Dr. Darryl Glover and Dr. Jennifer Lyerly: To Hashtag, Or Not to Hashtag

What you don’t know about this funny little symbol could hurt you.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 edition of INVISION.

If you’re not tagging keywords in your social media accounts, you could be missing out on the best way for potential patients to find you.

Using a hashtag before the word you want to highlight is how most social media platforms make that word searchable to its users. For example, if you type the word optometry in your post you won’t be seen by someone searching “optometry,” but if you type #optometry you will.

As a result, many rookie social media users are tempted to start hashtagging every word in their post to increase their chance of being found via search. But did you know that using hashtags could actually decrease the chance that someone will read, share, or like your post? Depending on the platform you are using, hashtags could actually hurt your brand.

Here’s what you need to know:

Facebook: Search algorithms for Facebook respond to hashtags too, but they aren’t necessary for your post to get found via search. If you type “optometry” or “#optometry,” your post will appear either way. What’s more, studies show Facebook users are less likely to share or like your post if you use more than one or two hashtags.

Take home: Skip the hashtags on Facebook unless you are linking up with a community event or have created a personal brand hashtag for an event of your own.

For example, National Sunglasses Day had a large social media impact this year. By hashtagging #NationalSunglassesDay on your Facebook post, you connect your post to the event and encourage your followers to get involved by tagging their own posts.

Instagram: Hashtags are the only way to make your post searchable on Instagram, so they are vital to your success at finding new followers. But again, no one likes to see a big chunk of hashtags when they are scrolling through posts. Instead, hide your hashtags in the comment section of your post. Here’s how: Choose up to 50 hashtags (they allow that many, but are more than 20 are really worthwhile to your brand?) and write them down in the notes app of your phone or tablet. After a new Instagram post, copy and paste your list of hashtags as a comment below it. This will effectively hide your excessive hashtag usage and make your posts more aesthetically pleasing.

Take home: How your post looks matters; in fact it’s the only thing that matters on Instagram. It’s a photo sharing app after all. To get you started, tagging your posts with the classics like #optometry, #glasses, #eyes, #eyeexam, etc will immediately get you started on building followers.

Twitter:The best way to utilize Twitter is to hashtag the essential topics in your tweet.

Twitter search is driven by hashtags, linking your post to any other conversation about the topic. This increases the chance others will find you and “retweet” your posts to their followers (which is the ultimate point). Using optometry hashtags like #optometry, #eyeexam or #contactlens will likely increase the chance other industry members will interact with you, but if you want local patients to interact with your accounts you need to think like a patient. Using #shoplocal and #[your city] will engage local searches and make you more visible to your target audience. Following local newspaper and community twitter accounts will alert you to the trending topics in your city so you can link your posts with trending local hashtags and engage your target patient base.

Founded by two millennial ODs and social media entrepreneurs, Defocus Media manages social media networks for independent optical practices. Dr. Darryl Glover is an optometrist, community leader and founder of Eye See Euphoria (eyeseeeuphoria.com) and Dr. Jennifer Lyerly is the founder of Eyedolatry (eyedolatryblog.com), a media platform dedicated to patient friendly and doctor approved ocular health advice and industry news. For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..