Why Use Hashtags? I don’t get it.


Ever asked yourself ‘why use hashtags?’

If you’re not a millennial, chances are you went to school before social media was invented. So, while you may use social media, some common practices, like when, how and why to use hashtags are a bit of a mystery. 

Fear not! We’re here to give you the low down. Let’s start by understanding what they are.

What is a hashtag (#)?

A hashtag is a short word or phrase that immediately follows the hash symbol (#). On its own, a hashtag (#) is just a symbol, but social media platforms have provided this ‘character’ with a new purpose that has opened up a world of possibilities to promote your business or brand. 

Hashtags like a name tag that identifies and locates content under the same group. They are clickable and searchable. 

Hashtags gained popularity in 2007 thanks to Twitter and have since been adopted by other social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook. 

Use Hashtags to Expose Your Brand

Social media marketing is all about exposing your brand and facilitating communication with your current and potential customers. Manager of Inbound Marketing at Hootsuite, Michael Aynsley, says hashtags are all about getting your content in front of the right audience.

‘It’s not about getting seen by a lot of people, it’s about getting seen by the right people. That’s how hashtags lead to higher engagement and more followers,” said Mr Aynsley.

Hashtags allow you to grow your targeted audience in an organic way (without necessarily paying for advertising).

When using them correctly your audience is more likely to:

  • Find your content easily since it is ‘connected’ to their interests and or searches
  • Be aware of your brand
  • Follow your accounts and become long-term supporters 
  • Engage with, comment and share your content

Ultimately, this may lead them to purchase a service or product from you. 

Are there ground rules for creating hashtags?

The use of hashtags must be thoughtful and relevant to the specific content you are sharing. Ask yourself if the hashtags you are considering speak for your brand, values, culture, and products/services and whether they will attract the users you want to engage with. 

Before using a hashtag, do your research and make sure any content attached to them is appropriate. 

You can do this easily by typing the hashtag in the search field of the social media platform to see what kind of content is tagged under that word.  You can also make use of fee online tools like HashAitit to find tagged content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. 

Here are some general guidelines for creating successful hashtags: 

  • Stay relevant: hashtags must relate to your content, brand and values 
  • Hashtags are not case sensitive. Just capitalise the first letter of each word to make it easier to read 
  • Don’t use spaces 
  • Keep it short
  • You can include letters and numbers but not only numbers 
  • Don’t overdo it

How Many Hashtags Should I Use?

Every social platform has different ‘reactions’ to the use of hashtags. For instance, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, while both Twitter and Facebook work better with just a few.



According to a study carried out in 2016 by TrackMaven, “the best number of hashtags to use in Twitter is one with an average of 90 interactions per post” while in Instagram the ideal number is between 9 and 12. LinkedIn says here are no limits but their guidelines advise you to select hashtags wisely (4 or 5 are probably enough).



What type of hashtags should I use?

Consider using different types of hashtags with each post. Create a list of possible hashtags based on the following categories: 

  • Brand: These are unique to your business. It includes your brand’s name, the name of your products, and the attributes of your products or services. These hashtags are ‘stable’ and can be used in a regular basis.
  • Campaign/ events: specific hashtags created for an ongoing communication or marketing campaign (special promotions, new products or services). A lot of brands create special ones to drive engagement of their audience by, for example, by encouraging them to share pictures using their products.
  • Content: highlight the keywords of the particular topic you are sharing, reinforcing the message you want to deliver. 
  • Trend: hashtags commonly seen, like #TBT #FridayFunday #Selfie. The negative side of the trendy hashtags is that your posts are more likely to get lost in the crowd.

Measure, evaluate and re-adjust 

Hashtag use is about experimenting and finding the right way to adopt them in your digital content. As with any marketing activity, it is essential to measure the performance of the hashtags used and adjust the strategy to get the best results.

There are a wide range of tools out there that can help you to find your hashtags and even measure their performance. Some of the them include:

Want to learn more about using hashtags?


At Brainbox Marketing our friendly, smart and experienced team use clever marketing to deliver great results for your business. We can help you to create and manage your social media strategy.  Contact us today!