In this blog series, Hashin’ It Out, we’re breaking down best practices for using hashtags across the social media landscape. So far we’ve covered Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Today, we’re tackling Google+ hashtags.
As you’ve learned in the series so far, hashtags can be used on multiple platforms, but the use case does differ slightly on each one. It’s important to understand how they work on each network to make sure you are using them to their full potential, and most importantly, look like a true social media pro.
A big difference with hashtags on Google+ compared to other platforms is that while more than one or two hashtags can seem spammy elsewhere, it works on Google+—in fact, best practice is to include three. You can add more than three, but the first three affect how your post appears when users browse the hashtag. Make sure the one you deem more important is listed first.
Another difference is that while hashtags are often used ironically (#hashtagproblems) to add a little personality to tweets, the practice won’t be successful on Google+. Hashtags have to be relevant in order to be effective.
Here’s where the relevance factor comes into play. Google+ will automatically add hashtags to your posts if it thinks that they are relevant—and from our experience they’re usually pretty spot on. (But if they’re not don’t worry, you can delete them. Just hover over the hashtag and you’ll see a X appear to the right.)
These added hashtags display differently from the ones you add yourself. Check out this example from uberVU’s Google+ page. Our post was about social media fails and we added #FAIL within the text. As you can see on the top right, our hashtag shows up first and then below it Google+ has added its own hashtags—#SocialMedia and #Branding.
Navigating through these added hashtags work a bit differently than you might expect. When you click on one the post you’re viewing flips around to display related posts. When I clicked on #SocialMedia in the example above it displayed the following.
You can then use the navigation arrows on the top to flip through the posts. Below the highlighted hashtag you’ll see an “also related” field. These are related hashtags that have been used in posts along with the hashtag you’ve clicked on. Chances are your competitors’ content will show up in this view at some point so it’s important to focus on creating quality titles and images to attract a user to click on your post rather than browsing past it.
If you click on a hashtag listed within a post (#FAIL in our original example) or you click on the hashtag in the flipped post (#SocialMedia in the second example) you’re brought to a landing page displaying all posts with that hashtag. The landing page is organized by “best of” posts and “most recent” and you can choose how you want to view it. Google+ doesn’t provide much information on how to get your posts to appear under “best of” but most guess it’s due to engagement. So, be mindful that you’re sharing quality content so people will want to engage with it. Timing is also important. Research when your audience is most engaged and post at those times to ensure your content will appear on the top of the “most recent” page when they’re most likely to be on Google+.