How Do Hashtags Work on Social Media?

hashtag blog

Hashtags have been around since 2007 when Chris Messina added one into his tweet as an experiment. Hashtags are now used so often throughout social media that it’s hard to know exactly how to use them. Each social media platform uses hashtags differently and if you know how to use them properly you could result in an extensive reach. 

Hashtags are an awesome way to share content throughout to social media to targeted audiences. The goal is to increase your visibility and reach people who find your content relevant. For example, those who love travel can follow the travel hashtag to get inspiration and ideas (and maybe even see content from hospitality companies), while those who are attending a conference can watch for that conference’s specific hashtag and find out what’s going on at the conference. Hashtags are a great way for content to be filtered and for more people to see it who are interested in that specific content. 

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The very first tweet with a hashtag


Since twitter was the birthplace of the hashtag, let’s start here. It’s said that using a hashtag in a tweet can increase the engagement. It also only takes up a single character space so you can add it into your text seamlessly without fear of going over the character limit. Because the whole point of a hashtag is to reach the audience who is interested in the content, make sure it’s relevant.

On twitter you can search for a hashtag specifically or look through the “trending” section. This is a great way to keep up with current events and if you have content relevant to what’s trending you might want to add one of those hashtags into your tweet. The ideal number of hashtags to use on Twitter is 1-2 per post.

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Wendy’s use of #NationalRoastDay in a tweet


In 2010, Instagram was officially released as a photo and video sharing social networking app. Hashtags thrive on Instagram as people can choose to actually follow hashtags. Make sure your hashtags are relevant so those who see your content are your intended audience. 

Because hashtags are embraced by the Instagram app, some marketers say 11+ hashtags a post is recommended. In order to avoid overwhelming your post, some companies add a few hashtags to the caption and then multiple as a comment. This can be a great way to add a bunch of hashtags and reach your target market without a crazy long caption.

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Hashtags in caption & as a comment


Facebook jumped on the bandwagon after the hashtag was born but never fully embraced it. A lot of marketers argue that you don’t need to use hashtags on Facebook at all because they do nothing to help with your engagement. If you do choose to use hashtags on Facebook, you should keep them limited to the same recommendation as Twitter (1-2 per post). Because it doesn’t make a huge difference either way, a lot of people opt to avoid hashtags on Facebook altogether. 

Tips & Tricks

  • Keep hashtags short: people aren’t searching for extremely long hashtags. Keep them relevant and stick to a few words’ maximum
  • Capitalize the first letter of each word when creating a hashtag: You want your hashtag to be easy to remember so people use it. Keep it short, memorable, and capitalize each word so people keep it top of mind and you can search for the content (i.e. #PizzaPartyFriday NOT #pizzapartyfriday) 
  • No spaces or periods or punctuation: Spaces, punctuation like apostrophes, and periods end the hashtag. If you want a few words make sure they are all in one line and not broken up (i.e. #traveldiary NOT #travel.diary OR #travel diary) 
  • Don’t confuse the hashtag with the at symbol: if you add the at symbol in a hashtag it will automatically revert to a tag (mention) and not be the hashtag you intended
  • Make sure your account is public: If you have a private account, that will override any hashtags and your content will not be seen by people looking for that hashtag

Now that you know how hashtags work on the top social media platforms, you can better adjust your posts. You can always post the same content throughout all your social channels but adjust the wording, so the hashtags and character limits are optimized for each platform. Use a content calendar or scheduling spreadsheet to write it out so you don’t forget anything, and you’ll be good to go!

Published by vzelefsky

Hi, I’m Victoria, an American girl who’s always jet-setting somewhere new! I was born in Maryland, moved to Colorado, then jumped around Europe for a while before ending up in Baltimore because I fell in love. I work in marketing and love living in downtown Baltimore but am always itching to plan my next adventure!

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