Since the hashtag first hit the social media scene, it 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 coming into contact with this popular social media tool, it can be a bit confusing to understand how to use it effectively. But, with a bit of guidance and advice you’ll be a hashtagging pro in no time at all.
In this article, I’ll answer six of the most common questions surrounding this technique 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 the word, words or phrase you use to categorize your social media update. When used properly, they can make your posts more visible as the social platforms hyperlink them, so if a user searches the 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.
- 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 resources include:
- 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.
- 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 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
While Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag, forever changing the way people see the symbol (does anyone even call it a pound sign anymore?), there are some things to keep in mind when using them.
- 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 or three in an update; Three Girls Media agrees with using no more than three on any post.
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 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 only one specific hashtag per update and place it at the end of the post. Doing this will catalog your message without having the tag distract from what you have to say.
- Don’t include hashtags in every post, but instead save them for when you want your update to be part of a larger conversation or drive awareness for something specific.
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 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 going 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 than three hashtags. Common wisdom is to include as many that are relevant, although Pinterest itself recommends limiting them to a maximum of 20.
- 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 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.
Wrapping Hashtags Into Your Social Media Strategy
Using hashtags can be an extremely useful social media tactic for brands of all sizes. Do you want to know more about how to use them effectively? Contact us for a complimentary, no obligation 30-minute consultation and we’ll share advice specific to your business!
For more social media marketing tips and tricks, check out these helpful blog posts:
- How to Use Visuals Effectively for Social Media Marketing
- Social Media Trends for Every Day of the Week
- Infographic: Why Your Brand Needs to Invest in Social Media
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