With social media’s massive user base, one of the cleanest and easiest ways to be seen and discovered is through the proper use of hashtags. Done correctly, hashtags can put you in front of your target audience even if they have not connected with you before. They also go beyond casual userbase shortcuts by further boosting search engine optimization (SEO). What's not to love?
Hashtags label and categorize posts, helping bots to organize them into the search engine, and allowing anyone with those interests to easily encounter tagged content—either through the algorithm or because of a search that those selfsame bots organized. Hashtags can also create a sense of consistency or allow users to follow a very particular niche. With the former, followers may come to associate a certain hashtag with an event or post in which your firm uniquely engages. For the latter, if enough people in the industry use a specific hashtag, social media users can track or follow that hashtag.
Is the AEC Industry ready for hashtags? Is AEC-related social media different from other industries? How can you gain more AEC Industry followers through the use of industry specific hashtags? Well, read on. Here are four tips to help you reach your target audience, both current and new, through hashtags and SEO.
Know the difference between firm-specific and industry-specific hashtags. Firm-specific hashtags work best for existing followers and employees. Using a hashtag like “#MondayMockups” every Monday will create consistency for your established followers and create a sense of internal branding and camaraderie, but is unlikely to introduce you to new eyes. Someone searching for your services may not know to search for this term. However, an industry-specific search for “ArchitectureDesignCharrettes” might yield a broader base of potential clients and/or potential employees to find your firm if they are interested in unique design process ideas within the industry. Firm-specific hashtags strengthen current followers, whereas industry-specific hashtags increase SEO and expose new, potential clients to your firm.
Know which hashtags the rest of the industry is using. The goal is to make yourself easier to find for target audiences, and part of SEO is about establishing oneself in the greater network. This involves knowledge of the current framework. Curating individuality is for your aesthetic—not your hashtags. If other AEC firms are using “#AECconstruction” and you are using “#AEConst,” you are making yourself harder to find, not easier. Do your research.
Be selective. Too many hashtags will clutter posts and may seem contrived. Use the hashtags that will get you the best mileage. Using straightforward and logical hashtags will pull the algorithm in your favor and keep posts clean. For Instagram, the ideal number of hashtags is 5–9. For Twitter and Facebook, the ideal number is 2. LinkedIn prefers 3–5. While larger search engines may not micromanage to this level, the smaller search engines within each network add up tot he bigger picture—what's organized and findable on Twitter will likewise be more easily searchable on Google.
Know when to use them. Hashtag etiquette and functionality changes between platforms. Instagram allows users to follow hashtags—Twitter doesn’t, but it does allow users to save searches on web browsers, which are then accessible across platforms. Twitter recommends not using hashtags if a post is attempting to drive website traffic. The more hashtags present, the more likely someone will click away from a post into other corners of the internet.
Make the most of your face-to-face meetings! In your next marketing meeting, print out a list of posts you’ve made or plan to make, but strip away the hashtags. Let the team review each post and determine industry-specific hashtags to use. They should be niche-specific, popular across the AEC Industry, and catered to each platform.
Try #AEC hashtags and notice if you see an increase in followers and engagement. Remember that you must engage with others and their hashtags as well. #GoodLuck