In social media, hashtags are used to categorize certain posts and identify trending topics. They have been used for years on sites like Twitter, and have more recently been introduced on a wider array of platforms including social media giant Facebook. So just how popular are these hashtags? And are there any drawbacks to using them for increased visibility?
In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 10% of respondents said they often use hashtags in their social media posts. 21% said they sometimes use hashtags on social media. 16% said they rarely use hashtags. And 53% of social media users said they never include hashtags in their posts. Twitter users were 26% more likely to include hashtags in their posts. And Instagram users were 36% more likely to use hashtags. Use of hashtags seems to have increased just a bit over the past year. In a June 2013 survey, just 8% said they used hashtags in their social media posts often. 19% said they sometimes used hashtags. 18% rarely used them. And 54% never used them.
But using hashtags in posts isn’t the only way social media users can benefit from the feature. They can also be used to more easily search or browse particular topics. However, just 9% of social media users said they often use hashtags to browse or search topics. 15% said they sometimes browse social media sites using hashtags. 19% said they rarely do this. And 57% said they never do. Twitter and Instagram users were also more likely than Facebook users and the overall panel to use hashtags for browsing purposes. In the June 2013 survey, just 4% said they often used hashtags for browsing purposes. 17% sometimes used them for browsing. 21% rarely used them. And 59% never did.
Some social media users, particularly businesses or brands, can use hashtags to try and increase the visibility of their posts. However, just 11% of social media users said they are more likely to view or pay attention to posts that include hashtags. 66% said they are just as likely to pay attention to posts with hashtags as they are to pay attention to those without hashtags. And 23% said they are actually less likely to pay attention to posts that include hashtags.