Oh, the ‘pound’ sign. How far you’ve come. For those caught up on important (not so recent) social media trends, it’s a hashtag. We also mustn’t forget it’s the universal number sign. However, when used as a hashtag, this multi-faceted little symbol has far more power than the number or pound sign ever had. Here’s how you can harness that power for good on LinkedIn.

Hashtags and LinkedIn

What is a hashtag anyway? Think of it as a powerful categorizing tool. More specifically, a symbol to group together like content that lives on social media. Somewhere around the year 2007, Twitter users were in a frenzy about how content was displayed across the platform. It was a big jumble of topics, with no rhyme or reason. In an effort to control the chaos, hashtags were thrown into the mix. Now, posts on Twitter that contained keywords or phrases preceded by a ‘#’ symbol could be displayed in one, cohesive place where interested parties could find them. All you had to do was search the keywords in the search bar, and it would pull up related posts, mentions, and other media with the same tags. 

While use of the hashtag for categorizing topics was born on Twitter, other social media platforms quickly followed suit. Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn also allow for content on their sites to be grouped by relevant hashtags. Groups that can benefit from adequate use of hashtags differ with each platform. If you’re a business or individual that needs to network and sell themselves professionally, LinkedIn is a solid place to start. If you don’t know what LinkedIn is, think social media platform geared towards showcasing a professional identity. 

Depending on your target audience, LinkedIn could be the best or only platform for you to shine. And shining bright on LinkedIn involves the proper use of hashtags (among other things). LinkedIn suggests using hashtags on its platform to establish credibility, reach people who value your offerings, and to network and start conversations over shared goals and interests.

Do Hashtags Actually Help?

Yes of course, we wouldn’t be talking about them if they didn’t. One of the best ways to reach your audience in this saturated market is to target yourself to the people or entities that care. Why would you want to sell hair products to a bald person? Or a car to someone who only wants to use bikes or public transportation? Once you get a lock on your ideal audience’s wants and needs, you can really use hashtags to your advantage. Additionally, LinkedIn is a great place to do it right now because according to their user data from 2020, only (approximately) 1 to 2 percent of users are even creating content regularly on the platform. This gives you even more room to stand out versus on other social media.

How to Use and Add Hashtags

Believe it or not, there’s a method to the hashtag madness, especially on LinkedIn. Being more of a showcase for businesses and talent, the content you post should be targeted, organized, and relevant to your audience. Not only must the tags be relevant, but they should also be work-appropriate. What works on one social media platform could jeopardize someone’s business on LinkedIn.

Where Do They Go?

Hashtags can go anywhere you can write words. They go on your own LinkedIn posts, shared articles, comments, groups, messages, videos, images, and job postings. Anything that has a text box can contain a hashtag, but that doesn’t mean you can just put hashtags anywhere and they’ll do what you want. While hashtags can go in comments and articles, this type of content doesn’t show up in search results. Try to keep hashtags at the end or embedded in your posts, media, and shared content. Hashtags aren’t meant to replace copy and shouldn’t be used as an alternative. This also appears unprofessional. One way to get the jump on where to place your hashtags is to write out your post, and then embed them where they make sense. They’re supposed to be used to complement and clarify your writing, not to replace it. 

How Many Should I Use?

You may have assumed by now that the number of hashtags you should use on your LinkedIn posts also matters. You don’t want to have too many keywords; this will dilute your topic and can confuse your audience. Keep it concise, LinkedIn recommends the use of about 2 to 3 hashtags in each post. There’s technically no limit to how many hashtags you can use but try to keep it short and simple with what matters most. Each industry varies, however, so if yours could benefit from more than 3 hashtags, don’t limit yourself, but also don’t get out of control. 

Long or short-tailed keywords? 

During your hashtag research, you must decide on whether to use long-tailed keywords as hashtags or use one-word or concise hashtags. Longer words or phrases have the advantage of less competition but are also in fewer search results. Concise, one-word, or popular keywords will have higher search volume but bring more competition. Understanding what type of hashtags to use is an evolving process that must continually be tested and evaluated.

What are the popular LinkedIn hashtags?

This really depends on who you’re targeting, as different buzz words will matter to different niches. Use hashtags exclusively depending on the specific post, versus your entire brand.  Are you a shoe company looking to sell comfortable sneakers to working-class folk always on their feet? You can do research on bigger companies doing the same thing. What hashtags do they use? Note selected hashtags on their posts with high customer engagement. Start following these hashtags and do a deep dive on all content in this niche. Following hashtags is as simple as searching for it on LinkedIn search, clicking it, and then hitting follow once you are on the related search results. Here you can start to build a robust list of related keywords and phrases to test out on your LinkedIn posts to see if their hashtags resonate with your audience. 

How do I track LinkedIn hashtags?

Researching and following hashtags on LinkedIn is a good way to get an idea about popular keywords and phrases in your niche but in order to access specific hashtag metrics and data on your LinkedIn content, you’ll need to use a media monitoring tool. You can monitor the hashtags you follow and see how many people also follow it, but that’s about it (for now) on hashtag metrics from content produced directly on LinkedIn. If you don’t use a monitoring tool, you can simply observe engagement on your content by taking notes on how many people interact with your posts. Metrics you can find include reactions, shares, follows, and comments.

Dos and Don’ts with LinkedIn Hashtags

Here are a few important things to avoid when utilizing hashtags on LinkedIn. Make sure you do not:

  • Skimp on hashtag research. Use LinkedIn search to find related hashtags, follow them, analyze usage, and make a plan of attack. You can also do heavy keyword research on Google or hire someone to do it for you. Just make sure you do the research.
  • Format incorrectly. Make sure the ‘#’ symbol goes before the keyword or phrase and doesn’t contain spaces, punctuation, special symbols, or emojis. If it’s a hashtag consisting of multiple words, write it out all one word, #kindalikethis.  Tags live by their own rules and standard grammar isn’t one of them.
  • Forget to check your spelling. Yeah, grammar and punctuation might not really be a thing for hashtags but spelling still is. It can be easy to overlook them since they’re written differently than normal copy but missing even one letter will send your content into the void of missed opportunity.
  • Have your posts set to private. This one is simple and straightforward, but easy to forget. Make sure your posts are being seen and heard by everyone.

Here are a few tips and things to remember when drafting up tag ideas. Try to:

  • Capitalize multiple-word hashtags. This won’t impact your visibility but will make key phrases easier to understand.
  • Consider location-based hashtags. If your content focuses on a specific region, make sure people in those areas have a front-row seat to your stuff. 
  • Don’t be afraid to use the popular ones. These keywords may have higher competition, but you also don’t want to lose your audience with a ton of unfamiliar hashtags. It’s a delicate balance.
  • Make your own. After you or your marketing team outline your goals and audience, your brand would probably benefit from having its own hashtag. ASAP. When people follow it, they’ll be alerted to everything you post. Make the tag original and relevant. Do a little PR diligence and get multiple eyes on the keyword or phrase. You want to ensure it can’t be misinterpreted for something else.

Can’t figure out hashtags? We can help. Cork Tree Creative has a knowledgeable team that specializes in the evolving nuances of social media. Your online presence is important and can be the difference between brand recognition…or rejection. Make sure you’re getting it right the first time. We can help you brainstorm which tags to use, where they should go, and how to get you right in that visibility sweet spot.