Two types of hashtags to use (and why you should care)
from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here)
Are you using social media for business and / or projects that are important to you? If the answer is 'yes,' it's worth considering how you employ hashtags in social media posts.
Quick note for readers who need Hashtag 101 (otherwise skip to next paragraph)
According to Merriam-Webb*, a hashtag is, "a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet)." I often think of @ handles as being social media identities, whereas hashtags are subjects / topics being addressed in posts.
Whereas a few years ago when running social media workshops I would talk about a whole plethora of hashtag categories, today it's been simplified to two types: 1) community and 2) branded.
According to Taylor Loren (Twitter @taylrn) of later.com**, a 'community hashtag' connects "like-minded users around a specific subject." The purpose of a community hashtag is spreading the reach of your message, notably to people outside of your existing network.
Some examples in the art world noted by writer Ben Davis (Twitter @benadavis) in an artnet.com*** piece include:
#artselfie (45k public posts on Instagram at the time of writing)
#askacurator (12k public posts on Instagram at the time of writing)
#partsofpaintings (40k public posts on Instagram at the time of writing)
Note that Ben doesn't note #art or #paintings, and the reason for this is that they're too general. I frequently compare narrowed-down community hashtags to keywords vs keyword phrases, which many people understand from search engine optimisation. A keyword that's general will get noticed by loads of people who aren't in your target demographic, from school kids to street cleaners. As Taylor Loren continues in her piece, the "narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users..."
Compare current results on Instagram between the following:
#streetart at 29 million (!)
While those are all big results, the hashtags referring to cities instead of just street art narrow down to folks looking for the genre where you're based or working. This means that the hashtag is likely to get noticed by an audience that will be relevant and therefore interested in why you're posting about street art in the vicinity.
The later.com article explains that this type of hashtag is "unique to your business." It can be as simple as your name, business name, tagline (including description of art / series), projects, conferences, art fairs, exhibitions and so on.
It's important to note that some of those are your own branded hashtags, while others are the branded hashtags of events you're attending or brands with which you're engaging.
A hashtag that I used starting on Twitter in 2010, #besmartaboutart, became a branded hashtag when the enterprise was born in 2012.
Some examples of branded hashtags in the art world include:
#MiamiArtWeek - annual event (26k public posts on Instagram at the time of writing)
#armoryweek - annual event (13.6k public posts on Instagram at the time of writing)
#artbusinessconference - bi-annual event (132 public posts on Instagram at the time of writing)
#delphinediallo - artist brand (600 public posts on Instagram at the time of writing)
#sadiecoles - gallerist brand (4k public posts on Instagram at the time of writing)
Taylor from Later adds that a branded hashtag might have nothing to do with your brand name, but everything to do with your brand identity. Taking myself as an example, this includes my self-proclaimed brand identity of #dixiebrit :-).
Help your social media posts get noticed by people you'd like to reach by using a combination of community and branded hashtags. The results are worth the effort, yo.
* Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hashtag
** Source: https://later.com/blog/ultimate-guide-to-using-instagram-hashtags/
** Source: https://news.artnet.com/market/art-hashtags-around-the-world-325584