Don’t get us wrong–we love a good #ThrowbackThursday or #MotivationMonday, but COVID-19 means that we’re all approaching and using hashtags a little differently these days.
As you probably know by now, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a pound sign (#) and is used within social media posts to draw attention or engagement to certain trends and topics. Hashtags allow brands to engage certain audiences, gain new followers, join relevant conversations, and get their posts indexed by the social media network. By using hashtags, brands can expand their reach beyond those who already follow them to potentially millions of more people. But since COVID-19, we’ve seen dramatic shifts in what topics the public is focusing on.
As our cultural norms continue to change, much of the discourse and hashtags that were popular a few months ago are irrelevant now. These shifts in conversation and attention are happening daily and have altered consumer norms across industries, which means we have to shift our marketing strategies in order to keep up. Despite rapid changes, hashtags remain a great tool for engagement, leveraging conversation, and growing your digital presence to boost your brand–if you know how to use them.
In this post we’ll break down the different types of hashtags you should use, how to choose the right ones, and show how to utilize them depending on each social media platform–so read on for everything you need to know about using hashtags during COVID-19.
Using Hashtags During COVID-19: Use Top Trending Hashtags
When it comes to using hashtags during COVID-19, the first thing to ask yourself is, “which trends can I piggyback on?” A big reason people use social media is to follow trending topics and find out what people and brands are talking about. You can use an analytics tool like Hashtagify or Tweet Reach to find top trending hashtags related to your business, and see widely-used hashtags during COVID-19 in your industry that are both relevant and far-reaching.
We aren’t suggesting you use hashtags during COVID-19 just for the sake of using them. Wide reach does not necessarily equal high engagement. Make sure you are posting meaningful content and using the hashtag to add to the conversation. This means using the information on what’s trending to create an effective and relevant social media and digital marketing strategy, drafting high-quality social media messages, and then applying the trending hashtags that will bring attention to those messages.
For example, some great hashtags for healthcare brands to use are #HealthcareHeroes, #InMyScrubs, and #WeApplaud. You can, and should, use these if your brand is in the healthcare industry, and use them with posts that spotlight your nurses, or show the hard work your team is doing on the frontlines, or in some other way express gratitude for your employees. These are great ways to use trending yet industry-specific hashtags during COVID-19.
As you probably know, there are plenty of general and non-specific coronavirus hashtags, such as #COVID19, #StayHome, #SocialDistancing, etc. These are okay to use if you’re talking about your business’s new policies and guidelines related to the pandemic. Plus, they are great for getting your messages categorized on the platforms. However, because they are so general and highly saturated, there is a higher likelihood they will get drowned out quickly. Therefore, they are typically most effective when used combined with other, equally important types of hashtags during COVID-19.
Using Hashtags During COVID-19: Use Content Hashtags
Another type of hashtag you can use is a content hashtag:one that uses specific words directly related to a certain industry, product or service. These are typically keywords that your audience might be searching for when looking for information related to the industry.
Content hashtags are great for getting your messages noticed by a niche market. They are an effective tool for targeting specific audiences, as people often hashtags related to their interests. For example, when we make a social media post about marketing, we typically use popular yet industry-specific content hashtags such as #SEO, #MarketingTips, or #branding, as these are widely used buzz words. During COVID-19, however, as more and more businesses turn to online marketing, we find that hashtags such as #DigitalMarketing and #SocialMediaMarketing are even more effective than before. You can look for trends like these that have started during COVID-19 too and apply them to your own brand.
One great tool for finding effective content hashtags is Best-Hashtags.com. Here, you can type in a keyword and it will come up with a list of the most relevant content hashtags related to that topic. It is a constantly changing list, and it’s important to keep watching which content hashtags are most popular at any given time. During COVID-19, many hashtags have remained effective and widely used, but others have changed or been replaced by more relevant ones. Since it can change on a regular basis, make sure to stay up to date with what is trending in your industry. Usage of hashtags during COVID-19 may differ, but their dynamic nature is consistent.
Using Hashtags During COVID-19: Find Upcoming Cause Awareness Days
Another effective type of hashtag is one that is tied to a national observance or awareness day that is relevant to your business. This is a great opportunity not just for using effective hashtags during COVID-19, but for creating excellent content as well. Holidays like #NationalBestFriendsDay or #NationalDonutDay are great ways to get your audience to engage with posts, as well as to offer some lighthearted content during this difficult time. It can also encourage people take action and post their own content in response to your message. After all, how do you not post an Instagram story with your Chipotle meal on #NationalBurritoDay?
