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Hashtag Guide

[Tweet “"Social media is an ingredient, not an entree." – Jay Baer”]

Hashtags are a fantastic way to promote your brand, meet new customers, and engage in conversation around your niche. They entered mainstream conversation on Twitter (though they’ve been around for years), and recently Facebook picked them up.

Now that Facebook has hashtags too, it won’t be long before everyone’s using them.

In this guide, we’ll show you what it takes to join the hashtag party. (Don’t panic, it’s really simple. Scout’s honor. And we’ll do our best to make you smile.)

History of HashtagsInfographic courtesy of Kevin Basset.

What are Hashtags for?

Hashtags help people find stuff and share stuff. People use hashtags all the time to find stuff related to their hobby, or a recent news story, or a cause close to their heart.

Likewise, you can use hashtags to find and share all this kind of stuff, and lots, lots more.

How do you make a hashtag?

You create a hashtag by putting a pound sign (#) in front of a word.

Let’s imagine you’re a sports brand in the running niche. As part of your engagement strategy, you tweet about your own runs.

You could tweet:

Beat my personal best. 10k in under 37 minutes.

Which does the job. But why not add a hashtag?

Beat my personal best. 10k in under 37 minutes. #running

That way, people who are interested in running are more likely to come across your tweet and follow your brand.

From a marketing perspective, hashtags help you engage in conversation with customers and potential customers, and they’re an opportunity to boost your brand’s visibility.

How do hashtags help people discover your brand?

In a few ways.

Lots of people “monitor” hashtags. That means they’ll track everything that’s said on Twitter around a hashtag they’re interested in. So they might track a hashtag for #socialmedia or #business or #troutfishing. Whatever. If you’re including hashtags in your tweets, people who track those hashtags will see your tweets.

Next, people discover hashtags through search. Searching for a hashtag on Twitter is a quick way of finding out what’s being said right now about a particular topic.

Hashtags can also “trend”. This is when hashtags become so popular, they get into the trending side bar on Twitter. Trending is the dream of every viral marketer. When a trend is relevant to your brand, you can jump on that bandwagon, and ride it for all it’s worth. Because trending hashtags get a ton of attention.

What other crazy things do people do with hashtags?

If this is the first time you’ve been introduced to hashtags, your mind is probably whirring with the possibilities. Or maybe you’re drawing a blank. Either way, no worries. We’ve got this covered. Hashtags can be used for:

Creating memes. A meme is a hashtag when suddenly everyone wants to give their opinion or share their story. Great memes go viral. Examples include #ARelationshipIsOverWhen, #UnlikelySequels #iGrewUpWatching and #CrapNamesForPubs.

Being Funny. People with a weird sense of humor use hashtags all the time. And sometimes they’re pretty funny.

Just got fired. #BadDayAtTheOffice

Find People to Follow. If you’re a writer and you feel a bit lonely hammering away at your keys without a single literary friend, you can search the hashtag #amwriting to find other writers. Writers use it all the time when they’re not writing, so it’s a fun way of finding other procrastinators. If you’re not a writer, you can find another appropriate hashtag. More on that in a minute.

Eavesdrop. Yep, seeing what random people around the world have to say on an issue can be lots of fun.

Make a name for themselves. Successful hashtag creators are the wonder workers of the social media world. To most of us, their craft is shrouded in mystery, but read on to discover their secrets. Then you can (maybe) make a name for your brand with hashtags. No promises. We’ll show you how, but it’s up to you to do the work.

Find interesting stuff. Like what’s going on in your city. Or what artists are drawing over in Hong Kong. Or how to wrestle a bear. Do a random hashtag search, and you never know what you’ll pick up. (Always practice good hygiene)

Guide to Twitter Hashtags

Twitter is the spiritual and virtual home of hashtags. Without Twitter, hashtags would still belong to the realm of geeks and the secret societies called IRCs who probably run the Internets.

So, the advice you learn on Tweeting hashtags can be applied anywhere. That includes on Twitter’s arch enemy, Facebook.

