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A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Hashtags


You have heard the term “hashtag” used in reference to Twitter or Instagram. You may have even heard it used as slang in spoken language, usually said ironically and preceding a cliché, such as “hashtag YOLO” or “hashtag ladies who lunch.” This slang use emphasizes the original intent of the hashtag, which is to link associated content — an easy search tool for social media. For example, if you want to post on social networks about a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game, use #TampaBayRays or #RaysUp and it will appear in searches along with thousands of other Tampa Bay Rays posts.

If we focus on the hashtag as a marketing tool rather than an ironic reference to cultural vapidity or slang, we begin to see its usefulness. It is one of the best ways to place your content in front of the appropriate eyes on social networks, and the more specific you can be, the better chance you have of reaching your target audience. Consider the following simple rules:

  • Hashtags are not case sensitive – so even though phrases should have no space, capitalizing the first letter of words in a phrase allows you to distinguish between the words – #FirstLady
  • Try to incorporate the hashtag into the body of your post – say “#ProfessionalServicesMarketing” rather than “Professional services marketing #ProfessionalServicesMarketing”
  • Think about what your client/customer/user wants to read. What are they searching for? These are your keywords and they will be your hashtags.
  • Once you come up with a list of hashtag phrases, use the social networks to search the phrases and keywords to see what other content is trending – is it relevant to your content? If the content you see is not related to yours, try to come up with a keyword that will put your content in the right place.
  • Look at your competitors’ posts – what hashtags are they using and what content are they posting? You can learn a lot by regularly visiting their social media accounts. Avoid “me too” marketing, but use competitive insights from this research to generate new ideas.
  • Choose your words wisely – you only have 140 characters to get your point across on Twitter and you don’t want Instagram, Facebook or G+ posts to be too lengthy.
  • Avoid hashtag overload. #toomuch #unreadable #annoying #whodoesthis #hashtagsforhashtags #marketing #advertising #pr #socialmedia

Twitter can be an important part of a social media strategy. It is ranked as the second most popular social media platform, next to Facebook, so it is brimming with potential customers. Instagram is among the fastest growing platform and companies are finding success with advertising/promoted posts. The challenge is to reach your prospective clients by using good hashtags and consistent posting.

Pinstripe Marketing has a social media team brimming with ideas for your campaign. We can help generate ideas or take the load off your hands so you can work on your business.

For more information on social media strategy, read some of Pinstripe Marketing’s other social media articles.