Social Media

How to Use Hashtags in 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

Why learn how to use hashtags? Hashtags are one of the most popular tools on social media, but their usage has changed a lot over the years.

What was once a way to categorize tweets is now a tool that can be used for marketing, branding, and even SEO.

So, how to use hashtags in 2024?

This guide will show you how to use them on every major social network, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

What is a Hashtag?

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a “#” symbol. Hashtags are used to categorize content and track topics on social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

The first use of the octothorpe for hashtags was in the summer of 2007 by Chris Messina, a marketing specialist. Messina proposed that the octothorpe symbol be used to group related tweets and make them more easily searchable on Twitter.

The idea quickly caught on, and today, the hashtag is one of the most widely recognized symbols on the internet.

But, why should you know how to use hashtags?

Beyond grouping related content, hashtags have other benefits that we’ll discuss in the next section.

Benefits Of Learning How To Use Hashtags

From helping you promote your brand and connect with a broader audience to staying up-to-date with what’s happening in your field, there are rich benefits to learning how to use hashtags.

Let’s look at these in detail.

Enhance Brand Awareness

According to Twitter, hashtags help you connect with people and stay in touch with what’s happening. This can help increase message association by 18% while increasing brand awareness by 8%.

Lululemon, a Canada-based athletic apparel company, is a prime example of how to use hashtags to spread brand awareness.

It encourages its customers to live an active lifestyle and to sweat every day and the company's motto, “living #thesweatlife”, reflects this.

Image via Instagram

The hashtag campaign has resulted in 1,506,403 user-generated posts (and counting).

Boost Engagement

Another important reason to learn how to use hashtags is that you can boost brand engagement on social media platforms with them.

According to HubSpot’s recent research, using hashtags is one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness and engagement.

Image via HubSpot

The logic is simple. Hashtags make it easy for people to find your posts. The more the number of people that view your posts, the higher are the chances of getting likes, shares, and comments.

Gain Followers

The very purpose of using hashtags is to categorize content and help people who are interested in specific topics find them. Social media platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn allow users to follow hashtags as well. This helps people see the latest posts for each hashtag.

By using popular hashtags, you can ensure your posts are found by those interested in your content.

For instance, if you are in the cupcake business, you can use relevant hashtags such as #cupcakeideas or #cupcakeart to expose your content to your target audience. Here’s an example.

Image via Instagram

This makes it easy for those who are following the hashtags(#cupcakeideas or #cupcakeart) to find your post and follow your account.

Save Space and Add Context

Learning how to use hashtags will also benefit you in another way. You can save space and add context to your content at the same time with relevant hashtags. As a result, you won’t have to use long captions to convey the context.

Take a look at the way Roger Federer Foundation adds context for this post. As you can see, the hashtags convey the purpose of the founder’s visit to Zambia, adding context in an effective way.

Image via Instagram

Support a Cause

Brands that take a stand on social issues are favored by 68% of consumers.

Learning how to use hashtags will help your brand show support for the cause you believe in and improve brand loyalty.

Taggbox is a great example of how you can use hashtags to support a cause. During Pride month, the user-generated content platform started the #ExpressWithPride campaign on Twitter to embrace “love without any labels.”

Image via Twitter

Disclose Brand Partnerships

If your brand wants to partner with an influencer, you can ask them to use a branded hashtag.

Here’s an example of how Instagram influencer Julia Jornsay-Silverberg has used #canyonbakehouse while disclosing a paid partnership with the company.

Image via Instagram

Improve Your Content

Hashtags can also help you track the performance of your content. By looking at the analytics of a particular hashtag, you can see how many people have used it and how much engagement it's generated.

Image via RiteTag

This information can be valuable in tailoring future content to what performs well.

Types of Hashtags

Now that you know why hashtags are helpful, let’s take a look at the three most common types of hashtags.

Branded Hashtags

A branded hashtag is a hashtag that’s specific to a certain brand or company. It can be used to promote a product, identity, or event associated with that brand. It could be something as simple as the brand’s name.

For instance, Daniel Wellington uses the hashtag #DanielWellington.

