Three weeks ago, in ‘Hashtags on Popular Social Media Sites: The Ultimate Guide,’ I explained how to best use hashtags on the most popular social media sites. I discussed LinkedIn, but as with Facebook, it stands out in hashtag use. It seems like hashtags on LinkedIn are almost not done. The tip I found was: place hashtags at the end of your update, keeping your main message clean without the distraction.
I have been following this practice for ages, but in this blog post, I want to know why and how much hashtags contribute to brands’ posts on LinkedIn. Below, I examine hashtag use on LinkedIn by looking at research and expert opinions.
The short history of hashtags on LinkedIn
As David Hartshorne says, hashtags have had a topsy-turvy ride on the LinkedIn platform. A few years back they were present but LinkedIn “rolled it back due to a poor user response.”
In 2016, they were available on the mobile app only: “Hashtags included in your posts (or others) are now tappable and lead to search results so that you can discover other posts with the same hashtag.”
Then, in 2017, hashtags reappeared on the desktop platform as part of the new user interface. But still, nobody knew what they were supposed to do or how to use them.
By early 2018, reports surfaced of some users being ‘forced’ to insert hashtags into their posts. LinkedIn confirmed they were running a beta test “to understand better the value of using hashtags in posts to help members discover and join relevant conversations.”
But now, it is safe to say that LinkedIn hashtags are back and working. I understand that you may be confused about hashtag use on LinkedIn, so here is how you can make the most of them.
Hashtags on LinkedIn: how do they work?
Hashtags on LinkedIn categorize content. They help users find content on a specific topic. And, if you add hashtags to your content, they will help you get discovered by other users, including those not connected to you. From a marketing perspective, making your LinkedIn content available to a broader audience is the winner.
Hashtags on LinkedIn: do they work on profiles and company pages?
Hartshorne discusses an interesting part of hashtag use on LinkedIn. He says that you can add hashtags to LinkedIn Profiles and Company Pages, but that they do not behave in the same way. They are not searchable, and they do not highlight as a blue clickable link, which makes them a non-tagged keyword. For his examples of how hashtags work here, read his article (link previously mentioned).
How to use hashtags on LinkedIn
As mentioned, there are two sides to using hashtags on LinkedIn:
- Finding relevant hashtags to follow so that you can join a conversation.
- Adding relevant hashtags to your content, so more people can discover you.
Below, several steps are explained to make sure you know all the ways you can use hashtags on LinkedIn.
· How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn posts/status updates
At the top of the homepage, click into the ‘Share an article, photo, video or idea’ field to write your post content. Add hashtags – using the # symbol – in the body of your post or at the end of the message.
· How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn articles/Pulse
From the homepage, click ‘Write an article’ under the status update field. You can include hashtags in the body or at the end of your article, like the post update above. When you have finished writing your article, click ‘Publish’ in the top right corner. A pop-up window will appear. In the ‘Tell your network what your article is about’ field, you can add a short intro about the article including relevant hashtags. Please note that you cannot edit or remove hashtags after you have published your article.
· How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn comments
You can also add hashtags when you comment on a post or an article. It is another way of reinforcing your topic and makes it discoverable.
· How to find new hashtags on LinkedIn
LinkedIn lets you find and follow hashtags on the topics you are interested in. Start by entering the topic you would like to find in the Search bar at the top of the page. For example, when you type #digitalmarketing, you get a list of digital marketing related hashtags.
Select a hashtag from the list of suggestions to see content related to the hashtag topic in your feed. Click the ‘Follow’ button at the top of the page to add the hashtag topic to your list.
· How to manage the hashtags you follow
You can manage the hashtags you follow from your LinkedIn homepage. On the left-hand side is a section called ‘Your communities’ that contains ‘Pinned’ (hashtags), ‘Hashtags’ (non-pinned), and ‘Groups.’ In the ‘Pinned’ and ‘Hashtags’ sections, LinkedIn displays up to three hashtags with options to see more. Click ‘Show more’ to expand the list and display more of the hashtags you are following. Click ‘See all’ to show the full list of hashtags you are currently following and change what you want pinned and unpinned.
At the bottom of the ‘Your communities’ menu, click on the ‘Discover more’ link to reveal more hashtags that might be of interest. Click the ‘+ Follow’ link to start following a new hashtag from the list. Please note that LinkedIn displays the number of followers so you can see how popular a hashtag is.
However, the best management view of your hashtags comes via the summary page. You can see what hashtags you are following, and choose to unfollow any if you wish. Underneath are several sections of suggested hashtags you may wish to follow, including popular in your industry, related to your interests, based on your recent activity, people in your community are interested in, people in your community follow and recommended for you. It is a hidden gem.
Tips for optimizing hashtags on LinkedIn
Now you know how to manage your hashtags on LinkedIn, follow these tips to make the most of every time you use hashtags on this platform.
1. Make sure your hashtags are visible
There is no point using a hashtag if you are operating in private mode on LinkedIn. Check your profile settings to make sure it is public to everyone. If not, your content (including hashtags) will not get discovered.
