column, Jen Cullen Williams and Duvall O’Steen share pro tips for using hashtags on Instagram, TikTok and even Facebook.

Duvall O’Steen, left, and Jen Cullen Williams are independent communications strategists and senior consultants for the Luxury Brand Group. They can be reached at DuvallOsteenNYC@gmail.com or Jen@JenCullenWilliams.com.
We all know that hashtags are searchable tools that help brands and retailers connect with more social media users, potentially growing their audience and their engagement.

But, which hashtags are best? And where and how should they be used most effectively?

If you are looking for some easy ways to boost your social media presence, try a few of these hashtag hacks.

Size Matters
When deciding which hashtags to use, the obvious choice is not always the best option. In fact, it can be a little counterintuitive.

Typically, we tend to think broader hashtags are best because they reach the most users—#diamonds, #pearls, etc.

But social media experts like Janet E. Johnson suggest avoiding the larger hashtags for a couple reasons.

One, your post will most likely get lost in the fray. And two, larger hashtags with more than a million posts could attract bots.

When using hashtags, the primary goal is to attract genuine followers, not robots who will DM you, trying to sell you unwanted products or services.

For an Instagram post, try to find more specific hashtags to target more effectively.

As an example, use #marquisediamond instead of #diamond, or #tahitianpearl instead of #pearl or, better yet, #tahitianpearlearrings.

For IG Stories and TikTok, the opposite is true. To gain the widest audience for your 24-hour Instagram story, feel free to use the broader, less specific hashtags.

“The algorithm for IG stories is slightly different,” according to Johnson, “so using a larger hashtag in a story means more people, including your own followers, are more likely to see the story.”

TikTok is still so new that the larger hashtags allow you to gain more followers more quickly.

Profiling
For Instagram, be sure to include at least one hashtag in your profile bio.

“I recommend adding hashtags to your profile to make it more searchable. It allows people to find you who may be searching your particular relevant hashtags,” says Shayne McCoy, founder of Straight Up Social, a boutique social media and digital marketing agency.

You can also use branded hashtags, like your company name or your advertising tagline. If you put this hashtag in your profile bio, it becomes clickable and users can easily follow it. This helps to build brand recognition and community with your followers. 

Strategically, branded hashtags can be used to promote an ad campaign and encourage UGC (user-generated content). 

For example, Nike’s #justdoit campaign 
has generated over 18 million posts. The hashtag is prominently displayed in Nike's bio on Instagram.

Consider using your company or brand name as a hashtag and put it in your profile bio. Then to stimulate more UGC, you can write posts that encourage people to share their favorite piece using the hashtag.

As an example, this could be a fun way to get your customers to share their engagement stories using your hashtag. Any of their friends who might be getting married could see the post and become new followers and, potentially, new customers.

For TikTok, hashtags can help brand your niche on the platform. For example, if you post mostly jewelry videos, you may want to use #jewelrylover or #jewelryaddict. Sticking to your niche on TikTok will help attract more followers.

Go Incognito
Disguise your hashtags to keep your Instagram feed looking professional.

McCoy suggests “placing your hashtags after your post copy by using dots and line breaks to separate. This way, it doesn’t distract from your message.”

Many people suggest putting your hashtags in the first comment of your Instagram post.

However, according to a massive August 2019 study by Social Insider, accounts with fewer than 5,000 followers saw nearly 37 percent more reach by placing hashtags in the original post.

If you are trying to build your following, we suggest putting the hashtags in the post and disguising them by using those four or five dots with line breaks to move them after the “more” prompt in your feed.

You can copy and paste the text with your line breaks from a Notes app or Word document. To create line breaks in IG, while typing the caption, tap the “123” key and on the keyboard with numbers and symbols, hit the return key.

To disguise hashtags in IG stories, place them behind the image or off to the side or bottom.

For TikTok, it is no problem to show your hashtags, but if you use too many, the text will cover up much of your video.

Also, when building your presence on TikTok, the repetition of hashtags works well to help you build your niche audience.

Real and Relevant
Be sure to keep your hashtags authentic and hyper-relevant for your post.

