In this article, I explain how hashtags on LinkedIn work. I also share a specific example of how people in commercial real estate can use hashtags to make their posts more relevant to their target audience, thereby increasing their reach and generating more leads.
Content marketing has been a strategy I've used to build awareness for my new business, CRE Success. I also used it as a commercial real estate agent to build my profile in the past.
LinkedIn is the main channel I use. Therefore, I have spent time learning about LinkedIn, and how hashtags on the platform actually work.
Recently, I have seen more people using hashtags incorrectly. So, it's time to share what I've discovered, partly through trial and error, but also by listening to experts.
Warning: you can decrease your content's reach on LinkedIn by using hashtags incorrectly.
Unlike on other platforms, hashtags on LinkedIn should be used sparingly; the consensus is three to four hashtags per post. You will likely only "trend" in the first three. The fourth can be a hashtag that you use to categorise your own content.
Also, for hashtag usage to be effective, you need to make sure every hashtag is one that people are following and that it is relevant for your audience (except for the fourth one, which you can use a directory for your content and potentially to grow your own channel).
There is no point in making up a random hashtag that no one is following or that you only use once!
At the other end of the spectrum, there is also little point in using a hashtag that is popular, but is not really relevant to your audience.
For example, #CRE is one I use regularly. It is relevant to commercial real estate professionals, which is my target audience. It also has 20,500+ followers, so there is a chance that my content will be spotted by people outside my network.
#commercialrealestate is even better: it currently has 71,900+ followers. So I use that one too.
The more popular the hashtag, the likelier it is that people will use it. If you have a piece of content that takes off, then it has a chance of trending in the hashtags you’ve used – which, if you use one which has a lot of followers, could lead to a lot more people seeing it!
As mentioned above, you can strategically use your own narrow hashtags to grow a channel. For example, #cresuccess is one I’ve started using to promote my new business. Hardly anyone is following this (yet), but if I use it consistently, it’s a way to catalogue my content and hopefully grow a following.
On the other hand, if I just decided one day to use, say, #creadvice just once - because the content is advice for the CRE sector - but then never use it again, there would be no point. This type of hashtag use is a common mistake. It seems like a good idea at the time, but since no one is following that hashtag, it’s not going to create more reach for that piece of content or serve a later purpose (like cataloguing).
At the other end of the spectrum: I have also used #success in posts in the past, but I’m less inclined to use it now – it has 573,500+ followers, so it is even harder to trend in, and even if I did have a piece of content trending in that hashtag, how many of the people who see it would I be relevant for? Probably not many, so I’m better off being more specific with hashtags, given the consensus that using a limited number of hashtags is favoured by LinkedIn’s algorithm - or that you only have the potential to trend in the first three that you use.
Here's a practical example: let's say I'm in Brisbane and I have completed a workplace strategy project with a law firm. If I want to showcase the work I've done to demonstrate my capability to a relevant audience beyond my own network, three good hashtags could be: #legal (72,000+ followers) #Brisbane (5,600+ followers) and #workplace (11,900+ followers).
I would be happy to trend in any one of those.
If I trended in legal, I would potentially be seen by prospects in the legal sector, who I (or my company) can do more work for. If I trended in Brisbane, I would potentially be seen by prospects in the geography I already work in. And if I trended in workplace, I would potentially be seen by people interested in workplace capability and trends, which if nothing else would help me grow my network and profile in my niche.
Conversely, using something like #brisbanelegal in this example would be a waste of time, because no one is following it. If you search brisbanelegal on LinkedIn, you can see it has actually been used as a hashtag 83 times. However, given no one is following it, this hashtag will not help your post get more organic reach. So, even though it seems like a creative and relevant hashtag, it doesn't actually serve a purpose.
With the growing number of eyeballs on content platforms like LinkedIn, and more people sharing updates, it makes sense to get these little things right! When sharing content, relevance to your target audience is key, so remember to use your hashtags on LinkedIn sparingly and strategically.
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