Ever since the hashtag first hit the social media scene, it has rocked users. The simple symbol renamed the “pound sign” or “number sign” and secured its place in our culture; it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
When you first encounter this popular social media tool, it can be a bit confusing to figure out how to use it effectively. But, with a little help and guidance, you’ll be a hashtag pro in no time.
In this article, I answer six of the most common questions about using hashtags and provide a breakdown of best practices for each social media platform.
Using hashtags on social media: 6 common questions
- What is a hashtag? A hashtag is simply the pound sign (#) in front of a word, words, or phrase that you use to categorize your social media update. Social platforms create hyperlinks between themselves, so if used correctly, they can make your posts more visible. If a user searches for a hashtag or clicks on one, they will display updates that contain the same hashtag. For example, for a social media update regarding this blog post, I could tag it with #SocialMediaMarketing or #HashtagTips. Anyone who searches for these tags or clicks any of them in another social media post will be able to find this article.
- How to get into the conversation? To figure out which hashtag is best for the topic you’re writing about, it’s not enough to create one by heart. Fortunately, there are plenty of websites that are designed to keep up with trends and help users identify which ones will be the best fit for your social media strategy. Here are some useful free resources:
HashtagFox is another great resource for hashtag research. This is a paid tool and the one we use at Three Girls Media, but it offers real-time data and additional features over the free options.
- How to use multiple words as hashtags? Many hashtags contain multiple words 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 allow users to quickly read the sentence. It will also allow screen readers to speak every word instead of shuffling them, which will make your messages more accessible to ADA.
- Can I create my own hashtags on social media?
Absoutely! Creating your own hashtags for your customers and followers is a fantastic way to market 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 talking about you on social media! In addition to building your brand, a personalized hashtag is a way to get customer feedback on a new product or service or gain valuable insight into what people are saying about your brand.
- Is it okay to use multiple hashtags? The answer is yes, but up to a point. The maximum 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 with a few per social media post. social networks. You don’t want to be guilty of doing too much 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 make it easy for your followers to identify content. However, the way hashtags are used across platforms varies.
How to use hashtags on 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.
- Do not use punctuation or special characters; this will abruptly end the tag.
- Watch your spelling. Most spell-checking 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.
- Excluding Instagram and Pinterest, limit yourself to a maximum of three tags per post. Studies show engagement drops dramatically with social media updates that contain more than that.
- Hashtags are only visible in platform search results when profiles are set to be public. Private profiles can still use tags, however, people outside of their personal social platform circles will not be able to see them.
How to use social media hashtags on Twitter
Twitter forever changed the way people see the hashtag symbol (does anyone still call it a pound sign?). Here are a few things to keep in mind when using them on this platform.
- Hashtags using relevant words relating to general topics allow you to break up information into smaller chunks, making the most 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 help section recommends that you use no more than two in an update.
How to use social media hashtags on Facebook
Although Facebook does allow hashtags, this social media platform is the one where you want to be the most selective about their use.
- Trending hashtags on the platform are typically created by influencers and brands, as 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. By doing this, you will be cataloging your post without the tags distracting you from what you have to say.
How to use social media hashtags on Instagram
Instagram is a great social media platform for using hashtags; they are an efficient way for your business to index its content with similar updates. These points will help you get 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.
- It’s one of the only platforms where it’s acceptable – and highly recommended – to use a lot of hashtags. In fact, Three Girls conducted research that clearly determined that using 25-30 hashtags per post gives updates the most visibility. Just put them at the end of your social media update preceded by a few line breaks between the hashtags and the update itself. This will keep the update visually clean for followers, while also 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 the number of users who see your updates. Change 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 you can use more hashtags. Pinterest limits the number of hashtags to a maximum of 20, but common wisdom is to include as many as needed, from two to eight, depending on the topic.
- Find the best hashtags by entering them in the Pin description. The number of instances of this hashtag will increase 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 professionals, it is always beneficial to include hashtags as part of your strategy.
- Apply industry and topic specific tags because platform users are there to build professional relationships.
- Place hashtags at the end of your update, keeping your main post clean without distraction.
- In general, stick to a maximum of three relevant hashtags. Again, this is a site for professional and professional interactions; don’t confuse your post with a bunch of random tags.
- If you need ideas on what hashtags to use, keep an eye out for LinkedIn suggestions as you compose your post. They will appear under 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 are trying to market your business to tweens and teens and have the ability to create videos, this is a great platform. Hashtags can help your videos gain visibility.
- Mix popular hashtags with less competitive hashtags to get the most views.
- Use five to seven hashtags per video.
- Use the Discover feature on TikTok to search for trending hashtags.