How to Use Hastags in Social Media Marketing? – Hashtags emerged with Twitter in 2007. Two years later, this social network started to automatically transform any word or expression preceded by the # symbol into a link .
Since then, the use of hashtags has become very popular, both among users and among brands, who have seen the potential of these links to promote campaigns, advertise products or generate engagement.
In 2011, Instagram started using hashtags. In 2013, Facebook and Flickr also joined.
The use of hashtags has become more professional to the point where, in 2022, according to a survey conducted by HubSpot with more than a thousand marketing professionals, 82% of them said they use hashtags as part of their Instagram strategy.
According to Twitter’s best practices guide to using hashtags, brands using this strategy on the social network see increases across the marketing funnel , seeing gains of 8% in brand awareness and 3% in purchase intent.
That is, it is inescapable: hashtags are already a fundamental part of the social media marketing strategy.
The important thing is to know how to use them in a smart and interesting way to contribute to your audience’s experience. In this article we will show you how!
How to Use Hastags in Social Media Marketing?
How do hashtags work?
When a person puts the tic-tac-toe symbol (#) before a word, that word automatically becomes a link to social networks. Anyone who clicks on that link, which is called a hashtag, will access all the posts that used the same hashtag.
That is, hashtags group certain subjects or topics, making people interested in those topics able to access, through the same link, several related posts.
Where are hashtags used?
Hashtags are used in social media posts.
They appeared on Twitter, back in 2009, which pioneered this concept. But today they are also present on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube, and all the others.
Even some of these social networks, such as Instagram and LinkedIn, allow the internet user to follow the hashtag, just as they can follow someone else’s posts.
What are hashtags in Social Media Marketing?
Hashtags are used in social media marketing to achieve many practical goals.
- To increase the reach of a post – If you use a hashtag like #digitalmarketing in a post about social media marketing, the chances that a qualified audience that is interested in the subject will reach you increase. This is because people can browse topics of interest through hashtags and even follow hashtags of interest on social networks such as Instagram and LinkedIn.
- To take advantage of trending topics – Hashtags that go viral, reaching thousands or millions of people, become an opportunity for brands that know how to use them. These are called trending topics. If a hashtag is trending on Twitter, it’s because it’s hot right now. If it concerns the theme of a brand, that brand can “surf that wave”, that is, use the hashtag to show the various Internet users who are browsing it that they may also be interested in its content. For example, a news portal dedicated to writing about gender issues was able to take advantage of the hashtag “#MeToo”, which gained strength in 2017, in all its posts, to position itself and reach more people.
- To promote campaigns for your brand – Since 2011, brands have understood the potential of doing campaigns through hashtags, including sponsored ones. It was in that year that Audi made its first commercial using a hashtag in a Super Bowl, one of the most important sporting events in the world. Today this is used by countless brands. For example, as I write this post, I see that HBO Max has promoted the sponsored hashtag #CasaDaChampions on Twitter. It’s a strategy to attract football fans to Champions League matches on the TV channel.
- To increase interaction about your product – On Oscars night, the channels that broadcast the biggest ceremony in the world cinema ask people to comment using specific hashtags, such as #oscars2022 or #OscarNaTNT. This generates buzz around the event, increasing engagement around the subject and often reaching the trending topics of social networks such as Twitter. Shows like Big Brother Brasil also make extensive use of hashtags to increase engagement at broadcast time.
- This strategy is also widely used in political digital marketing, for example, when a candidate is in an electoral debate or participating in a podcast, and the campaign uses hashtags to get more people to follow the subject.
8 tips for using hashtags in social media marketing
1. Don’t abuse hashtags
The first tip is: don’t pollute your post with dozens of hashtags. Think that you, as an Internet user, don’t like to read posts like that, right?
Twitter has a limit of 280 characters per post, which includes the characters used in a hashtag. Pinterest, out of 500. Therefore, on these social networks, the tip is to use a maximum of three hashtags per post. Twitter, by the way, officially recommends using a maximum of two per tweet.
On Instagram, which has more space for “big texts”, there is a usage limit of up to 30 hashtags per post. But the ideal is to use a maximum of five to ten. According to that HubSpot survey I mentioned earlier, 62% of marketers use between 4 and 9 hashtags in an Instagram feed post.
Regardless of the social network, the important thing is that the number of hashtags makes sense, and is proportional to the size of the text, otherwise this could end up harming the user experience, and turning into a shot in the foot.
