Do hashtags in social media marketing matter anymore?

illustration in blue and pink hues, of miniature people working around a giant laptop with the hashtag symbol in the centre signifying the importance of hashtags in social media marketing

In this era of short attention spans, doom-scrolling, viral memes, dancing cats and selfies gone wild, one might wonder, “Do hashtags even matter anymore?” Well, hold onto your ‘avocado toast’ because we’re about to dive deep and unravel the true power of hashtags in social media marketing.

From #ThrowbackThursdays to #MondayMotivation, these little phrases have the ability to catapult your content and brand into virality. While some may believe hashtags are losing their relevance, that is not entirely true. In fact, in 2023, hashtags are still doing their job, proving their significance in social media marketing. Let’s explore how!

Table of content

  1. What are Hashtags
  2. The significance of hashtags in social media marketing
  3. Benefits of using hashtags
  4. Challenges faced in using hashtags
  5. Hashtags on different social media platforms
  6. Successful hashtag campaigns
  7. Some concluding thoughts

What exactly is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a word or keyword phrase, often preceded by the hash or pound symbol (#), which plays a crucial role in social media by tagging users and cross-referencing content. Hashtags in social media serve as a means to connect posts to specific topics, themes, or ongoing conversations. By highlighting a particular subject, hashtags make it easier for users to search for related content and engage with the target audience.

A YouTube cover image of a collage of an Indian Instagram influencer reviewing hair colours
The first recorded use of the hashtag on a tweet by Chris Messina

The significance of hashtags in social media marketing

Since their inception, hashtags in social media marketing have brought about a profound transformation. By efficiently categorising and making content easily discoverable, hashtags in social media have become a powerful tool for reaching a broader audience. Social media marketers have harnessed the potential of hashtags to create viral campaigns, amplify brand awareness and accomplish their creative objectives. Moreover, hashtags play a pivotal role in directing attention towards specific niches or brands, thus driving higher engagement. While hashtags were initially synonymous with platforms like Twitter and Instagram, their prevalence has extended to almost every social media channel.

A screenshot of a tweet by Coca-Cola as a part of their Share A Coke social media marketing campaign
The #ShareACoke campaign was one of the most successful social media marketing campaigns

For instance, let’s take the case of #ShareACoke, a campaign initiated by Coca-Cola and its digital marketing company. By incorporating this hashtag in their social media posts and encouraging consumers to share photos with their personalised Coke bottles, Coca-Cola sparked a wave of user-generated content and participation. This innovative use of hashtags increased brand visibility and fostered a sense of community and personal connection among consumers. It exemplifies hashtags’ importance on social media and how they can effectively leverage the platforms to enhance brand engagement and establish a strong online presence.

Benefits of using hashtags

In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, hashtags have emerged as powerful tools for digital marketers and brands. Understanding hashtags’ importance in social media is crucial for any business aiming to thrive in the online sphere. Here are some key reasons why hashtags play a pivotal role in social media marketing:

  • Enhanced Brand Visibility: Hashtags offer a unique opportunity to increase brand awareness and visibility. By strategically incorporating relevant hashtags into social media content, companies can expand their reach and connect with a wider audience.
  • Targeted Audience Engagement: With the use of hashtags, digital marketers can effectively target specific groups of individuals who are genuinely interested in their products or services. This ensures that the content reaches the right audience, leading to higher engagement and conversions.
  • Amplified SEO and Trend Capitalisation: Hashtags serve as a gateway to improved social media platform “SEO” or search engine optimisation (SEO) by making content more discoverable on that platform. Moreover, savvy marketers can leverage trending hashtags to join relevant conversations and ride the wave of popular topics, boosting their presence on that platform and engagement.

For example, a digital marketing agency can strategically incorporate hashtags like #digitalmarketingtips or #onlinemarketingstrategy to attract their target audience and position themselves as industry experts. By harnessing the power of hashtags, businesses can unlock new opportunities for growth and success in the dynamic world of social media.

Challenges with using hashtags

Alongside the undeniable benefits, there are challenges that marketers face when incorporating hashtags into their strategies. Understanding and addressing these challenges is vital for harnessing the full potential of hashtags in social media marketing. Here are some common hurdles and effective solutions:

1. Oversaturation and Competition: As hashtags have gained popularity, the sheer volume of content associated with popular hashtags has skyrocketed. This oversaturation poses a challenge in standing out from the crowd and reaching the target audience effectively.

Solution: Marketers must strike a balance between popular and niche hashtags. For instance, a graphic design agency can promote its services and target a more tailored audience while minimising competition by combining relevant, industry-specific hashtags like #GraphicDesignAgency with more specific, long-tail hashtags like #CreativeDesignSolutions

2. Lack of Consistency and Relevance: Inconsistent use of hashtags can dilute a brand’s message and hinder its discoverability. Irrelevant or overly generic hashtags can attract the wrong audience or fail to create meaningful connections.

