Knowing how to use hashtags on social media allows you to quickly find specific information, join in on trends, or connect with online communities. Creating posts with effective hashtags is one of the best ways to deliver content to people who will care about it.
For healthcare professionals involved in social media marketing, using hashtags effectively is a balancing act: too many, and your posts look spammy and cluttered, too few, and you miss valuable opportunities to connect with patients and ideal potential patients in your community. In addition, keeping yourself current on trending hashtags takes a small daily effort.
But when you learn to use hashtags correctly in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts, it leads to increased engagement and visibility among patients and ideal potential patients in your area.
Using hashtags isn’t as complicated as it sounds, but there are some guidelines you should follow to avoid common pitfalls.
Mistake #1: Not Including Hashtags
A large portion of healthcare professionals don’t utilize hashtags simply because they’re not sure what they are or how to use them. It’s easy! A hashtag is simply a word, preceded by a pound sign (#), that categorizes social media posts into a topic.
For example, people posting their thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about today’s Lakers game might include #Lakers somewhere in their post. Then, anybody who wants to quickly check out the conversation about the game could simply search for or click on that hashtag and see all the posts that included it.
It makes it easy to join trending topics where your content will be seen by more people. Studies suggest that posts with fitting and popular hashtags get twice the interaction as posts without.
Even if there isn’t a trending hashtag to include, general hashtags that are relevant to your practice will help increase your posts’ visibility. Some examples of all-purpose hashtags for dentists might be #(the practice’s city), #dentist, #dentistry, or #dentalvisit.
Mistake #2: Including Too Many Hashtags
On the other end of the scale, having too many hashtags in a post is counterproductive as well. It makes your post look cluttered and spammy, and it distracts from the key message. Plus, on Twitter, you only have a limited number of characters to use. No matter the platform, limit yourself to three or fewer hashtags per post.
Mistake #3: Only Using “Fluff” Hashtags
A trendy (although not very effective) way of using hashtags is making one up just to add some “flavor” to a post — kind of like a funny post-script. For example, ending a post with something like #DrJonesIsTheBest or #WeTakeCareOfPatients. Sure, some of them are clever, but think about the purpose of hashtags: are you actually joining any conversations with hashtags like these, or is anybody ever going to actually search them? No.
Instead, choose hashtags that will actually help new patients find you. Along with the general-purpose tags like #(your area of healthcare) and #(your city name), find popular hashtags by browsing the trending topic lists of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Chime in with a post that includes the hashtag and relates the topic to your practice. This is an excellent way to get more interaction and grow your audience.
Help New Patients Find You With Smart Hashtags
When choosing which hashtags to include in your posts, try to think like ideal potential patients in your area. What topics and conversations would they be interested in? Which hashtags might they realistically search for on social media?
Create posts that show what makes your practice so great, and relate them to trending topics or the needs of potential patients by including appropriate hashtags. Patients and potential patients will see you participating in current conversations, keeping you at the top of their minds, and making them more likely to schedule an appointment or refer a friend.
To learn more about how to tackle social media, read our free guide.