Hashtag: a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign, used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic.

At this point, anyone fluent in social media knows what hashtags are, but that doesn’t mean that you’re always using them to your best advantage. Hashtags, while potentially useful to boosting the amount of people that see and interact with your post, are not always helpful if they’re not being used correctly. Here are a few tips to taking advantage of hashtags and what they can do for your social media presence:

1. Use relevant hashtags

Make sure that you are using hashtags that have to do with your account, business and posts. Just because a hashtag is popular and could potentially get your page more traffic, it’s not worth it in the long run. You want to make sure you are getting seen by people who care about what you’re selling and you also don’t want to be flagged by Instagram or Twitter for using any hashtags improperly.

2. Test your hashtags

Sometimes, hashtags just don’t work and can be the reason your posts aren’t doing as well. Occasionally, posts with certain hashtags can get censored, and won’t show up on peoples timeline unless they’re your followers. A good way to test to make sure your posts are showing up when you search for specific hashtags, is to search for said hashtag through an account that is not following your business account (i.e. a friend, family member or your own personal account).

3. Use popular hashtags

Whenever possible, try and work in popular hashtags to relevant posts. This can help to boost traffic to your page and potentially even gain more followers. A few examples of popular hashtags are: #mondaymotivation, #tbt, #giveaway, #photooftheday and more.

Pro Tip: Finding a way to include these hashtags in some of your posts can also help to give you some new content ideas!

4. Create your own hashtag

Having a hashtag that is specific to your brand, can help people to find your content easily when they simply search for your unique hashtag. It can also be a great way to engage followers to share pictures of their experiences with your business, by using your own individual hashtag.

Keep in mind that, yes, it’s great to use popular hashtags, but use them sparingly, because your own post could get lost in the shuffle. Also remember that you can now follow hashtags on Instagram, which could potentially allow your content to reach a wider variety of people, depending on the hashtags you use. Bottom line – hashtags are just another piece to the social media puzzle, and it’s important that you make sure you’re using them correctly and to your advantage.