How to use Hashtags on LinkedIn for Marketing 

Hashtags are coming on as a means to easily find content on LinkedIn. You just enter the hashtagged word or phrase in the search box on LinkedIn and away you go. 

But as usual with LinkedIn there is a secret rule you need to know about. 

LinkedIn recommends you use up to three hashtags, and they even emphasize three as the best number. LinkedIn has also specifically stated that more than three hashtags on a post or article will “hinder it’s distribution.” And when LinkedIn is doing the distribution that means those posts are literally going nowhere. 

And although they don’t say you will be rewarded, when LinkedIn says they recommend you use three, I take that as meaning content with three will be rewarded. 

Now there is something else to take into consideration here. If you have technical content where, say, fifteen different hashtags could be used, there is nothing to say you can’t use them. Just don’t expect any real distribution of that post from LinkedIn. But people can still find the post using a search for hashtags. 

So how should you decide what hashtags to use? Here are the steps I recommend:

  1. Make a list of all the hashtags you think would work
  2. Enter each one in turn in the search bar and search for it. If it is a popular hashtag, LinkedIn will show the number of people following it. 
  3. Go to posts and articles using these hashtags and see what else the authors are using – there may be ones applicable to you that you have not thought of. 
  4. Make a list of popular hashtags and the number of followers each one has. Check the list a month from now, then a month later to see what is rising and falling in popularity. 
  5. If there is a hashtag that you think your prospects would use, then by all means use it even if no one else is. 

Most LinkedIn users and companies using LinkedIn are not organized in their use of hashtags. You can be and can get an advantage over them.

What LinkedIn says and what the reality is: Publishing 

Let’s look at a few of the things LinkedIn says, what most people think it means and what it really means. Today we will look at publishing on LinkedIn. 

You publish a post or article on LinkedIn. LinkedIn tells you that your followers will  have the opportunity to see your post or article. 

What most people think that means: Say you have one thousand connections. You think one thousand connections will see you have posted. 

What it really means: some of your connections will have the opportunity to see your post. Maybe. 

Reality part 1: 

The reality is that when you publish on LinkedIn, LinkedIn puts your content in the news feed of 5-10% of connections. In the case above, that’s fifty to one hundred of them. The more people that engage with your post in the first sixty minutes, the more additional connections LinkedIn will put your content in front of. 

Reality part 2: 

When LinkedIn puts your content in front of your connections, that means it simply appears in their news feed. They don’t have to see it there to count as a view. It’s like you open a newspaper to read an article on page 5. Everything on those two pages you have opened – pages four and five – would be considered as being “viewed” by LinkedIn’s definition, because you could have viewed them if you had only looked around. Note also that there is a big difference between “viewed” and “read” too. 

Reality part 3: 

LinkedIn likes to talk about your followers. You likely have none, or at best a handful. Unless you are an influencer or someone who writes a lot, it is unlikely you have any followers aside from your connections. 

Reality part 4: 

Except in rare instances, LinkedIn does not notify your connections or followers that you have published something. 

The bad news is that your content isn’t going as far as you think it is. The good news is that given your connections have a lot lower probability of seeing your content in the first place, your engagement is a lot better than you think it is. 

Choosing Which LinkedIn Group(s) To Join

Due diligence comes first.
While a LinkedIn Group may look perfect for you, always do a little bit of extra research as it may save you a lot of aggravation later. Here are the things you should look for:
Group description. The description will give you clues as to what the purpose of the group is. Sometimes the description doesn’t match the group name.
Group rules. This will tell you how the group owner expects the group to behave. Whether the owner and his or her moderators actually enforce those rules is another matter altogether.
Group owner and managers. You can click on these people’s names, so do so. Find out who they work for. This will give you clues as to their motivation for being involved with this group. Groups owned and run by your competitors will probably not be glad to see you. Don’t invest your time in building visibility in a place where your welcome is uncertain.
And one that doesn’t mean as much as you think:
Number of members. This is a double edged sword. A large group will have more potential people to reach, but it will be more difficult to be heard above all the other people starting discussions. It is not uncommon for some of the really large groups to have hundreds of posts a day.
LinkedIn Groups have fallen on hard times the past couple of years. An ugly combination of group admin indifference, ham handed management by LinkedIn, and spammy users has resulted in a bad reputation for LinkedIn Groups. However, there are some absolute gems out there, typically groups where the owner is the main admin and heavily involved in the day to day discussions in the group. Two well run groups that I am a member of are “Step Into The Spotlight!” a group for marketing and branding and “Sales Playbook!” a group all about sales. The two owners have completely different styles but manage to run groups with multiple ongoing discussion threads.
These two groups are examples of what well run groups can be like. Unfortunately, they are the exception rather than the rule.