Solution: Conduct thorough research and develop a hashtag strategy aligned with brand values and campaign objectives. Tailor hashtags to specific posts, ensuring they are relevant, concise, and resonate with the target audience. For instance, a Graphic Design Agency could use hashtags like #CreativeDesignTips or #DesignInspiration to attract individuals seeking design insights and inspiration.

3. Trend Relevance and Timing: Staying up-to-date with trending hashtags can be challenging, as trends emerge and fade rapidly. Missing out on trending topics can limit a brand’s exposure and hinder engagement opportunities.

Solution: Regularly monitor industry trends and leverage popular hashtags that align with the brand’s messaging. By actively participating in conversations surrounding trending topics, businesses can increase their visibility and engage with a wider audience.

Hashtags on different social media platforms

Let’s explore how hashtags are used on various social media platforms

Instagram

On Instagram, unique hashtags are created to drive user campaigns and increase the visibility of Instagram stories. They help users discover content related to their interests. Studies have shown that the optimal number of hashtags per post is between 9 and 11, increasing engagement and reach.

instagram-hashtag
How many hashtags can increase engagement per post

Facebook

Hashtags are not commonly used on Facebook posts, as they generally don’t perform well. However, in specific use cases where content promotion is involved, hashtags can be utilised.

Pinterest

Pinterest-hashtag
How hashtags can make finding particular topics easier

On Pinterest, hashtags are used to identify specific topics or pins. Clicking on a hashtag allows users to discover related pins. It’s advisable to use no more than 20 relevant, specific, and descriptive hashtags for better searchability.

Twitter

Tweets with hashtags on Twitter tend to generate more retweets compared to those without hashtags. However, it’s recommended to limit the use of hashtags to 1 or 2 per post for optimal engagement

Examples of great hashtag campaigns

Let’s take a look at some successful hashtag campaigns that effectively utilised hashtags to achieve their marketing goals

Byju’s Master Ji Campaign
Byju’s, a leading Indian education company, launched the “Master Ji” campaign in 2021 to honour teachers who persevered during the pandemic. Using hashtags like #KeepLearning and #LearnUnlearnRelearn, Byju’s amplified the campaign’s reach and resonated with the audience. The campaign featured a poignant film portraying a village teacher’s struggle with technology. By leveraging storytelling and relatable experiences, Byju’s sparked meaningful conversations and generated significant engagement.


The Byju’s Masterji Campaign. Source: BYJU’S YouTube

The strategic use of hashtags played a pivotal role, associating the content with popular and relevant tags for maximum visibility. The campaign’s impact went beyond social media, igniting a nationwide dialogue on education. Byju’s Master Ji campaign exemplifies the power of hashtags in social media marketing, inspiring the industry to leverage this tool for amplifying messages, fostering engagement and creating meaningful change. As a branding agency in Ahmedabad, we used this campaign as an example while training many young digital marketeers.

Protect With CarzSpa
CarzSpa, a renowned car detailing studio with a global presence, embarked on a captivating campaign to showcase its exceptional paint protection services. Through a series of visually appealing Instagram posts, CarzSpa emphasised the advantages of their paint protection films, graphic coatings, and ceramic coatings. To amplify their reach and engage the target audience, they strategically employed the hashtag #ProtectWithCarzSpa. The campaign’s hashtag gained remarkable traction, garnering over 3,000 posts from satisfied customers and enthusiasts.

This success exemplifies the profound impact of hashtags in promoting specific products or services, enabling brands to effectively penetrate their target markets and generate buzz. Managed by Flora Fountain, who is their digital marketing agency and SEO company in Ahmedabad, the team incorporated relevant and compelling hashtags into social media campaigns that significantly enhance brand visibility, boost engagement, and ultimately drive business growth. CarzSpa’s campaign serves as a testament to the hashtags’ importance in social media, inspiring brands to leverage this powerful tool for greater reach and impact.

Some concluding thoughts

To conclude, hashtags play a vital role in social media and social media marketing. They simplify content discovery, facilitate audience engagement and enhance brand awareness. Strategic use of hashtags in various brand marketing strategies can significantly promote a brand’s reach and visibility. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to incorporate hashtags in their social media campaigns and utilise their potential to the fullest.

Remember, hashtags in social media marketing are still relevant in 2023 and leveraging them effectively can lead to improved results. Consider the benefits and challenges associated with hashtags, explore their usage on different social media platforms and draw inspiration from successful hashtag campaigns to enhance your brand’s social media presence. And of course, if you want to speak to us about it just drop an email at hello@florafountain.com

Vasim Samadji is a partner at Flora Fountain, where he leads the Business and Marketing Strategy divisions. He is a seasoned professional with an MBA in marketing and over a decade of experience working with multiple MNCs. Vasim is a firm believer in the power of creation and he is...

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