Since the hashtag first hit the social media scene, it has swept users off their feet. The simple symbol rebranded the “pound sign” or “number sign” and secured its place in our culture; it is not going anywhere anytime soon.
When first encountering this popular social media tool, it might be a bit confusing to understand how to effectively use it. But, with a bit of guidance and advice you’ll be a hashtag pro in no time at all.
In this article, I answer six of the most common questions surrounding the use of hashtags and provide a breakdown of the best practices for each social media platform.
Using Hashtags In Social Media: 6 Common Questions
- What is a hashtag? A hashtag is simply the pound sign (#) in front of a word, words or phrase you use to categorize your social media update. Social platforms hyperlink them, so if used properly they can make your posts more visible. If a user searches for a hashtag or clicks on one it brings up updates that contain the same hashtag. For example, for a social media update about this blog post, I could tag it with #SocialMediaMarketing or #HashtagTips. Anyone who searches for these tags or clicks on one in another social media post will be able to find this article.
- How do I enter the conversation? Figuring out which hashtag is the best fit for the topic you are writing about requires more than just making one up off the top of your head. Thankfully, there are quite a few websites designed to follow trends and help users identify which ones will be best for your social media strategy. A few helpful free resources include:
Another terrific resource for hashtag research is HashtagFox. This is a paid tool and the one we use at Three Girls Media, but it offers real-time data and added functionality compared to the free options.
- How do I use multiple words as hashtags? Many hashtags have multiple words in them such as #ThrowbackThursday, #FoodieFriday or an event name like #MarchMadness. When using multiple words in your hashtags, keep in mind that any punctuation or spaces will end the hashtag, so remove apostrophes, commas, etc. Also, capitalize the first letter of each word to make it easy for users to quickly read the phrase. This will also allow screen reader programs to enunciate each word instead of blending it together, making your posts more ADA accessible.
- Can I make my own social media hashtags?
Absolutely! Creating your own hashtags for your customers and followers to use is a fantastic way to spread the word about your business or event. Simply place the pound sign (#) directly in front of the term you want to use (like your business name or a unique, catchy phrase related to your product or services). Don’t forget to share the hashtags with your followers and encourage them to use these tags when they are talking about you on social media! In addition to reinforcing your brand, a custom hashtag is a way you can get customer feedback about a new product or service or gain valuable insight to what people are saying about your brand.
- Is it okay to use more than one hashtag? The answer is yes, but up to a point. The most you’ll want to use per social media post is three, with the exception of Instagram and Pinterest, as research shows it’s best to stick to just a few per social media update. You don’t want to be guilty of overdoing it like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake do in this video.
- Should I only use hashtags on Twitter? Even though Twitter is the birthplace of hashtags, using the same or similar hashtags across all of your social media channels will establish consistency. Most platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok and LinkedIn, have integrated the use of hashtags to allow your followers to easily identify content. However, how hashtags are used on the platforms varies.
How To Use Hashtags On The Different Social Media Platforms
Before we dive into each individual platform, it’s important to understand that all social media sites share a few basic rules when it comes to hashtags.
- Don’t use punctuation or special characters; doing so will abruptly end the tag.
- Watch your spelling. Most spell check programs don’t recognize hashtags, so it’s up to you to make sure the spelling is correct. Misspelling a word in the tag will make it harder for people to find you.
- Other than on Instagram and Pinterest, limit yourself to three tags per post at most. Studies show that engagement dramatically drops with social media updates containing any more than that.
- Hashtags are only visible in platform search results when profiles are set to be public. Profiles that are private can still use tags, however, people outside their personal social platform circles will not be able to see them.
How To Use Social Media Hashtags On Twitter
Twitter has forever changed the way people see the hashtag symbol (does anyone even call it a pound sign anymore?). Here are some things to keep in mind when using them on this platform.
- Hashtags using relevant words relating to broad topics allow you to break up information into smaller chunks, making the most out of a social media platform that thrives on brevity.
- You can use as many hashtags as you want (within the character limit of course), but Twitter’s help section recommends using no more than two in an update.
How To Use Social Media Hashtags On Facebook
Although Facebook allows hashtags, this social media platform is the one you want to be the most selective about using them on.
- Trending hashtags on the platform are typically created by influencers and brands since most people have their personal accounts set to private.
- Use up to three specific hashtags per update and place them at the end of the post. Doing this will catalog your message without having the tags distract from what you have to say.
How To Use Social Media Hashtags On Instagram
Instagram is a fantastic social media platform for using hashtags; they’re an effective way for your business to index its content with similar updates. These points will help you make the most out of hashtags on this popular social media site.
- Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per photo or video posted, including comments posted by the same user.
- This is one of the only platforms where it is okay – and highly recommended – to use a lot of hashtags. In fact, Three Girls has conducted research that clearly determined using 25-30 hashtags per post gives updates the most visibility. Simply put them at the end of your social media update preceded by a few line breaks that go between the hashtags and the update itself. This will keep the update visually clean for followers, while still giving your brand the benefit of as many hashtags as possible.
- Be aware of Instagram’s shadowban. If you use the exact same hashtags over and over again, the social media platform may actually decrease how many users see your updates. Change up the hashtags you use from update to update and make sure they’re relevant to the post you’re sharing.
How To Use Social Media Hashtags On Pinterest
Pinterest users often search for a specific topic, which makes hashtags extremely important for your updates on this platform.
- Like Instagram, this is another social media site where it’s okay to use more hashtags. Pinterest limits the number of hashtags to a maximum of 20, but common wisdom is to include as many as are relevant, anywhere from two to eight, depending on the topic.
- Research which hashtags are best by typing them into the Pin’s description. The number of instances of that hashtag will come up so you can see how popular it is.
How To Use Social Media Hashtags On LinkedIn
Although LinkedIn is the preferred social media network for business professionals, hashtags are still beneficial to include as part of your strategy.
- Apply industry and topic specific tags since the platform’s users are there to build professional relationships.
- Place hashtags at the end of your update, keeping your main message clean without the distraction.
- In general, stick to three relevant hashtags at the most. Again, this is a site for career and business interactions; don’t muddle up your post with a bunch of random tags.
- If you need ideas for which hashtags to use, keep an eye out for LinkedIn’s suggestions when you write your post. They’ll appear underneath the social media update itself.
How To Use Social Media Hashtags On TikTok
TikTok is the latest social media sensation and has a very young demographic. If you’re trying to market your business to preteens and teens and have the ability to create videos, it’s a terrific platform. Hashtags can help your videos gain added exposure.
- Mix popular hashtags with less competitive ones to get the most views.
- Use five to seven hashtags per video.
- Use the Discover feature on TikTok to search for hashtags that are trending.