Hashtags (#) are symbols used to categorize content on the web. Using hashtags for categorization started on Twitter and quickly spread to other platforms; however, how, where, and why to use hashtags on the various platforms varies.

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How to Use #Hashtags

Hashtags are like driving lanes; there are right ways and there are wrong ways to use them. Here are the basic rules of the #road.

  • Do immediately follow the hashtag with the word you want to use; do not space. If you do, your word won’t be categorized. (Ex: #hashtag, not # hashtag)

  • Do capitalize letters to make the wording of your hashtag legible. Regardless of if you use capital letters, the word will be categorized the same. (Ex: #TheStorytellerAgency vs. #thestorytelleragency)

  • Do create a new hashtag for every word you want categorized (ex: #beachlife #fridayfeeling, not #beachlifefridayfeeling)

  • Do not divide hashtags with a comma

  • Do not use words that aren’t appropriate for your post as hashtags

  • Do not repeat the same hashtags over and over. Your profile will be hit with a “shadow ban”. On Instagram, this is where the platform thinks that you’re spam

While you don’t want to repeat the same tags over and over, you do want to have a bank of tags that fit your brand and your content. The recommendation is 40 to 60 that you use in rotation.

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Where to Use #Hashtags

In case the previous doesn’t make it clear, hashtags are to be used on social media platforms. Some platforms allow for (and reward) more tags than others. Here’s the rundown:

  • Use hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, etc.

  • Hashtags typically go at the end of a post.

  • It’s okay to integrate hashtags into the post. One is usually okay especially if you’re tagging an event or a trending topic.

  • If you’re tagging another brand, use the @ symbol to link to their profile. If they don’t have a profile on the platform you’re using, use a hashtag if there is one.

When it comes to how many tags to use, less is typically more. Generally speaking, these are the current best-practices:

  • Use one or two hashtags on Facebook. One should be a branded tag; the other should relate heavily to the content. More tags on Facebook lower your post’s visibility.

  • Use two hashtags on Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat. There are times where you might feel inclined to use more, but posts with two perform best. This is why it’s important to research tags and to use them wisely.

  • Instagram is the oddball; roughly eleven or more hashtags on this platform boost your visibility.

Tumblr and YouTube are not as restrictive; posts with more tags tend to rank higher.

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Why You Should & Shouldn’t Use #Hashtags

The goal of using hashtags is to boost your post’s visibility. Hashtags are most effective when they describe your brand and / or the content of whatever you are posting. You should use hashtags if they are appropriate for what you are posting; you should not use hashtags indiscriminately. In other words, do not create a hashtag to land in a category that does not relate to the post. Audiences will punish that kind of misuse.

To determine what tags to use, do a little research to see what similar brands use, what tags perform well, and which ones suit you. The following links will take you to leading hashtag research resources:

Use SocialMention.com and search.twitter.com to monitor hashtag performance. Aim to find tags that resonate with your brand, that aren’t the most popular, and that really relate to what you’re posting. If you do that, you’ll fall into the right categories and will find the right audiences. #winwin

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If you want to be a social media winner but feel more like chicken dinner, you’re not alone. That’s why we’re here. Contact us at The Storyteller Agency and let us know what your business goals are, and let us help your put your best self forward.  

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