Remember when # was just a weird button on your phone you never used? We’re going to break down some of the basics so you have a better understanding of how to use them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Hashtags became mainstream in 2007 after a designer asked his followers how they felt about using a pound sign to organize group conversations. Little did he know at the time, this tweet managed to change everything:  

Twitter soon introduced hashtags in their code, and the rest is history, as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social networks adopted hashtags in varying ways. 

At its most basic definition a hashtag is “used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it.”

The tricky thing about hashtags though is each social network uses them slightly differently.


Twitter is the irrefutable #HashtagKing. Think of every hashtag on Twitter like a conversation. There are millions of conversations occurring at once around the world on Twitter and you have to decide which ones are the most relevant for you. Keep these tips in mind:

  • If your account is public, everything you hashtag on Twitter is searchable, so think before you tweet!
  • Research what hashtags your audience tends to use. Strategically placing hashtags will help you engage your audience where they already are on Twitter.
  • Please don’t #hashtag #everything. #Your #audience #will #thank #you.


Facebook started using hashtags a little late in the game, to mixed results. Facebook added hashtags as an attempt to make topics more open and searchable, but users weren’t excited about the prospect of the possible intrusion into their privacy. In fact, “Facebook posts without a hashtag fare better than those with a hashtag.”

  • When it comes to using hashtags on Facebook, proceed with caution and only use them for specific promotions or trends. 
  • And closely monitor how they’re performing via Insights. If your posts with hashtags are underperforming, save those #s for another channel. 


Instagram uses hashtags to make your photos and videos discoverable. There are some hashtags that are used just to get followers, but in order for Instagram to be useful, you want to make sure you get followers that are actually interested in what you have to offer.

  • FYI: If you have a private profile, your posts won’t appear in hashtag searches. 
  • Numbers are allowed in Instagram hashtags, but special characters aren’t. You can also use emojis (like this: #🍋), so don’t be afraid to experiment, especially if you are building a brand that’s creative and quirky!
  • Similar to Twitter, make sure you research your hashtags to engage your audience where they’re already looking.
  • Post your hashtags as a comment on your photo instead of directly in your caption. Instead of your audience having to read “#instagood #photooftheday #nofilter, etc.” you can present a more polished caption.

Next week, we’ll talk more about hashtag campaigns and whether or not they’re worth it -- including some fun examples from the world of Instagram Yogis, presidential politics, and more!