05 Simple change – big impact: How to master the art of hashtags

By Vicky Stoakes, Client Services Director


It’s not a social media sneeze. It’s not just a *thing* used by glossy brand influencers. Hashtags facilitate searches and unless we want to be off-grid (which is an actual *thing* these days, particularly if you’ve been watching Netflix’s You…anyone?), then we really do want to be found, don’t we? That’s a rhetorical question.

Yet, in the design and brand world we have a problem. Hashtags are often in woeful existence. Seriously, woeful. They are either cut and paste, totally irrelevant to the content or completely and utterly ignored. But you might get an emoji if you are lucky. So, what’s the problem?

The problem with cut and paste. It was once an easy way to keep on top of your hashtags, but Instagram is clamping down on spam accounts and cut and paste may flag on their systems as spam. As a result,  it won’t push your content as much as others. This is a whole other conversation you can ask me about another time…

To avoid being ignored by Instagram, change up your posts. Have a list of five-six hashtags you use on every post, then a changing list of five-six that are relevant to each specific post.

But cut and paste on LinkedIn? As LinkedIn responds best to two hashtags, the best agencies pick two that reflect their agency offer and repeat them. LinkedIn does not penalise you for this, but you are rewarded for having a clear and considered approach and will reach a targeted audience with this approach.

The problem with no hashtags. It’s simple. No-one can find you! So outside of your followers, no-one will see your well-thought-out and loved content. Fact. I’m actually shaking my head here in dismay. And please don’t go back and edit and add hashtags. Instagram hates editing, so your post won’t be seen by as many people as it could have been if you’d done it right in the first place.

The problem with irrelevant hashtags. You’ve created a mind-blowing brand identity for a tech start-up. You’re sharing on all your channels…over on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter (and even created a case study on Pinterest). But you’re hashtagging #orange.

On Instagram that’s fine, more than fine. Hashtag away…go for all the relevant ones, up to 10-11 if you like. Think of your followers, who are they, what will they appreciate? #branding #typeface #brandidentity #design #type etc.

But LinkedIn? This is your business audience. An audience that has the power to make decisions – including which branding agency they might want to work with. So, forget about hashtagging orange. No-one is following #orange on LinkedIn. There’s no hashtag community for orange (have a look at the ‘communities’ box on your LinkedIn homepage). Pick two hashtags that have a strong community and will speak to your targeted audience #branding #startups might hit the right tone. Use those and your post has the potential to reach over 18 million followers. Powerful or what?

So, understand the potential of a hashtag. It might look humble, but its power is mighty.


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