Let’s start with the basics.

Hashtag Basics

Pay attention! If you ignore the rest of this article, and learn this, you’ll still pass the quiz at the end.

  • Creating a hashtag is super, super simple. You just put a pound sign in from of a word. Or group of words. #LikeThis. Got it? Anyone can do it, at any time, with any word. There are no rules. Except, be nice.
  • Searching for hashtags is equally simple. Just type the hashtag you’re looking for into the Twitter search bar. If you’re looking for the #monkey hashtag, enter #monkey into the search bar.
  • Spamming is not cool. Let’s say everyone’s tweeting about the #SuperBowl, which happens from time to time, so you think, “Aha! I can jump on this bandwagon!” It’s maybe a sensible thought. But if you sell cars, and use the #SuperBowl hashtag to send out spam about your cars, that’s not cool. Stay on topic.
  • Mix it up. Don’t always use the same hashtags. The more varied you make it, the more likely you are to be discovered by a wide range of people.
  • The 1 or 2 rule. One hashtag in a tweet is plenty. Two is an abundance of sufficiency. Three hashtags is not only a crowd. It’s an abomination, and will make your followers #RunAway.
  • Get the Hump. I mean, use CamelCase. If you’re writing a #HashTagWithMoreThanOneWord, start each word with a capital letter. #thatwayitmightpossiblybelegible.
  • You can click hashtags. If you see a hashtag you like in someone else’s tweet, click it. Then Twitter will automagically search for the best tweets which include that hashtag.

Now you know how to create hashtags and how to use them. But what if you want to find hashtags so you can intrude on conversations that are already happening?

Let’s look at that next.

Finding Twitter Hashtags (And Getting Yours Found) tracks hashtag trends in real time. It also has a searchable archive of hashtags, with definitions and a 24 hour trend graph.

To have track any hashtags you create, follow @hashtags on Twitter.

Tips on Going Viral

Everyone wants their hashtag to go viral. It’s just a thing we all dream of, like owning a ferrari or having a pool in our backyard.

(Okay, not everyone dreams of those. But if you do dream of making it big with hashtags, this stuff’s for you).

Here’s what you gotta do:

  • Back it up with content. Trying to become a top ten hashtag hit with a hashtag alone is like going for a round of golf with only a putter. You’re on a losing streak before you even got started. If you want a hashtag to go viral it’s got to be a campaign. That means linking your genius hashtag with stunning content on your blog, Facebook page and YouTube account. The bigger buzz you create around your hashtag, the more likely you’ll make it big.
  • Ask for Help. Sometimes you can’t make it on your own. Except, when it comes to creating a viral campaign, sometimes is never. Pull out the big guns. Ping everyone in your network to let everyone know what you’re doing. Ask them to pay back every favor you’ve ever handed out. The more people you can get on board to start with, the better your chance of success.
  • Ask for Help, Part II. You thought you were done with eating humble pie? Nope. Virality is a hungry beast, and you’re the one who’s volunteered to feed it. When you tweet out your hashtag (which you should do lots), ask for retweets. When you ask for retweets, you’re four times more likely to get retweets. That’s scientifically proven by Mr. Dan Zarella himself.
  • Be funny. Or at least have a good time. The more feel-good you inject into the virus (sorry, viral campaign), the easier it will be to spread your deadly disease. Funny is money.
  • Go to town. You’ve made the hashtag, so for Zuke’s sake, use it! Don’t be shy. Get it out there. And if at first you don’t succeed, try again. And again. And again.

How to Track Hashtags

You can track hashtags with, if you sign up for a free account. However, we think that’s a bit of a hassle day to day.

Our everyday tool of choice for tracking hashtags is TweetDeck. You can create your own column for each hashtag you want to track, and follow the results in real time.

If you’re a Hootsuite fan, it does the same thing.

Twitter Hashtags

Guide to Facebook Hashtags

Recently, Facebook officially launched support for hashtags.

This is serious business, so let’s cut the smiles, get your professional face on, and find out what this is all about.

