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What are hashtags?

In principle, hashtags are a tool to categorise content and link topics together. They’re clickable, making it an easy way to navigate and connect to other users who are also talking about the best football team (#MUFC), your current TV show obsession (#CelebsGoDating) or even keeping up to date with the latest #COVID19 news.

Having originated on Twitter, hashtags are now everywhere and have now become a fundamental part of life, even away from social media – from finding their ways into the top charts with The Chainsmokers’ #Selfie peaking at number 11 in 2014, to people being #SorryNotSorry for using hashtags in daily conversations:

Hashtags have even become an essential part of saying I do:

How to use hashtags

Three are only three key points to remember when using hashtags:

  • No spaces
  • No punctuation
  • No special characters

Capitalisation isn’t strictly essential, but when using more than one word in a hashtag, capitalising the first letter of each word keeps it easy to read. Fun fact – the official term for this is “camel case” – because the capital letters form camel-like humps in the words. Not only does it look more aesthetically pleasing, but it’s significantly better for accessibility purposes and enables visually impaired users to read hashtags much easier.

In case you needed reminding why camel case matters, take a look at when Susan Boyle’s PR team accidently created a viral buzz around her new album release:

Why use hashtags?

  • Hashtags help your target audience find you. Created with the intent to discover, using the right hashtag can put you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t previously interacted with you. For example, someone who is interested in finding #streetstyle might come across your fashion brand through searching for inspiration on Instagram.
  • Hashtags are useful for research. What are people currently saying about #Etsy or #LuxuryHomesOfTheWorld? You can easily discover your audience’s feelings about a topic through their use of hashtags, as well as any problems they have come across, which is key to informing your strategy.
  • Hashtags can bring people together. #DogsOfInstagram currently has 228million posts on Instagram and connects a community of dog owners and dog lovers alike.

Remember that hashtags are a snack and not the whole meal – try not to write entire sentences in hashtags. #SentencesThatLookLikeThisForTheSakeOfUsingAHashtag are confusing, niche and are unlikely to be widely searched for, thus making the hashtag useless.

Our biggest tip? Not all hashtags are created equally. Don’t forget to optimise your hashtag strategy to suit specific channels– unique-to-platform algorithms reward and penalise different hashtag approaches. What works on Instagram won’t work on LinkedIn – so make sure to refine your hashtag strategies at a platform level.

Ultimately, hashtags are here to stay with their powers to unite people, create conversation and drive engagement at scale, brands simply can’t afford to not use them. #Fact

Ready to start using hashtags in your social media strategy? Get in touch with one of our social media experts to discover what we can deliver for you: creative@social.co.uk