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How Tourism Businesses can use Hashtags to Attract New Customers

By Rebecca White
Published on March 11, 2018

Our most commonly asked question when running social media training is “How do I use hashtags on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?”

So in this update we cover the what, why and how to use hashtags when sharing updates on these social media channels to help you attract new customers to your tourism business or region!

What is a hashtag?

If you aren’t familiar with hashtags, they are a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #.

Hashtags provide a way of grouping messages, having conversations and allowing people to search for a particular topic of interest on a social media channel such as Instagram.

Why use hashtags?

Reason 1. Find new customers.

When used correctly, hashtags are a fantastic way to get your awesome photos, videos and blogs in front of new ideal customers.

This works when people do a search for a particular hashtags, like #barossa on Instagram. The search brings up the most recent posts on that social media channel that is using the same hashtag.

If your content has that hashtag, and it is relevant and interesting to these new customers doing the search, then you could pick up a new follower and potential customer down the track.

Reason 2. Amplify your reach.

If you use campaign hashtags on a great photo you share on social media, such as #seeaustralia, or a destination #hashtag that your local destination marketing organization uses to collect and re-share photos on their social media pages, you have the potential to have your great photo picked up and shared out to their followers! This is fantastic free publicity for your tourism business.

 

What hashtags should you use?

There are many different hashtags you could use. What you choose will depend on your goal and the social media platform you are using it on.

Common hashtags include:

  • Destination specific: Such as #seeaustralia, #southaustralia, #margaretriver, #melbourne, #bondibeach
  • Campaigns: Usually defined by a destination marketing organisation, such as #restaurantaustralia, #nzmustdo
  • Events: Specific to an event and chosen by the event organiser, eg #adelaidefestival
  • Experiences: General categories such as #food, #wine, #nature, #wildlife

How do you claim a hashtag for your business?

Anyone can use any hashtag.

However, before you promote one to your guests to use, (which we highly recommend as its fantastic for free advocacy of your tourism brand), there are a few things you need to do.

  • Head to Instagram and search to see what #hashtags people are already using for your business. Shortlist a couple of them.
  • Then research each #hashtag, to make sure there isn’t too much spam being shared on the hashtag.
  • Also make sure it is easy to spell and remember.
  • Also check out what hashtags your local, state and national tourism organisations are using in their updates and collect content to reshare on their pages.

For example, Tourism Australia uses #restaurantaustralia and #seeaustralia currently to collect photos for their social media channels.

Also, when using a hashtag, dont leave any blank spaces, otherwise your hashtag wont be searchable.

• Correct : #melbourne
• Incorrect: # melbourne

How to use hashtags on different social media channels

So, now you have an understanding of the why and what of using hashtags, let’s look at how to use hashtags specifically on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

We use examples from Lachlan Swan, a digital influencer and friend of ours.

His strategic use of hashtags on these platforms has helped him grow large social media followings plus his beautiful photos are regularly shared on South Australian Tourism Commission and Tourism Australia’s social media channels.

Facebook

We dont recommend you use #hastags on Facebook Posts, except for a couple of occasions.

The reasons for this are:

  • People dont tend to search on Facebook via a #hashtag. Instead they discover new brands and business when they have been tagged in a friends posts.
  • Hashtags don’t look as engaging. When you add lots of hashtags to a post in Facebook, it can make a post look less interesting and non-engaging. And you want to avoid anything that makes customers not want to engage on Facebook (react, comment, share, click), as Facebook will think people are not interested in your posts which will impact your organic reach.

When to use hashtags on Facebook:

  • The only time we recommend you use hashtags on Facebook is if you are wanting your Facebook update seen, picked up, and re-shared as part of a campaign being run by another Facebook Page, such as your local destination marketing organisation.

The alternative to using #hashtags on Facebook if you want to reference another Page or Location, is to “tag” them. To do this, you just need to type in the @ sign before you type the Page name, and Facebook will bring up a selection of options for you to tag.

Instagram

Hashtags are where it is at on Instagram.

It’s the complete opposite to Facebook so you can go your hardest in using hashtags, as this is how people search and discover new content on Instagram.

Our tips for using hashtags on Instagram include:

  • Add 2 – 5 key hashtags under your main comment such as #yourlocation, #yourstate,  #relevantcampaigns, #experience. Then press enter a few times, and then add other relevant hashtags that relate to the image, your region, campaigns and themes. You can add up to 30 hashtags to any photo.
  • Tip: Do a google search for top Instagram Travel hashtags. Save a copy of your hashtags on your “notes” section on your smartphone so you can easily copy and paste them into your IG comments when you are sharing.
  • Learn more on using hashtags on Instagram and top hashtags for travel on Instagram.

Twitter

Space is limited with only 140 characters to write your tweets.

Therefore you don’t want to use up too many characters as #hashtag. Plus you also want to leave room if people re-tweet your image and add their own comments.

For Twitter we recommend

  • Use 1 – 3 relevant hashtags, such as your region, state or national hashtag.
  • Save space by make hashtags part of your tweet (not an addition to it).

Twitter how to use hashtags

Over to you.

What can you apply from this post to use hashtags to attract new customers on social media?


This post was first published in 2014 and was most recently updated in October 2018

Rebecca White

Rebecca is a tourism marketing specialist and co-director of Tourism eSchool. Rebecca loves working with tourism destinations & operators to create sustainable marketing strategies. Her specialty areas are tourism marketing strategy, visitor servicing, visitor engagement, social media, customer advocacy, customer experience, content marketing & blogging.

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  1. Jaci Hicken on at

    Thanks for the #hashtag info. So I’m doing what I must @jacican #mirboonorth #inspiredbygippsland. Thanks again, Jaci

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