2. Determine which hashtags to use
Danielle McFadden says that you will need to find hashtags that align with your LinkedIn marketing and the interests of your ideal audience before you begin adding hashtags to your LinkedIn posts and articles. Do some additional research.
A good place to start is to see which hashtags the influencers in your niche are using. Pay attention to who is using the hashtag and how they use it in tandem with their content. Before adding any hashtag to your strategy, it is important to verify the hashtag’s popularity and contextual meaning.
3. Combine hashtags with your message
It is always best to add at least one sentence to your post rather than using only hashtags. Even when you post an image or video, Hartshorne thinks you should add a short sentence along with your hashtags. A wave of hashtags with no context looks spammy. He mentions that LinkedIn’s algorithm stops irrelevant, low-quality, and spammy content from reaching a user’s feed so be warned.
Katie Sehl agrees. She urges you not to leave your hashtags hanging. Even if you are sharing an image or video, hashtags are no substitute for stellar copy. Your posts should always include at least one line of descriptive copy and include a call-to-action.
4. Do not use too many hashtags
There is no limit to how many hashtags you can add to your content. However, if you use too many, your post will look spammy. Best practice suggests that three hashtags are plenty.
Sehl says: “Always remember the goal of your post, and use hashtags to facilitate them, not compete with them.”
5. Place hashtags sensibly
You can place hashtags in your message or at the end, but do not hashtag every word. Write your message first and then see if it makes sense to convert a word into a hashtag, or add a hashtag at the end. Do not tag words that are not important. Remember to use a hashtag to categorize your post.
6. Format your hashtags
LinkedIn defaults to lowercase when it displays hashtags. Still, it is considered a good practice to use capitals at the start of each word, so it is easier for people to decipher. Also, abbreviated acronym hashtags are not standard on LinkedIn. For example, on Twitter the common acronym for #SocialMediaMarketing is #SMM, but LinkedIn prefers the full version.
Also, as Sehl reminds us, like hashtags elsewhere, Linkedin hashtags can only include letters, numbers, and emoji. Any spaces or symbols used within the tag will break the link. That means no apostrophes, commas, exclamation points or hyphens.
7. Create your own hashtags
Creating a custom hashtag is an excellent way to build your brand across all social platforms. It makes it easy for followers to identify and connect with you. There is another advantage too. Custom hashtags help you track shares of your LinkedIn posts. If you search for your own hashtags, you can see when people share your posts. Shares are not always easy to see, so this is a good way to track them.
8. Do not use hashtags for mentions
Both Hartshorne and Sehl think that if you want to reference an individual or a company, you should use the @mention functionality rather than a hashtag. If you are trying to tag a company or person, tagging them with the @ symbol followed by their name is a better way to get their attention. Plus, that means you can focus on keyword hashtags instead.
9. Consider location-based hashtags
Over 70 percent of LinkedIn users live outside of the United States. If your post or article is about a certain region, it could be worthwhile to add a destination hashtag.
10. Use event hashtags
As Sehl says, many professionals use LinkedIn to network before, during, and after industry conferences and events. These days most events have hashtags. Use an event hashtag to signal your company’s presence or involvement – whether virtual or in person.
11. Test your hashtags
Record what hashtags you have used on each post and see which ones bring the most engagement.
Sehl recommends LinkedIn Analytics to identify which of your posts and articles have performed the best. What hashtags did you include? If a certain hashtag is frequently found in your top posts, that one may be a keeper.
12. Record your hashtags on LinkedIn for future use
Recording your LinkedIn hashtags is a good idea. You can organize them by category or popularity, and keep track of campaign hashtags or timely hashtags. Doing this will help you save time in the long run.
Popular hashtags on LinkedIn
Here are some hashtags that are popular on LinkedIn. Sehl and Dayne Shuda have listed these.
- General: #Mindfulness, #Creativity, #Leadership, #Innovation, #Management, #Motivation, #Tips, #Productivity, #Careers, #GettingThingsDone, #Work, #Office, #Success, #Quotes, #Inspiration, #Life, #Love, #Happy, #HR, #Leadership, #Influencer, #Successful, #Worklife, #Officelife
- Social media and marketing: #AdvertisingAndMarketing, #Branding, #KnowYourSocial, #SocialNetworking, #SocialMedia, #SocialMediaMarketing, #SocialMediaAdvertising, #DigitalMarketing, #ContentMarketing, #OnlineAdvertising, #Marketing, #Sales
- Small business and entrepreneurship: #Business, #BusinessIntelligence, #SmallBusiness, #Entrepreneur, #Entrepreneurship, #SocialEntrepreneurship
- Women on LinkedIn: #WomenInBusiness, #WomenOfLinkedIn, #WomenInScience, #ProfessionalWomen
- Personal networking tags: #Networking, #LetsWork, #WhatInspiresMe, #ONO (= Open to new opportunities), #PersonalDevelopment, #PersonalBranding, #Jobs
Hashtags on Facebook
I hope this has given you a bit more confidence regarding hashtags on LinkedIn. I recommend incorporating your LinkedIn hashtag use into your company’s social media marketing strategy.