How to Use Hashtags

Understanding hashtags: what they are and how to maximize their power.

The term hashtag refers to the pound symbol (#) when it is inserted before keywords, topics, messages, or titles. It is used to tag, sort, and group relevant information. 

If you click on a hashtag, it will show you all the other public information using that hashtag from all over the internet. If you use a hashtag, your post will appear in the feeds of people who search for that hashtag.

Once a hashtag is used enough by a lot of people it becomes a trending topic.

Hashtags were originally used to group messages and information on Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Then Twitter started to use them in 2007, and they have since spread to almost all corners of the social media universe and even to our everyday lives. People now use verbal hashtags in conversation for emphasis, to express irony, as a topic changer, or even as a greeting—“hashtaghi!” They also use a hashtag hand sign!

Hashtags can be used to coordinate people around topics, celebrations, disasters, popular culture, and themed events.









Hashtag activism

This term refers to the use of hashtags to rally internet users around an issue. The more people who use the specific hashtag, the larger the movement grows. It has been used to mobilize and coordinate participants in movements like #OccupyWallStreet, #MeToo, and #BlackLivesMatter, which have traveled beyond borders.

Hashtags can be used to:

  • Make your content searchable by anyone.
  • Attract new followers. 
  • Engage your current audience.
  • Highlight key issues by choosing campaign hashtags (e.g.,. #freetheparrot).
  • Show support and raise awareness for social issues (e.g., #InternationalWomensDay).
  • Add context to your posts.
  • Help sort your posts.

Quick Hashtag Essentials 

1. Start with #.

2. Use text only, no spaces or punctuation.

3. Make them short and memorable: #hashtagsthataretoolong can be difficult to read and remember. 

4. Check your spelling, otherwise your content may not end up in the feed you intended..

5. Use relevant and specific hashtags that are likely to be used by other social media users that you want to connect with.

6. Use hashtags in posts, photo captions, video titles. Explore how others use them too. 

7. Make your hashtags clickable so they can get indexed and displayed in search results.

8. Make sure your accounts are public, otherwise your hashtagged content will only be seen by your existing followers.

9. Quality not quantity: limit how and when you use hashtags. Using them too often can be counterproductive, making it difficult to read your posts and  exposing your content far and wide to little effect.

What you need to know about hashtags on various social networks


Twitter has a “trending hashtags” function and can sort by location to let you see what is popular in your area. This can be helpful to decide which hashtags to use and also when creating new ones. 


Not all content on Facebook is public. Many individuals choose to keep their pages private; therefore, the hashtags that show up are likely to be from brands and influencers.

One way you can use hashtags in your private Facebook group is to ask all your followers to use certain hashtags elsewhere on their public accounts on any social media platform.


When you start typing a #, an automatic menu pops up to suggest popular hashtags and their number of posts. The more unique your hashtags are, the fewer posts there will be. 

Connect through hashtags

Hashtags allow you to join relevant but wider, even global, conversations. Keep up with popular hashtags so you can use them if you choose to. You can use them to educate your own audience by exposing them to wider issues and content, or you can connect your organization to similar organizations and create broader alliances. Hashtags that connect to local concerns can find allies nearby. Popular global hashtags, like awareness days, will leapfrog you into broader conversations. 

Monitor your hashtag impact

Just as you measure the success of your other activities on social media, keep an eye on how your posts perform when you use hashtags. Is there a difference in performance between a post with a hashtag and one without? Does using hashtags attract more followers, likes, and comments? Which hashtags work best for your account? 

By using hashtags strategically, you can expand the reach of your communication and increase the impact of your messages.

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