#Hashtagology 101

By: Charissa Corlies (@CharissaCo)

Can we all first take a moment to think back to when the # meant so many other things. Ah simpler times those were. Then 2007 happened. The first iPhone was released, Keeping Up With The Kardashians premiered, and Google’s Chris Messina had an idea that would connect communities all over the world.

What began as an aide to organize trending topics on Twitter was soon adapted to Instagram, Facebook, Vine (RIP), and Pinterest. Hashtags can be used to effectively engage brands with target audiences, but when they aren’t done right they can be so wrong. The trick when it comes to hashtags is that nailing the execution varies from platform to platform. Let’s dive into a few platforms and see how hashtags can be utilized in each.

Twitter

Although the original hashtagger, Twitter isn’t the platform where the more the merrier is true when it comes to hashtags. With only 140 characters to get your message across, the focus should be on unique copy. The hashtag should be a supporting factor in order to add to a conversation your target audience is engaging in. The most effective tweets typically only include one or two hashtags.  

(Source: Search Engine Watch)

Facebook

Hashtags on Facebook are tough. Because the average Facebook user sets their security settings higher than compared to other platforms, individuals lack the opportunity to connect outside of their personal network. As a result most hashtags on Facebook are found to be linked to brands, influencers, and publishers, not average users. Minimize hashtags and make sure that they are specific enough that people will be searching for them for a reason.

Instagram

The jackpot when it comes to hashtags, Instagram is the platform where you can curate the most unique engagement by utilizing hashtags. Use of hashtags on Instagram can generate reach to new members of your target audience. The platform allows for up to 30 hashtags per post, but hashtags should always be listed under a first comment, not a caption.

Next time you are creating a social media content calendar be sure to take advantage of hashtags as a tool to connect audiences and intersect into their conversations. Put time and effort into researching what hashtags will yield the most positive results. Tap into what your brand’s target audience is talking about and how they are using hashtags to talk about it. Identify these hashtags to incorporate into content or create a 2-3 word tagline for your brand to get users to jump on board with. The latter may be tricky if the platform does not have a strong following. #TheEnd.

This Article Has 5 Comments
  1. McKenzie Edgar says:

    I love when parents or grandparents ask what a hashtag is or when people literally say the word hashtag (insert whatever word) out loud in a casual conversation. These incidents make me laugh because they show how hashtags have become so integrated in our daily lives. I never knew that Instagram caps off at 30 hashtags and I don’t think I could even think of 30 hashtags for a post. Even though I don’t use hashtags in my posts (I know I really should), I do click on hashtags on posts that I like in order to find similar accounts. Great post and advice on hashtags Charissa, I also appreciate the #TheEnd.

  2. Sarah Johnson says:

    Honestly, I do not think I ever use hashtags. When my mom asks me what it is I don’t even know how to explain to her what it is. Clearly hashtags are a 21st century thing and are not meant to be used by the older generations. But I completely agree that Instagram is the most prominent of the hashtag family. It is entertaining to see someones post with the caption, and then a second comment with like 50 hashtags that most of the time make no sense to me. Honestly I don’t understand them completely and I don’t think I ever will, but your post has definitely helped me have a better understanding! #thanks

  3. Kelly O'Shaughnessy says:

    Interesting comment that hashtags on Facebook do not work because of the privacy settings. I wonder if any of that has carried over to Instagram since FB acquired them? Hashtags are obviously more effective on Insta but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a residual effect from fb programmers or algorithms.

  4. Katherine Wylie says:

    It is interesting to note the hashtags do not function as they were originally meant to on other platforms on Facebook. It seems to me that this is an oversight that could be costing Facebook some user loyalty points. If security really is the reason for this, I argue that users could easily select a security option that allows for their hashtagged posts to become immediately public. After all, isn’t that what hashtagging is all about?

  5. Katy Edgington says:

    I remember signing up for Twitter in 2009 and being so so so confused by hashtags. I literally googled what a hashtag is because I could not wrap my head around tagging themes or elements of your post. I also wasn’t really sure I wanted strangers to be able to find me and my profile based on what hashtags I was using. Ahh how time has changed… I am a lover of hashtags, but also sometimes kind of a hater of other people’s hashtags. Like Kelli said in class the other day, using too many hashtags on Instagram can look opportunistic and kind of disingenuous. But somehow I am more okay with people loading up on the hashtags in their first comments? I’ve even loaded up on hashtags in my own first comments because bring on those extra likes from strangers who like my pictures. I’m not sure what the psychology behind that is. I’m also a total sucker for those featured hashtags on Twitter during big events. I love getting that little rose automatically added to my #BachelorABC tweets or the little tophy during awards shows.

    Great post! I look forward to seeing what the hip cool hashtags trends become in the future because I’m pretty sure they’re not going anywhere for a while.

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