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Hashtag Basics

Hashtag Basics

#This #is #Not #How #To #Use #Hashtags


“The Symbol Formerly Known as Pound” was introduced on Twitter in 2007 as a way to connect information around a specific topic. By 2009 Twitter integrated hashtags into their search results and by 2010 they were incorporated into Twitter’s trending topics. Eventually, the use of hashtags spread to Facebook and other social media platforms.

Sadly, in the years since their introduction, the true purpose of hashtags remains an enigma to many. #mydogjustatemypizza and #bestjeggingsever are used by everyday people for unknown reasons. These same people have likely never clicked on a hashtag before or were confused by the results when they did.

Here is the real power of using hashtags: Hashtags are a fabulous way to gather together similar content from people all across the world. People use them to connect on topics they care about, charities use them to promote their cause, and businesses use them in marketing campaigns. Here are a few examples:


  • Want to know more about your favorite TV show? Chances are it has a hashtag. Use it to connect with other fans and even the show itself. People share gossip, fan fiction, vent about the death of their favorite character, hypothesize about the next plot twist, and sometimes spoil the ending (always watch for spoilers!).
    #GameOfThrones   #WalkingDead   #StrangerThings   #BigLittleLies

Current Events

  • Following along with (or joining in) the conversation on a national event, election or breaking news is even easier with hashtags. Find the latest news from people on the scene, see snarky election day comments from voters and pundits, or find images and videos that bring the news to life.
    #SuperBowlLII   #Election2020   #Grammys


  • Social justice and advocacy groups have used hashtags to raise awareness and funds for a variety of causes. A few years ago, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was trending. Because of this, more than $115 million was raised for the ALS Association, which in turn has led to multiple breakthroughs and two new drugs heading to clinical trials (learn more).
    #MeToo   #IceBucketChallenge   #BlackLivesMatter


  • If you’re marketing or promoting a business or event, specialized hashtags will allow people to be part of the conversation and be brand ambassadors. Bicyclists who participated in the Tour de Tonka used the hashtag #tourdetonka on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share photos from the ride and tell others about their experience. Event planners monitored the hashtag and shared or retweeted posts from people who used it.
    • Note: this can backfire completely if your brand or topic is controversial in any way. Because anyone can use a hashtag, people can jump on board your campaign and share all of their negative experiences. One popular example is the Washington Redskins, who launched the hashtag #RedskinsPride to get fans to share their team spirit. Instead, it was dominated by activists and Native Americans who petitioned the team to change their name.

Hashtag Tips

  • Search your hashtags on social media before using them. Find out if they are already in use and by whom. The more unique you can make a hashtag, the more effective it will be.
  • If your hashtag contains multiple words, be sure that they can be easily understood when strung together and that they don’t spell anything inappropriate. For example, if you wanted to use a hashtag for a “Paint Your Dog” art class using the words Woof Art (#woofart), you should probably rethink that.
  • When using acronyms, be sure they don’t have other meanings. Burger King failed with #WTFF (What the French Fry) and there are many other examples from major companies that are not fit to reproduce here. Trust us. Want to know if an acronym is appropriate? Ask a teenager, check the Urban Dictionary or Google a text abbreviation cheat sheet.
  • Always have others review a new hashtag before you use it. Always.

Published on: February 1, 2018