Campaign Hashtags

A campaign hashtag can help you spread brand awareness while serving multiple goals, such as:

  • Getting social media users to participate
  • Promoting events
  • Organizing a contest
  • Supporting a cause

L’Oréal Paris, for instance, started the #WorthSaying hashtag campaign to encourage women to talk about the issues that matter to them.

Image via Twitter

Trending Hashtags

A trending hashtag, as the name suggests, is a hashtag that’s wildly popular at a particular point of time. Typically, it refers to the currently popular or viral hashtags. Using trending and popular hashtags can help you boost brand visibility and engagement.

For example, KFC jumped on the bandwagon of the trending hashtag, #NationalFriedChickenDay. By combining it with a promotion, the brand enjoyed thousands of views and impressions.

Let’s now get to the point: how to use hashtags.

How to Use Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to get your content seen by more people, and can be used on almost any social media platform. Here are some tips to use hashtags correctly:

1. Set Goals for Your Hashtag Campaign

Before you start using hashtags, it's important to understand what your goals are for using them. Are you looking to grow your reach and engagement on social media? Or are you trying to build a community around a certain topic or interest?

The type of hashtags you use will depend on your goal.

For example, if your goal is to spread brand awareness, you can use branded hashtags.

Case in point—K18, a hair product company, uses the hashtag #k18hair to create brand awareness and expand its reach.

Image via Instagram

The brand was able to increase its TikTok audience to 20K in just one month of launching the hashtag.

If you want to show your support for a cause, you can create a specific hashtag relevant to the cause.

Make-A-Wish America created the hashtag #SFBatkid to fulfill the wish of a 5-year-old Miles Scott, a cancer sufferer, to be Batkid for one day.

The viral hashtag campaign generated 1.7 billion impressions and over 500,000 tweets from 117 countries.

Image via Twitter

2. Know Your Target Audience

In order to use relevant hashtags effectively on social media, you also need to understand your target audience.

Asking these questions will help you create your target audience’s profile:

  • What demographics (age, location, income, interests, gender, etc) are you targeting?
  • What are the topics and issues that are most important to them?
  • What words and phrases do they use to describe these topics?
  • Which social media platforms do they use the most?
  • What type of content do they engage with on these platforms?

You can use surveys and market research to understand your audience. Another way is to use the analytics features that most social platforms offer.

For instance, Page Insights on Facebook helps you understand audience demographics.

Image via Buffer

Once you have a good understanding of your target audience, you can start to research which hashtags are most relevant to them.

3. Get the Basics Right

How are hashtags actually written? Here are some tips to get the basics right:

  • Hashtags are written without spaces, for example, #photoshoot or #explorepage.
  • You can include numbers but there should not be any punctuation marks or symbols.
  • You can place hashtags anywhere in the post. If using hashtags for videos, you can place them in the title and the description. You can also add hashtags to Instagram Stories and Reels.
  • Use a mix of upper and lower case letters to improve readability. Note that hashtags are not case-sensitive. Whether you write #ExplorePage or #explorepage, you will get the same results but the former is easier to read.
  • Ensure your social media account is public. If you have set it to private, only your followers will be able to see your posts.
  • Keep the hashtag short and sweet to help users remember it.

4. Find Relevant Hashtags

There are several tactics you can use to find the right hashtags for achieving your goals.

Look at Trending Hashtags

Here’s how you can find trending hashtags on any given day on different platforms.

Instagram

Go to the search tab and type in a related word or phrase. You will get a list of the most popular (and similar) hashtags related to what you have typed.

Image via Instagram

Twitter

Twitter has several tabs showing the top posts in several categories like this:

Image via Twitter

These posts are shown based on the location setting in Twitter accounts. Now, go to the “Trending” tab to see what is trending in your location. You can change the location to see the trending posts in any other location as well. This brings up a list of hashtags.

Image via Twitter

Facebook

Finding Facebook hashtags is easy. The platform has an autocomplete feature as well in its search engine. Just type the word or phrase and it will show you popular and similar hashtags. Click on each hashtag to view how many people have used it.

Image via Facebook

YouTube

Similar to other social media platforms, YouTube shows a list of hashtags when you type in a word.

