LinkedIn Hashtags 101: The Art of Effective Hashtag Use

LinkedIn Hashtags 101: The Art of Effective Hashtag Use

Let’s talk about hashtags.

It’s an ongoing mystery to many people as to how they are supposed to leverage hashtags as part of their content strategy and, more broadly, social selling strategy.

What are hashtags? What can you do with them? Why do they matter?

These are all common questions I get from clients when training on social selling. So in this week’s Sell with Social, we will (hopefully) answer these questions and more!

What are Hashtags?

From my quick research, it appears that hashtags were first introduced in 2007 on Twitter. They were proposed as a way to create channels or groups for users to quickly interact with each other’s related content.

Fast forward to today, and hashtags have been incorporated across all of the social media platforms as a way to quickly categorize, search, and follow specific topics.

Hashtags on LinkedIn function similarly to hashtags on other social media platforms. They are clickable keywords or phrases preceded by the "#" symbol. When you include a hashtag in your LinkedIn post, it becomes a link that other users can click on to view all the public posts that also use that hashtag.

For example, if you're a sales professional posting about "customer engagement," you might include the hashtag #CustomerEngagement in your post. By doing so, your post will be linked to the #CustomerEngagement hashtag page, where users can see all the other posts related to that topic.

Hashtags categorize content, making it discoverable to a wider audience beyond your immediate network. Ideally, they can help expand the visibility of your content beyond your direct network.

When should you use Hashtags?

One of the most confusing parts of hashtags is understanding when to use them and what “types” of hashtags there are.

Here are the main ways I recommend using them:

Broad Topics

The most common ways to incorporate hashtags are through the use of tagging broad topics to your content and profile. In other words, what are the major topics that your content is about?

I will sometimes use broad terms, such as #SocialSelling or #DigitalSales, that directly relate to the general topics in my industry. Adding these hashtags to my content links them back to the broader topic lists, and enables them to be seen by people outside of my direct network who are searching for those terms.

Another common usage of hashtags is to label your content with associated trending events or topics. This is a great way to get your content featured in the discussion on trending news.

For instance, if you are a technology enthusiast who is creating content on the latest iPhone release, you might include the hashtag #iPhone15 on your content. Or if you are writing about degrading employee relations amid the post-Covid economy, you might use the hashtag #QuietQuitting on your posts.

Using trending hashtags is one of the best ways to tap into the views associated with viral ideas. If your content can get visibility amongst a viral topic, you can quickly get thousands (or more) impressions.

Events

Events and tradeshow organizers will often use specific hashtags to promote their events. This provides an excellent opportunity for you to link your content before, during, and after an event.

A great example of this is a local event I often attend here in Madison - Social Media Breakfast. Each month, they use the hashtag #SMBMad when posting about their events. They also encourage people in attendance to use the hashtag as well. This allows attendees to interact with event content on social media platforms, as well as find/connect with each other.

I highly recommend you look to see if specific hashtags are associated with each event you attend. You can often find these by looking at the posts that the event organizers are publishing. Then, you can use those hashtags as you post before, during, and after the event.

Branded Keywords

Hashtags can also be used to promote branded or product-specific content. While these hashtags will never get wide adoption (unless you are working for a major brand), these do provide a way to link back content and conversations specific to your particular brand.

For instance, I could use the terms #RoloffConsulting or #SocialSellingBootCamp to link my related business content together. While there isn’t a major benefit to doing this, it would allow me to create a central hashtag listing page with all of my associated promotional content.

#MakeAPoint

The last common use case for using hashtags is to #MakeAPoint. This type of hashtag gets to the heart of the video skit at the top with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. It’s a way to #Emphasize the point you are trying to make.

My friend John Lindsey is the king of this on LinkedIn. Nearly every post and comment he makes uses a random hashtag phrase.

Example of John's many fun hashtags. 

While there are absolutely no reach or engagement benefits to adding random hashtags, it can provide some entertainment and make your content more fun to interact with.

Where to Use Hashtags

Now that you know what type of hashtags to use, let’s talk about how and where to use different hashtags.

In Posts

The most common place to use hashtags is by adding to the content of your posts. This is their primary use case and enables you to categorize your posts based on the hashtags you select.

Doing this is as simple as typing the “#” symbol, followed by your desired topic in your posts. You can do this mid-post amongst your content, at the bottom of the post, or do a mix of both.

Your Profile

If you have creator mode enabled, you can add hashtags to your profile. This goes under your “Talks about” heading at the top of your profile.

If you do this, LinkedIn will associate your profile and the content you produce with those topics. However, remember that you’ll still need to include those hashtags in your individual posts as well.

Following Topics

Another powerful way to use hashtags is to follow them. This is a function that allows you to automatically see new posts that are tagged to a specific topic.

To start following a topic, you can get to its hashtag posts page by clicking on the hashtag in a post or searching for the hashtag in the search bar.

A Few Extra #Tips

So you’re ready to start hashtagging? Here are a few miscellaneous tips I want to let you know about before you start:

  1. Research First - Spend time researching which hashtags to use. The best way to do this is by looking at what other influential people in your industry are using. Look for common hashtags, click on them to see that topic’s feed, and find the hashtags that make the most sense for your content.
  2. Capitalize Each Word - To make your hashtags easier to read in our posts, capitalize the beginning of each word. It’s a minor tweak, but it makes them far more legible.
  3. Stay Consistent - You should try to use the same hashtags consistently. This will enable you to build a reputation for posting content on specific topics. You can, and should, mix in unique hashtags as appropriate based on the content (such as events, unrelated topics, or business promotions). But try to have a few core hashtags that represent your personal brand.

I want you to start exploring hashtags for this week's action items.

Here’s what you can do to get started:

  1. Research Hashtags - Do some basic research to see what hashtags are relevant to the content you post and your industry. Look at competitors, influencers, events, etc., and see what common hashtags you see.
  2. Follow a Hashtag - While researching, click on a few hashtags and follow them. This will help you keep a pulse on the content and discussions happening around a specific topic.
  3. Use a Hashtag - Try using a hashtag(s) in the next post you do. Look back at the various hashtag types I mentioned above and consider what makes the most sense based on your content.

While I don’t think they are a fundamental part of a social selling strategy, hashtags are another variable that impacts how content performs on social media. They can enable you to tap additional audiences, as well as curate content around a certain topic.

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