Click Those Hashtags! Hashtag Search and Hashtag Pages

As on Twitter, Facebook hashtags appear as clickable links. Clicking the hashtag pulls up a search, integrating nicely with Facebook’s new power search bar.

Searching for a hashtag brings up a timeline of public updates that include the hashtag. Additionally, if you update your status while on the hashtag timeline, your status includes the hashtag by default.

You can also go to a hashtag page using the URL For example, the URL for the #socialmedia hashtag page is

Hashtag pages are created automatically. When you invent a new hashtag, Facebook creates a page for that hashtag.

Aside from manual searches, or visiting the hashtag page, at the moment there’s no way to track a Facebook hashtag. This is likely to change as Facebook rolls out more features around hashtags.

Do Hashtags Boost Your Edgerank?

Every time you post to Facebook, Facebook gives your post an Edgerank. The higher the Edgerank, the more of your fans will see the post.

Typically, the more a post is liked or shared, the higher its Edgerank.

At the moment, and as far as we know, hashtags don’t influence the Edgerank of your posts. However, Edgerank does determine whether and where your posts show up on the hashtag page.

Hashtags Help Your Reach Out to New Fans

As on Twitter, the most important role Facebook hashtags play is helping to boost the visibility of your brand. If you include hashtags in your posts, you’re more likely to be discovered by people who’ve never before come across your brand.

What Facebook Hashtags Should I Use?

Choosing the right hashtags, like much of social media marketing, is more of an art than a science. If there was a simple answer, everyone would be doing it.

What’s important is creating a unique strategy for your brand. The hashtags you use will reflect your niche, your brand values, and the audience you want to reach out to.

Use a mix of popular hashtags with a broad appeal, and niche hashtags, which helps you be discovered by people who’s interests and values match those of your brand.

Always be on the look out for new and exciting hashtags. If they’re relevant to your brand, jump aboard those bandwagons!

Hashtags and Privacy

Just because a Facebook post includes a hashtag, that doesn’t make it public, and it doesn’t mean it will automatically show up in search.

If you’re using hashtags from your personal Facebook account, make sure your privacy settings are set to public. If you only share hashtagged updates with your friends, then what you share won’t become part of the bigger conversation around the hashtag.

Crossing Platforms With Hashtags

Is Facebook raining on Twitter’s parade by adopting hashtags? Well, yes, yes it is. We’ve got a sneaking suspicion Facebook wants to steal Twitter’s thunder. Hashtags were one of Twitter’s key USP’s, and with that gone, we may see even more migration of content and updates from Twitter to Facebook.

As a brand, the battle of the social networks needn’t concern you too much. You only need to keep an eye on the trends, and if Twitter starts to fall behind, then you can adjust your social media strategy.

In fact, you can use hashtags going cross-platform to your advantage. Now, if you’re planning a hashtag campaign, you can use it on Twitter and Facebook, giving you double the impact.

Hashtags and Google Search

(Other search providers are available)

Search for a hashtag on Google right now, and Twitter is usually the top result. As Facebook finds its feet in the world of hashtags, this could change.

Where Can I Find Hashtags?

Want to get a head start by putting some hashtags in your pocket, ready for later? Never fear! We thought you might want to do that, and we’ve put together a collection just for you.

We’ve got some wildcards in there, because keeping things random is always fun.

Now, get onto Twitter and Facebook and go use a hashtag! What are you waiting for? If you’re not sure which one to use, we recommend #SocialCaffeine as a fine starting point.

Your Turn!

Which hashtags have made the biggest difference for your brand?

[Tweet “"Tactics without a strategy is worse than doing nothing at all." – Li Evans”]

Hashtag Campaign

You want to shine a spotlight on your brand or good cause?

Then a hashtag campaign is the way go.

“What’s a hashtag campaign?” I hear you cry.

Here’s the drill. You create a hashtag, and get as many people as possible talking about it. Hit the right spot, and your hashtag will go viral. It could even hit Twitter trends.