Image via YouTube

There is also a “Trending” page where you can see the most popular videos across categories and find the best YouTube hashtags for your niche.

LinkedIn

Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn does not have the autocomplete feature to show you the most popular hashtags. You need to go to the Content Hub to explore trending topics and subtopics, and then find the hashtags used in them.

Image via LinkedIn

Study Your Competitors

To stay ahead of your competition, it is important to study them and see which hashtags they are using.

For this, you can simply search for your competitor's name on social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. This will bring up a list of all the recent posts that mention your competitor, along with the hashtags they used.

Use Hashtag Generators

Hashtag generators are online tools that allow you to input a word or phrase and generate a list of related hashtags. This can be helpful when you’re trying to come up with relevant hashtags for your content.

There are a few different types of hashtag generators. Some, like Hashtagify, generate popular hashtags based on your word or phrase.

You can also find plenty of Hashtagify alternatives that will help you

  • Find trending hashtags in any location
  • Discover relevant and similar hashtags
  • Easily add, delete, or copy the suggested tags
  • Get in-depth analytics on daily uploads, competition, and posts

Of course, you can also come up with your own branded hashtags and experiment with them.

5. Know How Many Hashtags to Use

Along with knowing how to use hashtags, it is important to avoid going overboard when using them.

Here are the recommended number of hashtags on each platform:

The best way to arrive at the right number is to test different numbers to see what works best for your content and audience.

6. Add a Mix of Hashtags

Including a mix of generic and specific hashtags in your posts is a great way to reach a wider audience while still targeting your niche.

Generic hashtags, such as #love or #instagood, are popular tags that can help your content be seen by more people. However, they are also very broad and can be used for almost any type of content. As a result, your content could get lost in the sea of posts using these hashtags.

Specific hashtags are more targeted and can help you reach a specific group of people who are interested in your niche.

For example, if you’re a travel blogger, using the hashtag #travelblogger will help you connect with other travel bloggers and potential readers who might be interested in your content.

Niche and targeted hashtags such as #fashionforkids may have fewer followers but the less number of posts would mean that your content could get discovered easily.

You can use hashtag analytics tools to find relevant, niche hashtags for your brand and location. These tools give you insights on ranking difficulty, the top hashtags for a keyword, and post activity to help you pick the right ones.

7. Track the Hashtag Campaign Performance

An important part of learning how to use hashtags involves knowing how to track their performance so you can make ongoing improvements.

There are a few key metrics you'll want to track:

  • Overall reach of the hashtag campaign
  • Engagement with the campaign (likes, comments, shares)
  • Sentiment around the campaign
  • Hashtag usage over time
  • New followers/customers

FAQs

Q1. What is the point of a hashtag?

A. Hashtags are a way to categorize and find content on social media. They help people find content that is relevant to their interests, and enable businesses to promote their products and services to a wider audience.

Q2. What is an example of a hashtag?

A. A hashtag is a word or phrase prefixed with the symbol #. For example, #throwbackthursday or #tbt.

Q3. How do I activate a hashtag?

A. You can activate a hashtag by using it in your posts and tagging it with the “hashtag” label. This will allow you to track the performance of the hashtag and see how many people are using it.

Q4. How do you properly use hashtags?

A. Start by researching your target audience to know what type of posts they engage with on different platforms. Based on your marketing goal, find relevant hashtags on each channel by manually searching or using hashtag generator tools.

Avoid adding too many hashtags and use the right tools to track the performance of your hashtag.

Q5. How to create a hashtag?

A. You can create a hashtag by adding the “#” symbol before a word or phrase (without spaces, emojis, and symbols).

The Takeaway

Now that you understand how to use hashtags, it's time to start using them in your social media posts. Be sure to use relevant, popular hashtags that will help get your content seen by more people.

It’s also important to use hashtags carefully and follow the hashtag best practices mandated by different platforms.

Above all, remember that stellar content will always play a key role in boosting the engagement and reach of your posts.

If you need help with content marketing or finding relevant influencers to promote your brand, get in touch with us.

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav Sharma is the Founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. Grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic | 5K keywords on page 1. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business2Community, TechCrunch, and more.

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