There are holidays for almost everything you can think of, and we guarantee you can find at least a few that relate to your brand. Does your business sell pet-related products? Make a post about #LoveYourPetDay in February, #K9VeteransDay in March, #NationalPetDay in April, and many more. Is your business a liquor store or bar? Celebrate #WorldCocktailDay in May, #WorldRumDay in July, and #InternationalBeerDay in August. The list goes on and on! You can go to nationaltoday.com to find a list for every month of the year.
The great thing about holiday hashtags, similar to trending and content hashtags, is that since these hashtags are often established and well known, they help to increase visibility. However, using pre-made hashtags isn’t your only option. If you’re looking for something more original, you might be considering a more unique kind of hashtag that distinguishes your brand from others. Consider making your own hashtags during COVID-19.
Using Hashtags During COVID-19: Make Your Own
Sometimes, even if you have the most creative content and relevant hashtags, your post might still get lost in all the others. Although they are great for many kinds of posts, there are some campaigns that are too unique to your brand to fit into any pre-made hashtag. That’s when you might consider making your own unique hashtags during COVID-19 for your brand or campaign.
Brand-specific hashtags can be used for a specific marketing campaign or for general branding. They are great for promoting upcoming events, product releases, or even social media contests. If you have a new and innovative idea, making a new brand hashtag might be just the push your brand needs to propel its campaign forward.
The benefit of using unique brand hashtags during COVID-19 is that they feel more personal for people, and help make your brand stand out among its competitors. A general rule of thumb for making your own brand hashtag is keep it simple. Make it short, easy to say, and easy for others to join on in.
One great example is Purina’s #PetsAtWork campaign. The company made an announcement on Instagram that people tend to feel less stressed when working near their pets, which is why working from home can be so beneficial. They started posting regular pictures of their employees working either from home or in the office with their dogs and cats. This hashtag caught on because many people who work from home could easily join in by posting pictures of their own pet (and because everyone loves seeing cute animal pictures).
Creating hashtag campaigns that are fun, clever, and easy to join in are great ways to get your brand noticed. If you’re worried it won’t catch on right away, try combining it with other trending or content hashtags during COVID-19 so that it can gain attention.
Using Hashtags During COVID-19: Tweak Usage for Each Platform
Finally, keep in mind that every social media platform is different in how they index and show posts with hashtags to its users. Here are some general tips for the main social media platforms:
Tweets with just one or two hashtags typically get the best engagement. Using too many trending hashtags during COVID-19 can make the post appear to have no focus and thus reduce its engagement. For Twitter, we find great results from using one unique brand hashtag and one content or trending hashtag.
There are differing opinions on how many hashtags are best for an Instagram post. Instagram recommends to use at least 9, but no more than 30. Avoid using more hashtags than you need because irrelevant or off-topic hashtags might make your post lose engagement and then get drowned out by more popular posts. We find that posts with anywhere from 9 to 12 hashtags perform great.
Facebook and LinkedIn
These two platforms work similarly when it comes to hashtags, which aren’t as useful as they are on Twitter and Instagram. However, when they are specific and highly relevant, they can help boost your post’s reach. Using too many hashtags during COVID-19 on these platforms will lower engagement. Posts with one or two tend to get the best engagement. For Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s most effective to use content hashtags that are industry-specific and tagged onto the end of your post in order to get noticed by your audience.
YouTube is more picky about hashtags than other platforms. We suggest using between three and six hashtags in your description. If you use more than 15, YouTube will ignore all hashtags. So pick a couple of main points of your video and hashtag the keywords that you think your audience will be searching for. Unique brand hashtags during COVID-19 also work well on this platform, so pairing a few hashtags with your own created one is a highly effective strategy.
Using hashtags during COVID-19 on your various social media platforms is a great way to help improve your business’s reach. As the pandemic unfolds, remember to keep an eye on relevant topics, especially related to your industry, so that you can add something meaningful to the conversation. Hashtags, when used correctly, do a great job of getting your message noticed, but they can only go so far if your content isn’t engaging. For tips on creating great social media and digital marketing content during COVID-19, click here.
In the meantime, remember that SN Digital Agency is an experienced, results driven full service social media agency! We understand that many businesses need extra help during this time, and we would love to hear from you about partnering with your business to leverage your social media presence for success now and in the future! Contact us today!