According to jewelry influencer Tracey Ellison (@thediamondsgirl): “Hashtags are necessary, it’s what gets your posts discovered by people that are not following you! But there is a caveat—they have to be relevant, and meaningful.

“For example, don’t use hashtags like #Cartier or #Bulgari when it’s clearly not a piece from that brand, in an attempt to gain attention. That frustrates people, and they will be less likely to follow you, or to trust you!”

While #diamondjewelry might be relevant to your retail business, if you are posting a pair of gold earrings, there is a disconnect for your followers if you include irrelevant hashtags for that particular post.

Instead, look for relevant holiday memes (#fathersdaygiftideas, #bridalpartygifts, etc.) or use geographic hashtags to build your local customer base. In Stories mode, Instagram offers widgets like “stay home” and “shop local” that help increase the viewership of your stories.

“Keeping it organic and relevant is critical,” says Emmanuel Raheb, founder and CEO of SmartAge Solutions. “We find the best thing to do is look for trending ‘Locally Based’ hashtags, such as a local anthem, theme, sports mantra, etc., but always keeping it relevant to your brand.”

McCoy recommends searching new hashtags with Instagram’s explore feature.

“When you search a hashtag like #pearlearrings, located just above the ‘Top’ and ‘Recent’ tabs, other suggestions will appear like #pearljewelry.”

Ellison of @thediamondsgirl agrees: “My recommendation is to always stay on point, using tags that relate to the post, and don’t be shy to be creative and original. For example, if you are posting emeralds, use a tag like #greenwithenvy.”

Also, social media support services like Later, Agorapulse, Hootsuite and others typically offer helpful hashtag suggestions for business accounts.

Lastly, follow popular jewelry influencers such as @thediamondsgirl, @katerina_perez, @gemgossip and National Jeweler’s very own @ashleylikesgems to see what hashtags they are using.

Quality Over Quantity
There is varying advice among experts regarding how many hashtags to include in a post. 

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post and caption character limit of 2,200 including hashtags. 

Most social media experts recommend using fewer; however, if you are still building your following, go ahead and use up to 30 hashtags that are real and authentic for your brand, just be sure to go incognito with them (see above). 

TikTok limits captions to 100 characters including hashtags.

For more established IG accounts, limit your hashtags to five to 10 per post and focus on quality over quantity. Niche hashtags, meaning targeted and specific hashtags as discussed above, are preferable and can generate more engagement and brand awareness. 

The IG Stories button allow you only one hashtag. However, you can use more hashtags if you place them in a text box. Again, just remember to move the text box with hashtags behind the image, or out of view to the side or bottom of the story.

In terms of quality, Raheb advises, “Be mindful of local events, such as the recent Blackout Tuesday campaign. We saw many companies get slammed for misusing or altering the message; sometimes keeping it simple and to the point is key.”

Ellison has another clever idea: “From a personal perspective, I find tags the most effective way to organize my page. This is because I always add a tag that links me to the post, such as #TheDiamondsGirlX(insert jeweler here), and then whenever I want to find posts I’ve done for a particular jeweler, I have them neatly grouped together under one hashtag! 

“I do it with places and events too so a single post may have #TheDiamondsGirlXLasVegas and #TheDiamondsGirlXJCK2019. It may seem like overkill, but if anyone looks up #TheDiamondsGirl, you can bet loads of post will come up, and that’s the aim, right?”

On Facebook, hashtags are not as widely used because most profiles are designated private, making it difficult to track success. 

Limit your hashtags on Facebook to less than five. You can research relevant hashtags by using the search feature.

Whatever hashtags you decide to use, just be mindful of their size, make sure they are relevant, attempt to hide them in your feed and put at least one in your bio. 

And, finally, experiment! With the ever-evolving nature of social media, what works today may not be as relevant a few months from now. Mix it up, track your success and always be authentic.

We want to hear from you! Comment below and share your favorite jewelry hashtags to follow. 
Jen Cullen Williamsis an independent communications strategist and senior consultant for the Luxury Brand Group.
Duvall O'Steenis an independent communications strategist and senior consultant for the Luxury Brand Group.

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