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To Hash or Not To Hash. That's really not the question(?)



There is been a LOT of confusion and debate on the use and misuse of hashtags here on LinkedIn. So much discussion. So many opinions. So many hashtags to consider. So why are you confused? 


Ok, that one was rhetorical. It is confusing. I have a spreadsheet where I copied and pasted hashtags for years; sorted them and categorized them and quantified them. Why? Well, I wanted to optimize my posts and get my face out there as much as possible. I chased that dragon for years only to find it was a white rabbit. Basically a useless pursuit. 


When it comes to hashtags -- by the way, if you don't know, hashtags are those blue links at the bottom of posts here on LinkedIn that look like "#hiimahashtag". Its meant to focus your post to those interested in that content. Kinda like Facebook or Instagram...or even Twitter/X (whatever).


Most will put hashtags at the bottom, some will put them inline with the post. Doesn't really matter. In fact as I am reading, it hashtags don't really make that much of a difference. Sure they can, and some do, but overall in terms of organic distribution, not so much. 


I encourage you to find, download and read JustConnecting's Algorithm Insights 2024 (I wish I had a link). On page 52, there is a fantastic explanation of what hashtags can and can't do. Here's an excerpt:


"In the ever-changing ecosystem of LinkedIn™ , hashtags have been a late bloomer. Independent research over the past three years has consistently found that using 3 to 5 hashtags is optimal, a practice LinkedIn™ itself endorsed in its official communications. 


However, our latest findings indicate shifts in this trend


  • Presently, the presence of hashtags in posts does not significantly boost reach, with 4 hashtags providing a modest 9% increase in median reach. Only beyond 20 hashtags does the potential for detriment emerge, possibly triggering spam alerts.

  • LinkedIn™ maintains a database of associated hashtags, meaning a hashtag like #SocialSelling will also expose you to related content, such as #Sales.

  • In practice, hashtagged content rarely surfaces in the initial sweep of the organic feed—only after scrolling through 30 posts might you see a 15% increase in their occurrence.

  • While searchable, hashtags in comments don’t seem to affect a post’s reach.

  • The positioning of hashtags within the content—mid-text or at the end, in a vertical or horizontal line—has no discernible impact on engagement.

  • Interestingly, hashtags listed in your profile when using Creator Mode no longer boost your post’s reach, a departure from 2021 where they could increase reach by 8%.

  • For now the first 2-3 hashtags are still included in the URL of your post, hinting at their significance for search engine discoverability (SEO)."


(ALGORITHM INSIGHTS 2024 - V.0.1 p52/53, JustConnecting)


There's more to this and you really should read this if you are using hashtags in LinkedIn to boost your content. Not saying you shouldn't, but you should understand the ramifications of hashtag use. 


One thing did stand out:

"Hashtags now contribute less to content categorization, as LinkedIn™ ’s algorithms have evolved to comprehend the full context and expertise demonstrated in a post."


Followed by a statement that said despite the lack of impact, LinkedIn still advises use of hashtags in certain types of content. That said, using them isn't a bad idea, but may not be the best tool in the box.


Look, I'm no expert which is why I am reading this report. Please go and download it and read it. Again, I wish I had the link. It was a bit of a pain to find, but I did and have it. Make your own decisions on hashtags based on their finding. 


Enjoy!

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