Recently in an online chat we discussed the benefits of hashtags for promoting art. The whole hashtag system can seem perplexing. Why should we bother with them? Isn't it just cluttering up anything I am posting online?
The answer is "NO". It can in fact push awareness of your art to a much higher level.
Consider this. When I make a post on Twitter without a hashtag I can expect typically about 120 impressions with that post in the first few hours. This means the number of people that potentially viewed the post are 120. Now if I add a hashtag to that same post the numbers change. 200 impressions in the first few hours is easily achievable. Hashtags allow us a much broader audience who may interact with us. If you are posting your art then you want as high an interaction as you can get with potential viewers.
To hashtag pros the following information may seem rudimentary, but its surprising how many artists don't understand how it works. So here are some basics.
I use hashtags in a variety of ways. I use them to target types of audiences. For example say the piece of art I am promoting might appeal to certain groups of people, then I am going to hashtag something that will bring that group to the art. I had a piece a few years back that was a statement on the environment, so I made sure that I used a variety of hashtags that related directly to climate change.
These were just a few that I used at different times to promote the piece of art.
It does not have to be that complex. If its a painting or a photograph of a beach scene at sunset then you could use:
The more creative you get the narrower your audience becomes. So keep it broad at first. You can always narrow in later.
I also use hashtags to track specific pieces of work. I will use an ID number as a hashtag so that a person who wants to see all posts related to that piece of art can do so easily. #GCSArt100 is a typical example.
I will also use a moniker for my business name. I use #GCS for Grey Cross Studios. If your artist name is John Doe, then always hashtag #JohnDoe so that people can find all posts related to you. But be cautious. If you have a common name then use something to differentiate it from other posts that may use the same tag. For example #ArtistJohnDoe or #JohnDoeChicagoArt would work.
Geography is also another excellent hashtag use. If I am posting about an upcoming show I will use the location of that show as the hashtag. #NewYorkCity or #NYC.
And don't forget the use of hashtagging the type of art it might be. #watercolor #sculpture #charcoal, etc can all be effective in drawing collectors of that particular type of art directly to you.
Now there are some times when hashtags can be overused. I believe most experts say that the rule is three hashtags for a typical post so that you don't overuse them. I agree with this. If your so totally cluttered with hashtags that you lose the main message of your post then it becomes ineffective.
There are some places where hashtags are little used. For example Facebooks hashtag system is crappy. Users on that social network seem "hashtag dumb" or something. Where a good hashtag should draw Facebook users to your posts, what more likely occurs is absolutely nothing.
Some internal social networks seem to have very little use for them. But if you make them a habit then regardless of whether people respond to them, adding them can only help and never hinder.
A word of warning though. Don't overuse particular tags for unrelated posts. For example if you use the tag #art then make sure your post relates to art. If its a post about taking your cat to the vet and you used #art because...well your an artist! So why not! Then this will just piss people off.
Lastly, don't forget that there are a lot of people that monitor specific hashtags for information. I regularly check a variety of tags to see what might show up.
Be creative. Your an artist, use your creativity to its maximum to help make your work become well known. Above all don't get frustrated. It can take a long time to develop a following. It takes much more than just hashtags. But using them along with other tools can make a difference.