Having your own hashtag totally rocks. That’s because a hashtag:

  • Creates a community. Everyone who shares your hashtag will feel part of something.
  • Makes word of mouth sticky. Every share of your hashtag is linked to all other shares. They all stick together. Anyone who sees the hashtag can click it to see all the hashtag activity (With general shares of a particular word – such as the name of your campaign – there’s no stickiness).
  • Acts as social proof. When people see your hashtag they’ll think “if everyone’s talking about this, how did I miss it?” They’ll be curious to find out more and jump on your hashtag wagon.

But how can you, lowly business person, create a successful hashtag campaign?

Until recently, it was close to impossible to engineer a hashtag to go viral. Unless you were Lady Gaga, or Justin Bieber, with millions of followers, it just wasn’t happening.

Hashtags went viral organically. Or they didn’t. You could put together an amazing campaign. But then you had to cross your fingers, and hope to hit the jackpot.

That’s yesterday’s news.

Now, anyone, with a bit of creativity, can engineer a hashtag to go viral, thanks to some powerful tools for leveraging hashtags.

Let’s look at three of the best. All these allow you to start a rain shower with just a few droplets of water. Make it pour, baby.

1. Triberr

Triberr is all about building up a loyal tribe of followers who share your blog posts on social media.

What’s that got to do with hashtags?

When you add blog posts to your Triberr account, you can add hashtags to the blog post title.

The more you use Triberr to share other people’s stuff with your followers, the more your own blog posts (including your hashtag) will be shared by others.

Triberr alone is unlikely to get you to a million views of your hashtag, but it sets a great foundation. Once you’ve got your hashtag on Triberr, your loyal followers will be sharing, which gets you off to a great start.

2. GaggleAMP

GaggleAMP is a simple way of creating an integrated social media strategy across your business.

With GaggleAMP, you recruit employees, resellers and business partners to share your social media messages with their followers.

As with Triberr, these are your loyal crowd, so they’ll want to share. And their audiences are the exact people you want to get involved in your campaign.

Unless you’re a huge company with thousands of employees and partners, you won’t create an instant boom with GaggleAMP. But you will start amping up the buzz around your hashtag campaign.

With GaggleAMP and Triberr all set, you’re ready to give your hashtag campaign the boom it needs to go viral.

3. Thunderclap

Thunderclap is where your campaign goes from buzz to BOOM!

It works in the same way as crowdfunding. Except your backers don’t pledge money to support your campaign. They back your with a tweet.

You set a deadline for your campaign, and a minimum backer goal.

It’s easier than you think to reach out to a million people on Thunderclap. With a goal of 500 backers, if your backers have an average of 2,000 Twitter followers each, you’ll have a reach of one million.

The key to success of Thunderclap? Make your campaign inspiring. You’re asking for support, so make sure you’re touching a cause that people are passionate about.

Talking of getting a million tweets for your hashtag, how about helping to raise $1 million for underprivileged children? This is exactly what The Captain Derek Jeter is doing over at Check out his campaign, and pledge for some amazing prizes.

You can help Derek Jeter raise $1 million to support underprivileged young people and get one million eyeballs on his hashtag by supporting his Thunderclap campaign here.

We’ve all seen those people on social media who overuse hashtags. You may have even met someone who speaks hashtags in a face-to-face conversation. And you’ve probably grumbled about hashtag use at some point in time because, let’s face it, hashtagging overuse can be annoying.

If you’re one of those hashtag over-users, not to worry. There’s an intervention waiting in your near future.

Annoying Hashtags

Hashtags are meant to be used to add categories for your social media posts, adding your posts with the posts of others who have used the same hashtag, so you can all get together and see what everyone’s talking about at the same time. For instance, say you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, and you want to live Tweet your reactions as you watch the latest airing and gripe about any idiosyncrasies that don’t coincide with the original plot in the books. You might add the hashtag: #GameOfThrones. Then, you can perform a search on your social media platform of choice and see what everyone else is saying.

