Best Practices for Using Hashtags on Social Media

Hashtags have become an integral part of social media. They’re used on every major social media site and they’re also used on many smaller social sites, like Vine. If you’ve been limiting your hashtag use to just Twitter, it’s definitely time to step out. There are nine other networks that let you search and sort information by hashtags.

Let’s take a look at each of these sites, and discover some best practices for using hashtags on social media.

Hashtags on Facebook

Hashtags on Facebook didn’t happen until 2013. Even now, hashtags are more likely to be used by businesses pages than personal profiles. And while hashtags do help with engagement, they’re not used anywhere near as often as they are on Twitter. Us Social Media Marketers generally admit hashtags aren’t used as widely on Facebook by business owners as they are on other platforms, but we would still recommend using them. Just keep on-top of our hashtag maintenance.

Hashtags on Instagram

Want to know why some marketers use hashtags on Facebook? It’s often to integrate with Instagram.


Instagram is extremely hashtag friendly. People add hashtags to the caption of their images or videos, and they use them freely – it’s not uncommon to see ten or more hashtags attached to an image.


And the reason marketers are using hashtags on Facebook for Instagram reach? Simple: if an image gets shared from either network, the other network will pick up those hashtags. That means you’re basically doubling your hashtag reach. So if you want a bit more exposure and cross-pollination between the two platforms, definitely start experimenting with hashtags on Instagram and Facebook.


You can, of course, search by hashtag on Instagram. And you can click on any hashtag to see similar photos. Hashtags are really the best way to group images on Instagram, so that’s why the hashtags fly so freely. Just make sure they don’t fly too freely.

"Posts that used hashtags had an average engagement rate of 5.31%, while posts that did not averaged an engagement rate of only 2.95%."

Summit 21, Social Bakers.

Hashtags on LinkedIn

LinkedIn tested hashtags for a bit but abandoned them in 2013. However, if you search for a hashtag on LinkedIn, you will get back results, just as if you had used the keyword in your hashtag. Hashtags have been known to be used purely to highlight keywords within a post content itself. 

Hashtags on Twitter

Twitter is hashtag central. Sure, hashtags work on many platforms, and they are definitely worth using on all those platforms. But hashtags are a part of Twitter’s DNA, though they were not actually born there. The hashtag’s first use was on the Internet Relay Chat (IRC), way back in 2000. Hashtag use on Twitter didn’t really take hold until 2007.


Hashtags look like this on #Twitter, as I’m sure you already know:


Hashtags are clickable on Twitter, which means if you click one you’ll get a listing of tweets with that hashtag. Just don’t use too many hashtags in a single tweet. Twitter best practices recommend no more than two hashtags in a single tweet. If you want to improve readability, you might also want to use CamelCase – notice that the #ContentMarketing hashtags are slightly easier to read than #contentmarketing. Hashtags are not case-sensitive, so using caps to clarify your meaning isn’t risky.


If you want to track and analyse Twitter hashtags, you’ll never run out of options. There are dozens of tools that let you leverage Twitter hashtags to your advantage.

Hashtags on Google+

Google+ beats Facebook in terms of hashtag functionality. Click on any hashtag on the Big G’s social network and you’ll see a box in the upper left corner of the page listing similar hashtags (look for the box with the blue banner below). The rest of the page will show posts with the same hashtag you clicked.


Google+ also offers autofill for hashtags, which is a nice way to find relevant hashtags as you type. Google+ is so into hashtags, in fact, that it will automatically add one to your posts like magic!


There is an additional benefit to using hashtags on your Google+ posts: Sometimes they come up when someone searches on, who doesn’t like a bit of free help on the SEO front!

Hashtags on Pinterest

You can use hashtags on board descriptions, but most sources say it doesn’t help rankings much, however, hashtags work best in Pinterest descriptions.


And yes, you can follow that topic on Pinterest. However, most of the pins under this topic don’t actually have, for example; #WordPress hashtags. They include the word “WordPress” in their titles or descriptions, though.


The biggest thing to remember here is that Pinterest is evolving, and evolving fast. Should you include hashtags in your pins? Definitely, but be ready for their functionality to change. In fact, expect it…


One great way to use hashtags on Pinterest is if you’ve got a series of pins and want to tie them all together. This is especially effective if they don’t all work on one board. A hashtag is a way to basically create a content campaign. This is something you could also do across other social media platforms too.

Hashtags on YouTube

You can search by hashtag on YouTube and it will give you different results than if you searched with just the same keyword, i.e. “#EmailMarketing” is different than “email marketing”. When I was running different tests for search results with and without hashtags, the results for # searches always showed videos with smaller view counts. So hashtags do appear to be influencing the search results. Another interesting result? Hashtag searches were more likely to bring up videos from other countries and in other languages.


One place hashtags seemed to have the most power in search on YouTube is in the video titles.


For the time being, I can see adding two or three hashtags to each video in the comments section, but I’m not entirely convinced of the benefits of going so far as putting them in the title of a video. Yes, hashtags in titles do appear to show more often if you’re using a hashtag to search… But how many people are searching with a hashtag on YouTube?

As we do more research on this topic for an ever-changing beast
of a platform, we will keep you updated in the comments!

Hashtag Help

Now that we’ve run through the big hitter platforms that use hashtags (for now), use them at will, but always in context and not too much.


If you would like to learn more about how to apply the right hashtags at the right time, check out our Social Mentor sessions. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about how to create and manage your hashtags for a more effective strategy to increase engagement. 

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