2. Beware of spelling
It looks very bad to write any text with misspellings, and that includes the hashtags! If you change letters when typing, the risk is great that you will lose the main purpose of using hashtags, which is to make people find you based on that subject. For example, nobody will search for the hashtag #marktingdigital, without the letter “e”. And the post will fall into a vacuum…
For the same reason, the ideal is to avoid using words with an accent or cedilla, if it is possible to replace them with synonyms. Although hashtags without these elements are acceptable on the internet.
3. Use hashtags that have to do with the post
Is there anything more annoying than doing a Google search and, when clicking on the first result, discovering that the content has nothing to do with what you wanted to know?
It’s the same as looking for a hashtag, clicking on a post that uses it and finding out that NOTHING there concerns the content of the hashtag.
For example, you only want to see posts about #motherhood, but you land on a post that talks about dog food.
OK, there are a lot of people who see themselves as dog moms, but beware: your hashtag has to really relate to what you’re delivering, or it could end up hurting your business instead of helping.
4. Don’t use (just) too common hashtags
Is it legal to use #tbt, which everyone uses? Could it be. As I mentioned before, by taking advantage of viral messages that ended up in trending topics, a brand can increase the reach of its posts.
On the other hand, if all the hashtags you use are those that have won the favor of millions, your posts may get lost in the ocean of hashtags that everyone is using, and then the opposite will happen: NOBODY notices your post.
The ideal is to mix more generic hashtags, related to your subject, to try to attract those who are going to do related searches, to other more specific or creative ones.
That’s what Prosperidade Contents does on its Instagram : in addition to placing more generic hashtags within its field, such as #contentmarketing, which appears in over 6 million publications, it uses others that are more specific to the subject of each post, such as #uxwriter (10 thousand posts), in addition to its own hashtag #prosperidadeconteudos , which helps to concentrate in one place everything that the company/brand itself produces.
5. But don’t just use too unusual hashtags either
The opposite of what we said in the previous topic can also be a problem. If you use a hashtag that no one will ever think to look up, it won’t do any good.
For example, instead of writing #euadorocomerchocolatecomgranola, which was used ZERO times on Instagram, it might be better to just put #euadorochocolate, which has already been present in 318 publications.
Of course, you can also create a hashtag from scratch, like a new product campaign, but it needs to generate interest in the user, so that other people also want to use it and, little by little, it can start to be cited and sought after.
Remembering that, through the networks, it is possible to test and see which ones are being most used at the moment. Instagram shows how many publications have already been made by that hashtag as soon as you start typing it.
Twitter already shows which ones are pumping at the moment. These “chains” suggestions can work as a social media marketing strategy, as I pointed out above.
According to HubSpot:
- 66% of marketers use Instagram hashtag suggestions to determine which ones to use. It is
- 58% of marketers look to competitors or accounts that post similar content to find out which hashtags to use.
A practical example: when I made this post, I searched Instagram for the hashtag #arvores. It showed me that there are 640,993 publications with this hashtag, in addition to 187,812 with #árvores (with an accent). That is, if I post something with just that hashtag, it might get lost amid thousands of other posts.
But the number drops to 15,854 in the case of #arvoresnativas and to only 419 publications with the hashtag #arvoresdascidades.
I use the latter as an ecological campaign that encourages people to admire trees, and it also works as a grouper for everything posted on the @arvoresdascidades page . For her purpose, it’s effective.
6. Make your hashtag readable
Ideally, a hashtag should be easy to remember and easy to read and understand. By capitalizing each new word, readability is greatly improved.
For example, it’s much easier to read #MiltonNascimento, who celebrated his 80th birthday in October 2022 and ended up on Twitter’s trending topics, than #miltonnascimento, with two letters N, in lowercase, tangled together.
In turn, avoid hashtags in which all letters are in capital letters. Not only does it sound like you’re yelling, it impairs readability.
7. Be creative (but with caution)
If you come up with a creative, interesting, easy-to-read, crowd-pleasing hashtag, chances are good it will go viral – taking your brand along with it. That’s what happened to the very famous #sextou, which fell in love with the people in 2018.
But the issue of readability here, mentioned in the previous topic, created another problem: it was interpreted as “sex to u” (sex for you) by foreigners and even caused several publications to be blocked by Instagram that year, for fear of pornography.
Calm down, people, it’s just our Brazilianized TGIF!
8. Customize the hashtag for each social network
A hashtag that’s hot on Twitter isn’t necessarily doing well on Instagram – and vice versa.
As mentioned before, use the tools of social networks to see which hashtags are performing better in each place before choosing the ideal ones for your post.