Learn how to create a hashtag that’s powerful enough to get your brand noticed. Get suggestions for formatting and creating hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
In 2007, a small group of Twitter friends wanted to make conversations easier to follow. Early Twitter user Chris Messina suggested using the pound symbol, and the hashtag was born.
Today, the hashtag has grown into a powerful way to unite people in conversations across the most popular social media channels: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
In this article, we show you how to create a hashtag that can boost your brand’s visibility and engagement rates. You’ll learn how to conduct hashtag research and tailor your hashtag to specific social platforms, so people can join conversations about your content, brand, events, or posts.
What Is a Hashtag?
Hashtags are short phrases or words preceded by the “#” sign. They are included in social media posts. Here are a few examples of what hashtags look like:
When you add a hashtag to a social media post, it becomes a clickable link that directs users to a list of other discussions and content that share the same hashtag.
Besides performing the role of a mini search engine within a social media channel, hashtags also can be used to attract the attention of large audiences. For example, by joining a conversation about a trending topic, smaller brands have the potential to get discovered and skyrocket their visibility.
How to Conduct Hashtag Research in 4 Steps
The first step in creating a hashtag that gets your brand noticed is research. Before you create a hashtag, take the time to learn what’s working for:
- Related and trending content
- Your specific audience
Step 1: Research Related Content and Trending Hashtags
Before you choose a hashtag for your campaign or post, learn what’s popular with your audience.
Step 2: Study Influencer Hashtags
Take a look at which hashtags are working for the influencers in your industry. Are there any that would be a great fit for your campaign?
For example, if you type “foodie” into the FollowerWonk search engine, you see a page of top Twitter influencers who use the #foodie hashtag.
By clicking on the top influencer, you reach his Twitter feed where you can browse his posts for more hashtag ideas.
Step 3: Research Your Audience
When it comes to creating powerful marketing campaigns, there’s no such thing as too much audience research. Get to know the specifics of your audience and your competitors’ audiences, so you can find out what hashtags they respond to.
The following are important questions to ask when researching your audience:
- What hashtags do people include when talking about your brand?
- What hashtags do your competitors use that work well for their audiences?
- What hashtags do people using when talking about your industry or related products?
Step 4: Avoid Bad Hashtags and Keep Them Productive
Avoid ineffective hashtags by thoroughly researching the search results connected to your hashtag on every social channel. Watch out for hashtags with double meanings that could bring up content that may be disturbing or inappropriate.
Keep your phrase short: Don’t create #ALongStringOfTextNoOneWillRemember.
Once you’ve done your research and created a list of hashtags to choose from, decide which might be the most productive for your current campaign or goals. You can use hashtags for things like:
- Special Promotions
- Content topics
Hashtags Should Be Specific and Short
There are several basic formatting rules that a business should keep in mind when creating hashtags.
When creating hashtags, remember to:
- Keep them specific
- Keep them short and memorable
- Check your spelling
- Never begin a post with a hashtag
Keep them specific. For example, if you’re selling recipes and you choose a general hashtag like #Recipes, clicking on it will probably result in your post getting lost among millions of similarly-tagged posts.
Instead, try narrowing your description to something more specific such as #QuickChocolateRecipe.
Keep hashtags short and memorable. If you’re creating a unique hashtag for a campaign or event, don’t get carried away with long phrases or acronyms that will be quickly forgotten. Keep it relevant and easy to remember such as Purina’s #PetsAtWork.
Capitalize the first letter of every word and don’t add any other punctuation, symbols, or spaces.
Check your spelling.
Never begin a post with a hashtag.
Hashtags can be placed at the end of a post or worked into the middle of a comment, like this: "Today we’re testing a #QuickChocolateRecipe. Wish me luck on the chocolate mousse! #LearnToBake"
By following these rules, you can ensure your hashtags are productive and memorable.
Use Appropriate Hashtags for Each Social Media Channel
Hashtags are popular tools for engagement on Twitter and Instagram, but they’re also allowed on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Youtube. They’re used differently on every channel, so get to know the proper applications for each channel before you use them.
Instagram Hashtag Suggestions
Instagram hashtags are most commonly used to describe a photo.
The platform allows you to include as many as 30 hashtags per post, but that may not be a smart approach. Instead of trying to generate irrelevant traffic with 30 hashtags, select a small number of relevant tags that target your niche audience.
Saturating your posts with hashtags can also be interpreted as spam, which may cause people to ignore the post.
Twitter Hashtag Suggestions
Twitter hashtags are commonly used to describe a discussion or topic.
Use at least one and no more than two hashtags per post. Place at least one of the hashtags at the end of the post and before a shared URL.
Facebook Hashtag Suggestions
Hashtags may lower your Facebook engagement rate. One study found a correlation between hashtag use and lowered engagement rates on Facebook.
If you’re interested in using hashtags on Facebook, review opinions from experts first to learn how you might take advantage of the benefits, without risking lower engagement rates.
LinkedIn Hashtag Suggestions
Hashtag use on LinkedIn isn't as popular as on other social media networks, probably because it’s a B2B channel with a slightly different personality.
However, they’re gaining popularity and aren’t harmful if you use them tactfully.
YouTube Hashtag Suggestions
Google suggests adding hashtags to your video titles when you upload them for easier discovery in search engines.
The YouTube hashtag page shows you how to add hashtags to your video titles. The same page includes a list of simple hashtag policies that you should review before using them on Youtube.
Create Your Hashtags and Get Noticed
Now that you understand what hashtags are, how to research the best ones, and how to format them on each social media channel, you’re ready to get started using them in your social media campaigns.
Experiment with hashtags in your posts and shares so that you get a feel for them before assigning one to an event or campaign.
Once you understand how to use and create hashtags, they can become a fun and effective way to bring new traffic to your community.