Social Media Hashtags 101

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Time to read: 4 min, 15 sec

If you’re scrolling through your social media newsfeed, you’re more than likely used to seeing a pound sign (#) all over your pages followed by letters, words or phrases. This is the hashtag phenomenon.

Today, we shall talk about why hashtags are so darn important and ways you can find the perfect hashtags to use in your social posts. So, for those of you who are new to the whole social media or hashtag thing, this article is just for you.

The Beginning of “The Hashtag”

According to Twitter, “the hashtag is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet” as a way for users to categorize their messages. Essentially it is a way for users to search a certain topic and find all social posts about the topic on that social media platform. The hashtag was actually created by Twitter users, and a couple years later the social company caught on and began hyperlinking all hashtags in tweets. Like usual, other social media outlets caught on as well and now you can find hashtags on Facebook, Pinterest, and more.

Why Should I Care About Hashtags?

When building your presence and brand on social media, the hashtag you use can be just as important as the rest of the message. Why? If you send a tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag can find your tweet. That means hashtags are a great way to reach people who aren’t directly connected with you on social. For businesses, this means that you can reach new customers that are looking for information about your industry. If you can answer their question or impress the user, they are more inclined to buy your product or service.

The negative side is that if you don't understand what the hashtag actually means, you could be putting your brand name in a query that is inappropriate or does not match with your brand's values. So always be sure to see what the tweets are in that stream before adding it to your brand's post.

The bottom line? Hashtags do more than categorizing a topic, they connect people who care about those topics.

Hashtagging Like a Boss

So how do you know which hashtags are worth your time, or as they say in the social media biz, trending? There are a few tools out there that can lead you to some great ideas for your personal or business account, and be super beneficial. Here are a few we recommend taking a look at:


Trendsmap is a website that keeps track of trending Twitter hashtags by location, making it easy to search hashtags by the region you’re in. With this information, you can create custom tweet campaigns by location for your company, which are likely to relate to the target audience in the area around you. What might be trending on a day like today in Minneapolis? “#minnesnowta,” of course! is also a great tool for tracking hashtags on Twitter. If you are stumped trying to find a hashtag to use, this website gives over 35.4 million hashtags from their platform to look at and choose from. You type in the topic you’re researching and the website gives you trending correlations that would work for your hashtag topic. This will allow you to liven up your tweets and make them original.


If you’ve ever been confused by the meaning of a hashtag, have no fear. Tagdef is your solution. Tagdef is there to explain those acronyms and condensed terms. For example, #fbf. Tagdef says that #fbf has two meanings: followback Friday and flashback Friday. A followback Friday is if you follow me I will follow you, or if you favorite a certain tweet I will give you a follow. Flashback Friday is a memory or picture from a past experience posted on Friday. Basically, this of Tagdef as a dictionary and thesaurus in one.


SocialMention is a free social media search and analysis tool that tracks hashtags in real-time. You can use it to search for hashtags across social networks and get a list of all the hashtag mentions online.

Everything is Good in Moderation

Now that you know enough about hashtags to start making use of them on social media, remember not to go too overboard. As Happy Dog’s CEO Ryan Boog said: “Hashtags, like neon colors, Tabasco, and knock-knock jokes, are best used in moderation.” 

In addition, depending on which social network you’re using, there are different hashtag best practices. On Twitter and Pinterest you should only use one or two but Instagram you should use over 10. Check out BufferSocial’s “A Scientific Guide to Hashtags: How Many, Which Ones, and Where to Use Them.” Also, check out our post “Are Hashtags Ridiculous?” from a few months back.


What do you think about hashtags? Are there any best practices that have worked for you? Add your questions or feedback to the comments section below.

Written by Maddi Smith

Maddi Smith

Social media strategy is exciting to me and I love learning something new every day. It's amazing what power social media has on the internet and in our lives.

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