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Marketing Social Media

Everything You Need To Know About Hashtags

8 Minute Read

Key Takeaways

  • Hashtags help organize your social media content and helps the algorithm understand what your content is about
  • Using hashtags on your posts can increase your engagement up to 79.5%
  • Helpful tools and websites can help you keep track of engaging hashtags
  • Although hashtags are useful, using them poorly can effect your content

What is a hashtag?

Hashtags, symbolized by the #, act as a powerful tool, categorizing and organizing content across numerous social media platforms. Hashtags were created by Chris Messina in 2007, when he wanted to spread awareness and recognition for the San Diego forest fires.

Today, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest, all encourage users to use hashtags in their posts, profiles, and comments, increasing the amount of users to explore trending topics and join relevant conversations with just a simple click. By strategically incorporating hashtags, users and brands can enhance their online presence, connect with their target audience, and amplify the visibility of their content in a crowded platform. 

Hashtag #Ten. On August 23, 2007, Chris Messina… | by Zeid ...

What is the purpose of a hashtag?

Without hashtags, social media algorithms would struggle to understand the essence and purpose of your content. Adding hashtags brings structure and organization to the chaos that is the social media algorithm. Hashtags, as previously mentioned, group conversations and topics under specific hashtags, which in return allows users to sift through the noise and find content that truly resonates with them.

Hashtags play a pivotal role in connecting users to content that matters to them, making the digital landscape a more navigable and engaging space for all.

Why should you use hashtags?

Now that we know the history of hashtags, it's important to understand why using hashtags can be beneficial to your content. 

Increase your engagement and reach

By incorporating hashtags, you can join in on broader discussions and trending subjects, ultimately expanding the reach of your posts, starting conversations, and drawing in even more interest.

Posts on Instagram that contain more than 11 hashtags experience the highest engagement levels, with a remarkable 79.5% boost for accounts with fewer than 1,000 followers. However, this is only for Instagram- doing this on another platform like Twitter or Tiktok can potentially harm your content. 

Keep an eye on these hashtags to engage with users actively participating in the conversation. Show your support by liking and commenting on relevant posts, sharing user-generated content, or even hosting a contest or giveaway using specific hashtags to boost interaction.

However, exercise caution – overloading your posts with spammy, irrelevant, or generic hashtags can backfire. Opt for carefully selected hashtags to connect with like-minded audiences, ensuring that your content is both valuable and engaging.

Increase visibility

Utilizing hashtags can significantly boost your brand's visibility by effectively categorizing your content, making it easily discoverable for anyone interested in that specific topic.

Users intrigued by a specific product, or actively seeking related information can easily discover your post through a simple search using these hashtags, which will overall increase your page reach, and visibility for your brand. With this brand visibility, including branded hashtags to assist users already familiar with your brand will make it easier for them to find your page. 

Gives your posts more context

Utilizing hashtags links your posts to particular subjects or concepts, simplifying the process for your audience to discover, connect with, and interact with your content while giving context on the video's topic. 

Hashtags can also be helpful when sharing short video or picture content, providing the perfect context without the need for lengthy paragraphs of text.


How to find the perfect hashtags

We looked into some affordable social media tools that can be affective for getting your brand's name out there using hashtags. 

Here are some of our helpful finds...

Tiktok Creative Center

Tiktok itself is working to help users go viral and get recognition for their brands via their creative center page. With their trend discovery tools, Tiktok highlights the hashtags that have increasing posts made with them, as well as increasing views. This makes it easy for users to know what hashtags are doing well, and which are falling short. Alongside this, they also offer an industry category, which you can separate trending hashtags based on the specific industry you are in and look at which hashtags would truly benefit your business. Tiktok has also installed an AI tool onto their website, making it easy to chat with an AI bot about any questions you have.

Although this tool is great, we suggest only using it for the Tiktok algorithm, since some hashtags may not be as effective when transferred over (example #ForYou is only on Tiktok).

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Price : Free


RiteTag specifically focuses on the popularity of hashtags, highlighting areas in a caption that could be transferred into hashtags, as well as adding hashtags at the end based on the context of the caption. This tool also has the ability to simply analyze an image and create hashtags based on its analysis. 

RiteTag highlights the latest trending hashtags, showcases popular accounts utilizing them, and assesses the hashtags you employ by rating them as exceptional, good, underused, or overused. It is a straightforward and user-friendly tool accessible to all.

However, similar to other budget-friendly and complimentary hashtag analysis tools, its primary focus lies in displaying the frequency of a specific hashtag's usage rather than delving into in-depth analytics.


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Price : $65/month

Display Purposes

Display Purposes filters through generic and overused hashtags that may be linked with being 'spammy' by certain algorithms, and gives you the hashtags that will boost your pictures or videos to the viewers who are really interested in that topic. Their tool not only sorts through trending hashtags for the images being posted, but Instagram Reels as well. 

As said with the Tiktok Creative Center, it seems like Display Purposes' algorithm specializes in deep diving into Instagram's data, so we recommend using it only for Instagram. 

Screenshot 2024-02-22 at 11.24.34 AM

Price : Free


Lastly, we recommend looking at the trending hashtags the 'old-school way'.

Look at your competitors, or those who are posting content similar to yours. Look at similar content that has a high engagement rate, and see what they're doing successfully. 

Using the same hashtags as a post that has gone viral or engages with an audience similar to yours can help the algorithm connect with viewers who have previously seen that previous content and interacted with it. 

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Price : Free

How NOT to use a hashtag

Although we always suggest using hashtags on your content, making sure you're using the proper hashtags is also important.

Here are some things you shouldn't do when picking your hashtags...

Only using trending hashtags

Avoid falling into the trap of only using popular hashtags. While it may seem tempting to jump on the bandwagon of trending hashtags for exposure, the reality is that you won't see sustainable results in the long run.

