Social Media: A Hashtag Primer

Hashtags are to social media what keywords are to search engine optimization. And just like keywords, you shouldn’t approach social media hashtags without a clearly defined strategy. Today’s we’ll cover hashtag basics, channel-specific hashtag use, and hashtag strategy.

Knowing the right use of hashtags for each channel is vital to a successful social media presence – as going hashtag crazy on LinkedIn will make you look silly and leaving hashtags off Twitter will cost you potential engagement. So, let’s dig into some in-depth hashtag goodness.

Hashtag Basics

The story of hashtags is the story of an impressive rise to the top of the social media world. The idea of hashtags was born in a tweet first sent in August of 2007. The idea quickly caught on, and found its way into the Oxford Dictionary in 20110 and even became Scrabble-official in 2014. Today, roughly 75% of social media users regularly include hashtags in their posts.

So, there’s the history – but what is the point of hashtags? The simple answer: they serve as bins to collect related content. By including hashtags in your social media posts, you are adding your content to those community bins created around a hashtag.

This organizational technique serves two related purposes: it allows users to find the content they are interested and it helps to get your content found by interested users. Behind the scenes, it also helps the social media providers shape the content that is delivered through their algorithm.


The birthplace and undisputed kings of hashtags – Twitter is the place to hone your hashtagging skills. Studies have shown that the best engagement comes with 1-3 hashtags per post – and most users expect those to be included in your text organically. That means you shouldn’t be stuffing extra hashtags at the end of every post.


While Twitter is the birthplace of hashtags, Instagram has been gaining ground on the king of hashtags. With Instagram, the hashtag sweet spot comes in at around 10 per post, so feel free to go a bit crazier with your tagging. On Instagram, there are two reasons to hashtag: the first is to help potential followers find you and the second is to encourage engagement from your existing followers.


Hashtags and Facebook have a bit of a tricky relationship. Because so many personal accounts are private, the majority of hashtag use comes from businesses and brands. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use hashtags – but they’re more for fun than anything else. Stick to somewhere between zero and five and you should be fine.


LinkedIn doesn’t have time to mess around with hashtags. Well, actually they do on their mobile app. But still, LinkedIn probably isn’t the place to go hashtag crazy. They look out of place on the professional network – so leave them behind when you venture over the social media’s serious cousin.


I’ll be honest, I don’t do much with Pinterest so I’m not as up on the latest tricks – but I do know the only way to have a clickable hashtag in Pinterest is to include it in your pin descriptions. Also, hashtags aren’t searchable so don’t lose any sleep over finding the perfect tag for your pin.

The Hashtag Strategy

So, hashtags are all about placing your content into the correct ‘bin’ so that it can be found by interested readers. Toward this end, you want to target hashtags that are both strategic and feasible. Strategic hashtags have enough content and viewers to make a real impact on your social media engagement. Feasible hashtags are small enough that there’s a chance to get your content seen.

Basically, crafting a hashtag strategy looks a lot like keyword research. They should be related to your business, resonate with your target audience, and achievable given your resources. Because we provide both SEO and social media management, we are well versed in creating strategies that will boost your engagement and grow your business. Contact us today to see how we can help!

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