How to #Hashtag

The (#) is an ever-evolving symbol. Some may remember it as the pound sign. Others may think of it as the number sign. A small number may even know it as the octothorp. Today, you know the sign as a hashtag, a social media feature that may benefit your online marketing presence as a real estate agent. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of hashtag use, including which platforms suit them best and the difference between trending and custom tags. You’ll also hear about the dos and don’ts of hashtags such as the pitfalls of overuse and tagging without research.

What are Hashtags?
A brief refresher: Hashtags serve as keywords in a search function. You can identify one by the pound sign (#) followed by a word or phrase, as in #RealEstate. When used this way, hashtags group pieces of digital content on social media that share a common theme to create searchable topics. So, a search for #RealEstate on Twitter gathers all recent and popular content with that tag in one location for you to view.

Which Platforms Support Them?
Hashtags may be used on any social media post, but only on certain platforms. Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Vine are all ideal because users can easily search for content and receive a list of posts containing a particular tag. Facebook has a similar search function, but doesn’t work as well due to a high number of private profiles. In turn, this makes tagging less prevalent on that network. Hashtags are not supported on Pinterest, Snapchat, or LinkedIn, so avoid using them on those sites altogether.

How Do I Label Content?
All hashtags should follow a certain format, and each platform has different guidelines for them. When using ones that contain multiple words, as in #RealEstate, do not separate them with a space, punctuation, or symbol. This means that signs like the ampersand (&), dollar sign ($), and even the pound sign itself (#) should not follow the hashtag. While there is no actual limit to length, six characters are optimal . Stay away from longer tags, as they’re harder to read. In terms of number of hashtags, you may find more engagement on Twitter with just two. You can add more on Instagram posts, since the platform allows up to 30. However, it’s not recommended to use such a high number because they may make your post seem cluttered. On Facebook, however, your content may actually fare better without any hashtags at all, due to their unwieldiness within the platform.

Which Hashtags do I Use?
Since the basic function of hashtags is to reflect the content of the post, consider descriptive terms. For example, a photo of a loft in Boston might have the tags #Boston and #loft in it. As a realtor, you may want to incorporate industry terms, such as #Property, #ForSale, #JustListed, or #DreamHome to reach others interested in real estate. Make sure to search for the hashtag before using it to avoid obscure or even controversial topics. A seemingly innocent phrase may not be so. Try a search for your local area (#Boston, #Springfield, etc.) plus #RealEstate in order to find popular local tags your potential clients use. You could also utilize tools to find popular hashtags in your area, but only use ones relevant to your content. Your loft photo won’t benefit from the popular hashtags #foodie or #love.

Now that you know the ins and outs of hashtags, you can start using them like a pro!

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[…] marketing? Think again. Even after you’ve created a profile, established a following, and learned how to hashtag, there’s still more to learn. Social media groups, or communities built around a common interest, […]