For example, the #ForYou that is constantly used on Tiktok does have a lot of posts, but it's easy for your posts to get unnoticed alongside them. These generic tags won't attract the right audience for your business. You might receive likes, but they may not come from individuals genuinely interested in your brand.

Posts containing relevant hashtags have a 55% higher chance of being retweeted.

Instead, focus on using hashtags that are tailored to your target audience, the content of your posts, or industry-specific keywords. Be strategic in your hashtag selection to ensure that you are reaching the right people and creating meaningful engagement.

No background research

Failing to conduct thorough research on the hashtags you intend to use can be a significant misstep for your content. Before incorporating a hashtag, take the time to search for it on Instagram or Twitter to observe the type of content and discussions associated with it. This simple research step can prevent potential issues and enhance the effectiveness of your hashtag strategy in the long run.

Continuing to use the same hashtags

Just like social media trends, hashtags are constantly changing. Not exploring new hashtags options can cause your content to be at a standstill, and not reach a new audience. 

Regularly update your list of hashtags and experiment with fresh ones. Social media is constantly evolving, and certain hashtags may become oversaturated over time. Embrace the opportunity to discover new hashtags that could better suit your brand or business goals.

Spamming hashtags

Overloading your post with hashtags can dilute your message, as readers tend to overlook captions with an abundance of hashtags. As mentioned previously, having a lot of hashtags, especially ones that aren't relevant to your brand, can harm your content and have no reach. If you spam your post with hashtags, the algorithm will have a difficult time on knowing who to specifically show your content too, since there are so many hashtags.

To maintain clarity and engagement, it's best to limit your hashtags to 1-3 within the body of your post. Anything more can result in a cluttered presentation that is difficult for readers to digest, as well as a confused algorithm. 

Irrelevant hashtags

Selecting hashtags that resonate with your brand's message and values is essential. By aligning your hashtags with the essence of your posts, you can effectively reach an audience that is genuinely interested in your content. This strategic approach ensures that your posts connect with the right people who are more likely to engage and share your content.

Incorporating relevant hashtags that reflect your brand's identity helps create a consistent online presence. It strengthens your brand messaging and allows you to connect with individuals who share similar interests and values. By curating a set of hashtags that align with your brand's core values, you can build a community of engaged followers who may become loyal customers or advocates for your brand.

Not using hashtags

Failing to utilize hashtags is a major missed opportunity. Whether you're a well-established brand or just starting out, incorporating hashtags in your tweets and Instagram posts is crucial for gaining targeted exposure and building your online presence. In the ever-evolving world of social media, hashtags remain a quick and effective way to connect with your audience and expand your reach.

Posts that include hashtags experience double the engagement compared to those without them.



Selecting the perfect hashtags for your posts can seem like a useless task, but with a combination of thorough research and strategic planning, they have the potential to elevate your content to new heights. Ensuring that your chosen hashtags are not only relevant but also align with the essence of your posts is crucial in expanding your reach and boosting engagement levels. In contrast, using irrelevant hashtags or bombarding your content with them can have negative effects, potentially leading to your account being flagged as spam.

By incorporating hashtags that resonate with your brand's message and values, you not only attract an audience that is genuinely interested in your content but also establish a consistent online presence. This strategic alignment not only strengthens your brand messaging but also fosters connections with individuals who share similar interests and values, ultimately building a community of engaged followers who may evolve into loyal customers or advocates for your brand.

In today's ever-evolving social media world, hashtags remain a powerful tool for connecting with your audience and expanding your online presence. Research shows that posts with hashtags experience double the engagement compared to those without them, emphasizing the importance of integrating them into your content strategy. Therefore, it is imperative to approach hashtag selection with careful consideration, ensuring that they complement your posts and contribute to your overall social media goals.

More information on hashtags







FAQs on hashtags

What is a hashtag used for?

  • Utilizing the hashtag before a relevant keyword or phrase in a post categorizes the content and enhances visibility in searches. When you click or tap on a hashtag within a post, it leads you to other posts containing the same hashtag, facilitating easy exploration of related content. For example, when using the hashtag #Bulls, if you click on that hashtag, you should expect to see everything Bull related.

What is an example of a relevant hashtag?

  • If you are a restaurant, using hashtags like #food, #restaurant and #foodie are good hashtags for your brand, as well as following the three hashtag rule. 

What happens if you use too many hashtags?

  • Make sure to keep in mind that Instagram has a maximum limit of 30 hashtags per post, including those in both the caption and comments. If you exceed this limit, your caption or comment won't be able to be posted. If your posts- on any platform- has too many hashtags, it will not have a large engagement since too many hashtags can make the algorithm confused on what your post is about. 

Are hashtags necessary?

  • Hashtags have been a topic of debate, especially following Instagram's recommendation to limit the use to 3-5 hashtags (more details on this later). However, integrating relevant and targeted hashtags (alongside keywords) in posts and Reels continues to be a key tactic for reaching new audiences on Instagram. 

Can it hurt your content to use too many hashtags?

  • Repeating the same hashtags, or using too many hashtags, puts your content at risk. Not only does it risk relevant people to not see your content, but also can flag your content as spam. 
Chloe Newell

Chloe Newell

Chloe Newell is an up-and-coming star in the realms of business and marketing, currently honing her skills as a student at Merrimack College's Girard School of Business. Her academic pursuits in business and marketing are complemented by her real-world experience as a Social Media and Content Creation Intern at Torro Media. Chloe's passion for digital media and innovative marketing strategies shines through in her work, where she skillfully blends academic theories with practical, creative solutions. Her involvement in both academic and professional spheres marks her as a promising and dynamic young professional in the marketing world.