You can use hashtags to find others with similar interests, join in a conversation, or just snoop around on a subject (or person). Hashtags take all the social media posts with the same hashtags and throws them into the same conversational bin so you can wallow in the hashtag topic of your choice without the irritation of extraneous conversations. It’s great if you tend to obsess over something and want to garner as much info as you can in a short period of time.


Want to know what’s happening with a particular news story right now? There’s a hashtag for that.

Need to know who’s winning a sporting event? There’s a hashtag for that.

Looking to connect with people who have a similar interest as you? There’s a hashtag for that.

Want to know what a your favorite celebrity is up to this week? There’s a hashtag for that.

Wondering how prevalent cheating on your spouse is? There’s a hashtag for that, too.





Hashtagging is meant to categorize your social media posts, to index them, so they can be searched more efficiently. Consider them the phone book and card catalog of the Internet’s social media sites (for those of you who are old enough to have used a phone book and/or card catalog). Hashtags are great for those people who like to sort their M&Ms by color and prefer to work on a perfectly clean desk. They’re also great for those people who mix M&Ms and Skittles in the same bite and work in an utter landfill of chaos. Hashtags don’t judge.

Hashtagging done poorly can irritate those who take the time to read your social media feeds. Here are a few do’s an don’ts:

  • DO use hashtags if your social media post contains something of interest to others, such as a popular TV show, pictures of cats, or industry-specific news.
  • DON’T use never-ending hashtags, like this one: #addinganentiresentencetoahashtagisnotonlyannoyingbutitssuperconfusingtooandnoonewillreadthisallthewaytotheendanyways.
  • DON’T create your own random hashtags that will never apply to anyone else: #mycatisblueandtheskyisred.
  • DO write creative hashtags that others will love.
  • DO put some thought into your hashtags.
  • DO limit your hashtags to no more than five per post
  • DON’T post personal information you don’t want the Internet the know and include hashtags.
  • DON’T use hashtags in face-to-face conversation unless you’re with really good friends who find you funny, love you, and overlook your quirks.
  • DO check your hashtags for typos.
  • DO check your posts for potentially offensive info before hashtagging. Those hashtags can be indexed years later, even if you delete the post. Manage your reputation and your company’s reputation responsibly online.
  • DON’T put hashtags where they don’t belong, like on billboards and written communication, unless you’re announcing a new hashtag as part of a promotional campaign
  • DO keep a sense of humor when it comes to hashtagging- someone is always going to annoy you by breaking hashtag rules.

You can use hashtags to help find new social media connections in your industry or to keep abreast of the latest on a topic of interest. Hashtags can help you keep the pulse of a hot topic and find out what’s trending at any given moment online. But clogging up your social media posts with unruly hashtags is the equivalent of spamming those you’re connected with online. It’s just not polite.


When in doubt, don’t hashtag, especially if you’re posting for a client or company, or if you care about your online reputation.

Hashtags and social media posts have cost countless people their jobs and probably resulted in missed opportunities for numerous others. When people want to check out a new company, employee, or even someone they just met, they turn to the Internet. And those hashtags can come back and bite you. And search engines love to index hashtags and social media posts. Even if you think your posts are “private” or shared with just a few close people, adding a hashtag can make that post accessible to the public.

And if you want to make it easter for hashtag newbies to “get your tags” try “CapitalizingEveryWord. It helps clarify what your hashtag is saying.

Creative Ways to Use Hashtags

Hashtags are great for live social media coverage of an event. If you’re planning a launch, premier, or other crucial event, consider brainstorming potential hashtags far in advance of the event. Your creative team can them decide which hashtags to use, and these can be released to the public a few days before the event. This can help control the flow of hashtagging so social media posts are funneled into the same indices and give the public a place to start when searching for related posts about your event.

Try to use descriptive words when coming up with new hashtags to make them easier for people to remember. Promotional hashtags are essentially mini-taglines that need to say a lot in a few words. Using rhyming words or words with a similar cadence can help your hashtag catch on.

Don’t forget to register your tag so people know what the heck you’re talking about it they see it trending on social media. You can define your tag here.

How are you using hashtags? What’s worked for you?