YouTube hashtags feature is aimed at increasing discoverability of videos and allowing viewers an alternative way to find related content. Just like on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, hashtags on YouTube are clickable. It shows all the videos that carry the same hashtag, giving viewers a chance to browse other related videos they might like.
First introduced on YouTube in 2016, the new and improved hashtag function features a small but noticeable change: up to three hashtags are now prominently displayed above the video title. Previously, hashtags were only visible in video descriptions.
The search and discovery function of YouTube hashtags can be divided into:
- Clicking on hashtags to find related videos that use the same hashtag
- Typing the hashtag into the search field to find videos containing the hashtag
Creating communities, categorizing content
YouTube is not just a search engine, but it is also a community.
The use of hashtags on YouTube creates an added way for viewers to find content. It allows creators to classify their videos based on their branding (e.g., #UnderArmour) and highly-searched terms (e.g., #fashiontips).
At the same time, it also functions as a tool to categorize content (e.g., music genre, cuisine types, etc.) and creation of communities through branded hashtags (e.g., Nike’s #YouCanDoIt) and trending campaigns (e.g., #MeToo movement).
What is a hashtag?
Hashtags were first used and popularized by the microblogging platform, Twitter. Formed by a word and phrases preceded by the pound (#) sign, hashtags are clickable and act as an alternative search and categorization function. They show users related content or conversations that are tagged by specific hashtags.
How to add YouTube hashtags to your video?
When creators upload a video, they can either add hashtags to the title or description. YouTube will pull up to three hashtags from the description box to display above the video title. Meanwhile, hashtags that are added to titles are shown as part of the title.
YouTube hashtags dos and don’ts
Like any content uploaded on YouTube, even hashtags will need to adhere to the platform’s Community Guidelines. To ensure that your hashtags are functional and will not be flagged by YouTube, follow these simple instructions:
- There should be no spaces in a hashtag. For example, type #howtocook, instead of #how to cook.
- Don’t include more than 15 hashtags in your description, or else YouTube will flag it for over-stuffing.
- Only include hashtags that are directly related to your video.
- Avoid using words and phrases that can go against YouTube’s Community Guidelines.
How do YouTube hashtags work?
Hashtags function the same way across all social media platforms, except for YouTube:
- Hashtags are used on Twitter to showcase and track viral topics in certain countries or around the world.
- Instagram posts can incorporate multiple hashtags which help to increase visibility to users.
For YouTube, on the other hand, hashtags are another method for viewers to search for related videos. For example, if you are a fan of football and looking for the latest World Cup results, you may want to use #WorldCup to find content related to the topic.
Like other social media platforms, hashtags on YouTube allow an easy way for viewers to find and watch related content in a single location.
Enhancing your video’s discoverability through hashtags
The prominent placement of up to three hashtags above video titles will undoubtedly help viewers find related content easier than before. Instead of manually searching for trending topics, viewers can click to browse and discover related content.
As more videos utilize hashtags, so will the volume of highly searched terms increase. With Keyword Tool, creators can tap into trending terms that can potentially improve the click-through-rate of their videos. At the same time, YouTube hashtags also allow viewers to discover related content that they may like.
Why should you use YouTube hashtags?
Whether you are finding ways to be discovered or looking to improve the channel experience for your viewers, using hashtags on YouTube can be quite useful.
Hashtags are not ownable. If you create a hashtag, anyone on the platform can come along and use that hashtag. So, the question becomes, why use YouTube hashtags?
Although compared to Twitter and Instagram where hashtag plays a significant role, the function of YouTube hashtags is slightly different. Here are two ways you can leverage off them:
1) Ride a trending wave through hashtags
Instead of aiming to own or establish a hashtag, find ones that are either trending or showing the potential of a breakout trend. Riding the wave of a trending topic or hashtag is a great way to be discovered by viewers.
2) Use hashtags as a utility
Another way to use hashtags is by using them as a utility as opposed to a marketing tool. An excellent example of a content creator and influencer that does this well is Gary Vaynerchuk, a popular speaker and a serial entrepreneur. He has two YouTube channels:
- Gary Vee (#GaryVee) – A channel that hosts a variety of content including keynote speeches, monologues, and interview excerpts.
- Ask Gary Vee (#AskGaryVee) – A channel featuring Q&A sessions on many topics like life advice, entrepreneurship, digital media, and many more.
The main channel, Gary Vee, uses the hashtag #GaryVee. Meanwhile, his second channel Ask Gary Vee uses the hashtag #AskGaryVee. Gary explained that the primary purpose he uses the hashtag #AskGaryVee is to allow his viewers to find questions easier. It then becomes a quick and easy way for viewers seeking a specific type of content on Gary’s channel.
He says that we should:
Try to reverse engineer the nature of the hashtag, and then try to bring value to the conversation – joke, a piece of information – rather than what most people think about which is “How can I create a hashtag and start my own trend?”
Hashtags may not make or break your content, but it’s a simple and useful method to amplify it further. Using high-volume keywords as YouTube hashtags and paying attention to trending topics may bring you more organic views that you might think.