Hashtags are a popular tool for generating reach on a variety of social media platforms and can be a game-changer when it comes to social media marketing strategy and business growth.
By using key words and phrases with no spaces, preceded by # (e.g.#DigitalWomen💃), hashtags organically categorise content and drive traffic to posts, helping people discover your feed when they search for content.
Popular social media manager meme account, @workinsocialtheysaid uses an example of branded hashtags.
Hashtags originally came into wide use on Twitter but have since become important on platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok and Tumblr to name several.
But there’s more to hashtags than meets the eye – read on for helpful tips and tricks to upgrade your hashtag toolkit and grow your brand.
Best practises for using hashtags
It can be easy to look at the infinite hashtag options and get overwhelmed or carried away, but the best hashtag practice is one that feels natural and authentic to your voice as a business. Hashtags are the most effective when kept closely related to your content – and as a general rule, less is more.
Depending on the platform the wide consensus is that using between 1 and 5 hashtags gives the best results:
On Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook: 1-2
Both Facebook and LinkedIn are platforms with a focus on private connections between people rather than content turnover, as such requiring the fewest hashtags, using too many is likely to be off-putting to other users.
On YouTube: 2-3
YouTubers are limited to 15 hashtags in a video description, with the platform ignoring all hashtags and potentially flagging your account as spam if you use more. Only 3 show up in the video title though, so while all hashtags are hyperlinked, it’s worth noting that these 3 will be prioritised in the search function, attracting the most attention.
On Pinterest: 2-5
It can be helpful to think of Pinterest as a search engine where hashtags are relied on alongside keywords to categorise content. Pinterest was late in integrating them into the platform, where they were previously considered by app users as spammy, but now they function extremely well as a tool for reach.
On TikTok: 3-5
TikTok allows users to build communities around hashtags and being a newer platform, hashtags are particularly powerful at building reach where the app isn’t overloaded with them.
The ‘Discover’ page lists previews of videos from around 8 trending hashtags on the first load. Users are limited to 100 characters in a video description, but using it all up for hashtags lacks the personality-first approachTikTok is famed for and will likely be unpopular with its younger user base.
On Tumblr: 5-10
Tumblr hashtags function similarly to Pinterest. Only the first 5 tags show up in tracked tags (where users follow specific hashtags), and while up to 20 tags will show up in a Tumblr search their full use might deter users.
On Instagram, a platform which offers users the flexibility of using up to 30 hashtags, opinions are mixed. But Instagram itself makes a case for 3-5 hashtags.
Other sources recommend 5-10 and Digital Women collaborator Ravi Shukle from Agorapulse recommends 3 hashtag groups of 10 to fully maximise the platform’s potential. This table from Hootsuite investigates the effectiveness of using different numbers of hashtags, all the way up to 30.
It might be best to think of Instagram as a Wild West of sorts when it comes to hashtags, so explore all your options, using insight tools to measure their effectiveness, then at the end of the day pick the level of hashtag usage that works best for you.
High engagement comes from great content not from a militant hashtag strategy.
You can identify which hashtags are the most effective and appropriate by looking at similar pages to yours and what hashtags they use on their content, using trial and error by using different amounts and styles of hashtags then comparing engagement, or using an online tool to explore and analyse hashtag suggestions.
5 tips on using hashtags effectively
1. Regularly test which hashtags work for your content and brand
You can do this by scheduling regular check-ins with your account insights or an insight tool and experimenting with new methods alongside trusted ones during the period in-between.
2. Mix up ‘broader’ hashtags with niche hashtags for maximum reach
Checking suggested hashtags often provides related hashtags with a lower popularity, using these gives your content a better chance of standing out from the crowd.
3. Know your platform
Using the guide above, you can differentiate to what extent you’re using hashtags on each platform; being more selective means you’ll end up relying on only the strongest ones.
4. Invest in a hashtag tool
Hashtagify lets you search Instagram and Twitter hashtags, seeing how popular they are, while RiteTag lets you type in your caption and upload your image, then generates trending hashtag suggestions. Hashtag tools like these can do the work of finding the most relevant hashtags for you. See this Agorapulse article for more helpful suggestions.
5. Keep an eye on what’s trending in your field
Being aware of what’s trending lets you get ahead of the curve when it comes to a hashtag going viral.
Watch our Content Marketing Q&A with Agorapulse’s Ravi Shukle to learn more about how to make the most of hashtags in your social media strategy.