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Hashtag guide for Academics: What, Why, and How many

Hashtag guide for Academics

Social media has revolutionized academia for those who have embraced it. What was once a very solitary profession can now be as interactive and open as you want it to be.

If you are trying to build your authority, share your expertise, or expand your network then utilising relevant, targeted hashtags is the easiest way to get discovered by new people.

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a tag used on social media making it easy for others to find content with a specific theme or idea. It is a word that is proceeded by the # symbol. Hashtags work by organising and categorising posts.

Hashtag was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2010.

Screen shot of hashtag definition from Oxford dictionary.

Why use hashtags?

Using hashtags can increase your reach (the number of people who see your posts) and engagement (the number of people that interact with your posts). Hashtags help your posts get discovered by people interested in seeing it. Using the right hashtags gets your post in front of the right people. Using too many hashtags makes your content spammy and degrades your personal brand. Using incorrect hashtags isn’t as bad however it isn’t going to help you build your network and authority.

Research by Twitter showed that using hashtags results in a 50 per cent increase in engagement compared to accounts that don’t. Hubspot found that tweets that use hashtags are 55 per cent more likely to be retweeted.

Instagram posts with one or more hashtags has on average 12.6% more engagement than posts that do not use any hashtags.

Screen shot of THe Leveraged PhD Instagram Insights showing reach from hashtags

How many hashtags should I use?

Maximum possibleBest Practice
TwitterUnlimited (limited by space)1-2
FacebookUnlimited0-1
Instagram303-20

Tips for getting the most out of hashtags

  • While there is no difference between #theleveragedphd and #TheLeveragedPhD hashtag from a search perspective, using capitalisation on your hashtags will mean that users can read them easier.
  • Use hashtags that are within your reach. Using a hugely popular hashtag when you only have 1k followers and low engagement will just mean that you’ll get lost in the millions of posts on that hashtag. Choose specific, and targeted hashtags with smaller volume to compete against fewer posts and to reach your target audience.
  • Research hashtags. You can do this on the social media site (Instagram, Twitter), checking out what others in your area use (just head over to their profile and check out their recent posts) or using an external tool. If you want a list of common hashtags used by academics check out these two posts of mine. Academic Hashtags for Twitter and Academic Hashtags for Instagram
  • Keep your hashtags organised. Create a word document on your computer or a section in your phone’s notes page so you can cut and paste them into your posts without wasting time every post.
  • Hashtags alone won’t instantly expand your network so make sure you dedicate time to nourish your network. If you are feeling bogged down with social media check out this post on how to manage Twitter in 10 minutes a day.
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