In the last post on social media promotion, we looked at creating a range of content for your various social media platforms. I thought it might make sense, now, to take a quick look at hashtags and how you can harness the possibilities they offer.
You probably have lots of hashtags you use regularly, which highlight your practice (materials, objects, techniques) and your role as a maker/designer/artist. You may also use hashtags created especially for events or programmes, or to tie into projects or nation-wide campaigns. This is great. But how well do you know your hashtags?
Do you make use of the analytical tools in your social media platform to see how they perform – what kind of reach or engagement they have? Do you use something like Union Metric’s free tool TweetReach to monitor specific hashtags? Anecdotally, do you know what effect using certain hashtags has on your posts? For example, I know that if I include any hashtags like #creativebusiness I get a lot of engagement from people all over the world who are business start-ups or entrepreneurs or consultants who support businesses. While this is lovely, and it’s inspiring to see what they are up to, they are not technically my target audience. I am not saying don’t use certain hashtags, but I am suggesting that it’s worth doing a bit of investigating to see which hashtags are working for you, and which hashtags your audience is looking for.
If you are hoping to reach new audiences, a great way to do that is to start using new hashtags or ones that cross over into other lifestyle or art/design sectors. You might notice certain hashtags on other people’s posts and try those, or you can find bloggers who post lists of hashtags that are trending or interesting right now. One source I particularly like is the hashtag newsletter of Sara Tasker (@meandorla). Each month she sends out details of hashtags that have caught her eye, along with details of who created them and how many people are using them. Sara also offers a wealth of Instagram support and inspiration on her website from online courses to podcasts; definitely check it out.
As well as established hashtags, don’t underestimate the power of creating your own hashtags for a new body of work or a project. Not only can it be an easy way to index posts (especially on Instagram where you can see all the posts with that hashtag collected together) but it can be a simple way to see how much you are engaging with your audience. Ask your followers to respond using your hashtag and you will start to see who is joining you and how well your ideas are spreading.
Hashtags and social media are fantastic tools for engaging with your audience, but don’t forget to do your homework, to find out the underlying information so you can be strategic in your approach. It’s all there to serve your effective communication about your work, so make it work for you!