There is so much confusion about #hashtags, so I am starting a series to answer all of your burning questions.  If you still have any questions after reading, please leave them in the comments.  I want you to be using hashtags like a pro!


Hashtags have always been popular on Twitter. Then Facebook joined the party. And you don’t want to forget hashtags on Instagram. But how do you use them? And why?

WHAT are hashtags?

Hashtags are a way to create a clickable link within your updates. It categorizes or brands your post. Hashtags are commonly used as a marketing tactic.

WHO uses hashtags?

Anyone who is looking to build credibility, establish themselves in a particular niche, and expand their visibility to a target audience beyond their immediate following.

Hashtags are searched by anyone looking for more information – or to see what people are saying – about any topic.

WHY use hashtags?

Well, to build credibility, establish yourself in a particular niche, and expand your visibility to your target audience beyond your immediate following. Or sometimes just for fun.

HOW do you use hashtags:

On Twitter and Facebook, you use hashtags for one of three main reasons:

  1. To brand yourself:
    Want to be known for a specific branded word or phrase? Use that hashtag in all of your related posts. This may be the name of your company, or a uniquely relevant phrase, or even a made-up word.

Curious about buying a home? Here are 3 tips to get you started: #MortgageKing

Never go to bed without moisturizing your lips! #LisaSkincareTip

  1. To categorize your posts and get FOUND:
    Just like on Google, social media users search for certain keywords – by typing into the search bar, or simply clicking a hashtag in any post. You want to be found by the people looking for your types of posts. Use hashtags that are likely to be searched by your target audience.

We test our products on ourselves. We use ingredients that have been in use for years & which are considered safe. #crueltyfree

Improve your chances of reaching your biz goals with these #ContentMarketing strategies:

Note: This type of categorizing hashtag is often used at live or virtual events, so that all attendees – and anyone looking to follow the affair – can follow each other, join the chat, or learn what is going on at the event.

  1. Just for fun:
    Hashtags are also now used for humor, to express emotion, or to clarify a post in an entertaining way.   These types of hashtags are not meant to be searched, but they can certainly add to the strength of your branding.

I had to take a photo of the cashier’s bracelet. Isn’t it gorgeous? #PleaseTellMyHusbandValentinesDayIsComing

I’m so glad I have band-aids in the house. #NextTimeDefrostTheMuffinBeforeCutting

(Want a social media expert to do all of this for you?  Check out our content creation programs, where we do all the heavy lifting, and you enjoy the benefits.)

Instagram hashtags:

Adding hashtags to your Instagram photos is a great way to share your brand with more people, increase your engagement, and attract new followers.

The best hashtags are relevant, specific, AND popular. You want your tags to be all three! A very popular hashtag may seem like a good choice (Look! There are more than 270 million photos that use #cute!), but you will be lost in the big crowd, and you won’t attract your ideal audience.

Get more specific, and make sure your tags are relevant to your photo.

Loving this day in the park with my sisters. #familylove #sisters #gratitude

And while you are using appropriate hashtags on your photos, you should be searching them, too. Find photos that use targeted hashtags, and engage with them. The more active you are, the more others will engage with you.

WHERE do you put the hashtags?

You’ve probably seen hashtags in the middle of a post, and at the end.

Yum! Look at this great #vegan #recipe for pumpkin pie:


Delicious, seasonal pumpkin pie: #vegan #recipe

There is no formally correct place to put your hashtags, but if the appropriate word is in your post, throw a pound sign before it! If you want to categorize your post with another word or two, you can put them at the end.

HOW MANY hashtags is appropriate?

On Twitter, you want to stick to one – three hashtags.

Because hashtags are still not totally embraced by all Facebook users, one or two is more than enough in one post.

Instagram seems to support the most hashtags. Hashtags are one of the main ways of finding great photos and interesting people, and they are welcome with open arms. But you probably don’t want to go too crazy. Although hashtags are perfectly appropriate to use on every photo, some people perceive too many as a sign of desperation. So think about your branding. If you are a leader, you probably don’t need to use too many tags. People will find you.

(Want a social media expert to do all of this for you?  Check out our content creation programs, where we do all the heavy lifting, and you enjoy the benefits.)

More questions answered in Part II, like:

  • Should you use a hashtag in your Twitter profile?
  • How do you create hashtags?
  • Can you use others’ hashtags?