How to Use Hashtags Properly

Christian Lowery
Apr 14 · 4 min read

When it comes to hashtags, less is more.

Hashtags, love ’em or hate ’em, are a huge part of today’s digital marketing world. We’ve come a long way since the first hashtag made it’s way to Twitter in 2007. But years of overuse have led to hashtag burnout, and brands that#hashtag #every #other #word appear inauthentic and run the risk of annoying their audience.

The secret to using hashtags properly is moderation. You don’t need to reach every corner of the internet in every post.

While hashtags are still a great way to promote your content, using too many of them can actually lead to a drop in engagement. There is a fine line between using one or two hashtags to reach more people and using 30 hashtags that take up 90 percent of the character limit.

The secret to using hashtags properly is moderation. You don’t need to reach every corner of the internet in every post. Instead, focus on originating and branding your own hashtags, engaging with one or two hashtags that pertain to your industry, and consider playing Twitter hashtag games for fun.

Tips for using hashtags properly:

1. Use them in moderation, no more than two

2. Originate a hashtag for your social media campaigns

3. Engage with trending hashtags that pertain to your industry

4. Play Twitter hashtag games for fun


But first, the evidence that shows how hashtags kill content.

According to a study by Twitter, “a tweet that doesn’t include a # or @ mention will generate 23 percent more clicks.” And as Buffer writes, “your engagement actually drops by an average of 17 percent” when using more than two hashtags.

So why are hashtags so distracting? It all comes down to color. Hashtags show as clickable links that differ in color from the other text in your social media captions. If used too heavily, these colored links distract from the action you actually want the user to take — like clicking through to your demand-gen content.

While hashtags help you reach new people, on the flip side, their absence can increase your CTR.

As the Twitter study showed, using no hashtags or mentions at all leads to a higher overall CTR. This is likely because, without hashtags, the audience has nothing to click on but your link. So while hashtags help you reach new people, on the flip side, their absence can increase your CTR.

Use hashtags in moderation

When used in moderation, hashtags are an excellent way to grow brand awareness, generate new followers and engage with your target audience. Rather than dumping dozens of them in your captions, use them sparingly to drive specific actions.

Originate your own hashtag for social media campaigns

Remember the buzz around Gillette’s ad, “The Best A Man Can Get?” The company created the hashtag #TheBestMenCanBe to launch a new short film and accompanying website, and the hashtag quickly went viral and threw Gillette into the spotlight. Even other hashtags like #BoycottGillette and #WellDoneGillette were born amidst the tweetstorm.

Gillette’s campaign is a great example of why original hashtags are so important. They drive engagement to a specific goal, which in Gillette’s case was to drive awareness around ‘The Best Man Can Be’ Grant.

“Don’t expect people to use your hashtag without a reason or incentive. The best hashtags draw people in and invoke curiosity to explore and join in on the conversation.”

Twitter for Business

When you create original hashtags, remember to put yourself in the shoes of your target customer. Think of what they’re interested in, use research and data to guide you, then hashtag it.

Engage with trending hashtags that pertain to your industry

When NASA noticed it was trending on Twitter, it quickly found out that the trend wasn’t talking about space exploration, but rather Ariana Grande’s new song, “NASA.” NASA quickly jumped on the trend and responded to Grande’s tweet, including a link to “check out the universe.”

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Play hashtag games on Twitter

Hashtag Roundup is one of the best, and most fun, ways to increase brand awareness on Twitter. All you have to do is play along and relate the current hashtag to your brand or industry. Recent hashtag games include #OfficeSpaceSongsOrBands, #ImAtThatAgeWhere, #ClickBaitThatWorksOnMe, #UpgradeAQuote, and #MyRantandRave. Don’t forget to add a GIF for a little humor.


How to find the right hashtags

The best place to find trending hashtags is directly on Twitter. The platform’s new look includes a top bar with a hashtag icon, as shown below.

Set up your interests when prompted, and Twitter will show you relevant hashtags and trends catered to you. You can also use hashtag finding tools like Ritetag and Trendsmap, which show you real-time trending topics across the globe. Use these services to grow your overall reach, impressions and follower count.

When it comes down to it hashtags are a great way to build your brand, as long as you use them sparingly and strategically.

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