The pound sign has been valuable from the time phones were invented, but in 2007 the familiar symbol changed forever: the pound sign transformed into a hashtag. Now, those two pairs of intersecting parallel lines make a powerful global social media tool. Use the hashtag wisely and consistently, and your social media accounts will earn an increased amount of followers and free advertising. As with any social account, an optimized use of hashtags is beneficial, but especially so when using them strategically for your business. In this article we’ll share how to use hashtags effectively for business.

Back in 2007, Chris Messina founded the hashtag, being first to suggest using the (then) pound sign on Twitter as a categorical symbol to gather discussions. The notion has spread across the web like wildfire ever since. In fact, 10 years after Chris first used the hashtag on social media, the Telegraph reported that about 125 million hashtags are used a day on Twitter. Undoubtedly, that number has grown exponentially since that data was reported in 2017.

Why You Should Use Hashtags:

A key feature of the hashtag you’ll want to take advantage of for your business is that adding hashtags to your web or social content allows you to measure its performance retroactively. Hashtags provide you with powerful information to analyze your existing content and refine it to best connect with your audiences online and drive ever-improving performance. In short, hashtags can help your content become more visible and increase its engagement.

How to Use Hashtags:

Hashtags are most commonly used on various social network such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter (where it all started). Here are the primary “rules” to follow in order to use a hashtag correctly in your posts:

  • They must start with # but they won’t work if you use spaces, punctuation or symbols.

  • Set your social media accounts to public, so users not following you can see your content.

  • Don’t use lengthy hashtags – generally. Typically, the shorter the better here, but gauge your audience, accounts, context because long hashtags can catch on in popularity.

  • Be specific and relevant with your hashtags. When your hashtag is easy to find, it’s more likely to be used by other social media users.

  • Don’t use too many hashtags per post. Each social channel has limits to how many hashtags are allowed, and using too many can work against you. We’ll discuss the optimal number of hashtags by network in the next section.

Hashtags per Post by Network

Optimal Amount of Hashtags, by Network:

  • Twitter – Use 1-2 hashtags within your post or in the comments section (Twitter recommends using no more than 2 hashtags per post).

  • Instagram – On average, use 1-3 hashtags in your post, but 5-10 hashtags per post is also acceptable. IG allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post, but 11 hashtags typically yields a favorable response.

    • It has become popular to posting most of your hashtags within your post’s first comment, as they are less distracting from your content in that area.

    • By using less hashtags in your post captions, you’ll be less likely to be penalized by its algorithm.

    • With an Instagram Business account, you can access Instagram Insights, which inform you on which of your posts and hashtags have been more effective.

    • Instagram Stories – You may use up to 10 hashtags in IG Stories.

  • LinkedIn – Use 1-2 hashtags per post.

    • Remember to keep hashtags professional

    • Trending LinkedIn hashtags will appear in the “news and views” section on the home page.

  • Facebook – Use 1-2 hashtags per post.

    • Many users’ profiles are private on Facebook, which makes it more challenging for brands to track how users are interacting with your hashtags.

    • You can monitor your brand’s hashtags and see which public profiles are joining in the conversation by using the URL Include the keyword you want to search at the end.

Popular Types of Hashtags for your Business:

Instagram breaks hashtags down into nine types of hashtags for business.

  1. Product or service hashtags: These are basic keywords to describe your product or service, like #iPhonecase or #yogastudio

  2. Industry Instagram community hashtags: Instagram is comprised of communities, and these hashtags help you locate and connect with them. For example: #scubadiver or #lifestylereporter

  3. Location hashtags: While you can geo-tag your Instagram post, it helps you stand out by using your location as a hashtag, as in #nycbrunch or #indyeats

  4. Niche hashtags: These indicate where you fit in the context of your industry, like #illustratorsofinstagram or #graffitiofig

  5. Special event or seasonal hashtags: you know, things like #happysweet16 or #happynewyear

  6. Daily hashtags: You can use a hashtag for every day of the week, like  #MotivationMonday straight through to #Sundaybrunch.

  7. Relevant phrase hashtags: These hashtags combine elements of product hashtags, niche hashtags, and community hashtags. Essentially, they’re ways Instagram users connect to existing communities in a more specific way, like #longhairdontcare or styleyourself

  8. Acronym hashtags: These are hashtags you’ve probably used numerous times and have widespread international popularity, such as #FBF for flashback Friday or #OOTD for outfit of the day or even #PSL for pumpkin spice latte.

  9. Emoji hashtags: Many hashtags have been overused and become  ineffective. Adding an emoji or emojis to your hashtag can give it new life amongst you and other users. For instance, #shoes👟 or #fallvibes🧡

Keep in Mind Hashtag Density:

Hashtags have a high or low density, which affects the amount competition and engagement potential for your post.

Hashtag Density Infographic

High Density Hashtags: Used in 500K+ posts and equate to higher competition to rank and more difficulty to reach other users.

Low Density Hashtags: Used in a lower amount of posts, with less competition to rank, making it easier to reach other users.

We recommend using a mix of both high and low density hashtags in your posts to reach a broader audience.

Other Tips for Optimal Hashtag Use:

  • Create branded hashtags to generate engagement using your business name or something easy to relate to your brand.

Use Branded Hashtags for Engagement

You can build your brand using custom hashtags that can gain traction over time. Encourage customers to use your branded hashtag in posts related to your business. Be sure to follow your brand’s hashtag to track the engagement around it.

  • Determine what hashtags are popular and trending by network

(according to your brand, industry and audience).

    – We recommend studying your competitors and any relevant influencers within your brand’s niche.

    – Monitor which hashtags your competitors or influencers use most often and the amount of hashtags they use in each of their posts. This will help you learn how your competitors are engaging with your shared target audience and which keywords appeal to them.

  • Use a hashtag tool:

    • is a tool that helps you find the best Twitter hashtags or Instagram hashtags for your brand.

    • With this tool, you can search any hashtag and see how popular it is. For example, if you search the popularity of #ThrowbackThursday, you will get results showing you this hashtag’s overall popularity, its recent popularity, and the trends for the month and week.

to learn which hashtags are most relevant to your network and niche. Hootsuite has a social listening tool that enables your brand to  use search streams to discover which hashtags are the best for all the social networks it uses. Simply, search streams make it easy to see which hashtags are the most popular and the most effective.

  • Determine which hashtags are trending.

RiteTag is an application that generates trending hashtag suggestions based on your content.

With a bit of time and patience, deploying these tactics in your hashtag use should give your business an ongoing boost across your social channels.

Need extra help improving your social media marketing for your business? Give us a ring!