# Hashtag

What?

Have you ever put much thought into what a hashtag does and why everyone is using them? Did you also know there is a wrong way to use them. Let me share some information I learned with you.

In the beginning

ChrisMessina tweetJust over one year after the launch of Twitter, in 2007, a technology developer and self-styled ‘hash godfather’ Chris Messina tweeted the suggestion to use the pound sign (In the programmer world it’s called a hash) as an indicator to group tweets around a common word or phrase. Essentially giving us a way to search for a common topic and to group them together. Making a word or post discoverable to a wider audience beyond your immediate followers. When someone clicks on or searches for a specific hashtag, they can see all the posts that have used that hashtag, regardless of whether they follow the accounts that posted those messages. As you are probably aware, Instagram has taken this to a whole new level.

Make it meaningful

How to make a hashtag Meaningful – I had a girlfriend that posted on Facebook once about her and her dog having a quiet afternoon together. She ended the post with a hashtag #ilovemylazydog. I literally searched her hashtag and there was one picture of her lazy dog, and I realized, although creative, it’s not a tag worth using. Especially if you are a small business owner and you are trying to get noticed online. Hashtags do need to be meaningful and aren’t effective if they aren’t already being used by others.

You can also use hashtags that are trending. Using one that reflects a popular discussion or event can help you reach a larger audience but do make sure that your content is relevant to that trend or event. Why not check out what your competition is using for tags and use those to reach the same audience they are targeting.

With that you also need to consider avoiding overuse, so as to not be spammy and take into consideration what platform you are on.

Change Your Math, Change Your Business, Change Your Life

Hashtag wordcloudFacebook is pretty quiet when it comes to hashtags, and they weren’t really used until 2016 but you can use 2-3 recommended and up to 5 max for longer posts. Some people do, some don’t, so that’s up to you. LinkedIn uses them but again recommends only 3 or 5 at a time, so as to not look spammy.

Now with Instagram, you can use up to 30 at a time. Any more than that and your post will be rejected. For best practices though, I would consider how long your post is and use a varying amount. If you only have a couple lines of text, then I wouldn’t put in 30 tags as that will distract from your post. You can also put them in your first comment in Instagram when using a scheduling platform. The longer the post the more you use. And make sure to switch up the order of the hashtags. Instagram’s algorithm is smart and knows if you are just cut and pasting your list of tags. Each post should be “unique”.

Let’s talk about research

It’s a very good idea to research the hashtags you want to use so that they are relevant to your business and or topic, because not all are equal.

Using the Instagram search feature, you can type in a word or a couple words together and look at the Tags
column to see a list. There will be a number showing
under each one. That is the number of posts that have
currently used that hashtag and are grouped together. If you search #Network, there are at this point 7.3 million posts tagged. #networking has 13.4 million posts. Let me ask you this… will your post get  noticed? The rule of thumb is to use hashtags with varying amounts. Anything under 1000 or even 5000 may not be the most popular, but you have a better chance of being seen. Then sprinkle in anything from 5000 to a Million. Only in rare occasions will I put in any tags that are over the million mark.

Custom hashtags

You can create your own custom hashtags for events, campaigns, or specific discussions. Make sure they’re unique and easy to remember. All one word, no spaces and I don’t recommend using special characters or emojis as this could break your hashtag. Do your research to see what kind of posts are attached to that one already.

Remember that the effectiveness of hashtags can vary depending on the platform and the audience you’re trying to reach. Experiment with different hashtags, monitor engagement, and adjust your strategy accordingly to maximize your content’s visibility and impact.