7 Easy to Follow Rules to Get on Top of the #Hashtag Game

July 8, 2017

Hashtags are the essence of social media presence and engagement. Using them properly can gain you massive audience while #spamming will leave you with a huge amount of unfollows. How can those tiny symbols make such an impact on information feeds?Social media feeds nowadays are flooded with hash marks. We can see them everywhere - on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, websites, email's and even in print in various billboards or newspapers. Why everyone tends to use it and more importantly, is using this symbol gives you anything?


Definition of hashtag from Oxford dictionary

In simple words hashtag is a word or phrase preceded with a hash mark (#) without any spaces or punctuations, to identify the topic or message to which the post is related to. It's like a keyword that gives users the chance to browse multiple publications about a specific subject.

Whenever a user uses a hashtag, his post is indexed and added to wide database, from wich it becomes searchable by a community. Clicking on "#" takes us to the search page, from where we can see all the mentions in which certain keyword was used by users. When hashtag gains enough popularity and engagement, it becomes trending - which usually means that everyone can see what's the "hot" conversation topic right now and join the chat.


The first use of hashtag was made by Google employee back in 2007 in the form of proposition to Twitter company. He thought of the idea of channeling the conversations based on topics instead of followers and leaders of opinions. For him, it was like adding a keyword to a phrase, what will result in the opportunity for everybody to join the feed about a certain subject.

first hashtag mention made by Chris Mesina


Hashtags give you big opportunities when it comes to delivering your message to a wider audience. You can either try to create your own hashtag for everyone to use or focus on using trending ones in building your campaign.There are few main rules of "hashtagging":

  1. Don't use many words at a time!
  2. It will be harder for users to retype the phrase and will shorten your word limit of your message (on Twitter for example).When describing events from the latest RedBull X games use just #Xgames or #RedBull instead of #RedBullXGames
  1. Use hashtags only related to your message!
  2. Using unrelated hashtags, just because they are popular at the moment, can lead to no engagement and lower your position in social media algorithms when someone will report your tweet/post for being misleadingSuch behavior can lead to suspension of your account, as said in the official Twitter rules!
  1. Don't spam your audience with different "#"!
  2. This can surely make your audience bigger, but you will only gain ghost followers and audience focused on the same thing as you - just gaining as much audience as possible, and not real customers (popular #like4like or #f4f)
  1. that's not the kind of audience that you're looking for
  1. Use hashtag only when commenting on some topic, not informing about it!
  2. For example, don't use "#LondonMarathon" if you are writing a post saying that today there will be a marathon in London.#LondonMarathon is rather for people that run in the event and wants to share some photos, have thoughts about the coordination, or the staff which wants to inform the runners that the run will be delayed
  1. Check if the hashtag wasn't used before!
  2. Always check if the "#" you want to use isn't referring to something else.The best example is Entenmann's "#NotGuilty" hashtag, that was associated with the "not guilty" verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial.
  1. Later on they deleted the tweet and apologized for the misunderstood post.
  1. Use more focused and precise keywords!
  2. Don't include hashtags with phrases or words which can be used to describe every topic, like #long, #place, #far etc. Using such keywords can lead to connecting your message with another unrelated one - like in this example with one hashtag there are 3 messages about car repair, friendship, and army record
  1. the same hashtag can describe many completely different topics
  2. Use up to 2-3 hashtags in one message!
  3. Sometimes less is more. Messages with more than 3 hashtags will gain less reach and engagement due to statistics made by HubSpot.
  1. the same hashtag can describe many completely different topics


Due to many misuses are often underestimated or even ridiculed. One of the most popular satire about hashtag use was made by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Of course NBC producers, on one hand, makes fun of hashtags, while on the other hand they use it repeatedly to engage their audience and are the source of many trending topics each week in the US.

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