Influencer MarketingWhat Are Hashtags Actually For?

What Are Hashtags Actually For?


In late 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending on Twitter. Frozen pizza slinger DiGiorno, recognized for being snarky and intelligent on social media, wished to affix the enjoyable:

DiGiorno Hashtag Social Media Marketing Fail

There was only one downside: #WhyIStayed began in response to a video of home abuse. Girls used the hashtag to inform their very own story of abuse and discuss concerning the societal pressures that led them to stick with their abusers.

At greatest, DiGiorno seemed clueless. At worst, it seemed like they had been making gentle of a really critical difficulty. All they wished was a little bit model visibility…and so they bought it, however not in the way in which they had been hoping.

Hashtags are an integral a part of Twitter and Instagram (and Fb, to a a lot lesser extent). As such, they need to be a part of our social media advertising and marketing on every platform. However as DiGiorno and lots of different manufacturers have proven, it’s not sufficient to take a look at the trending tags and hop on board. Entrepreneurs want to know what hashtags are for and the way our viewers is utilizing them earlier than we bounce in.

Listed below are the #fundamentals you could keep away from invisibility or embarrassment with hashtags.

#Historical past

Hashtags began as a function on IRC (Web Relay Chat) channels again in 1988, when the web nonetheless ran on steam turbine energy. The “#” in entrance of channel meant that it was out there for customers throughout the web, not simply on a neighborhood space community.

Twenty years later, IRC followers who had been early Twitter adopters proposed utilizing the image to assist classify widespread subjects or teams. Twitter itself didn’t formally acknowledge hashtags for 2 extra years. In 2009, the positioning began robotically hyperlinking hashtags to look outcomes.

Fb added hashtags in 2013, however they don’t see as a lot use on the platform. In contrast, Fb-owned Instagram virtually runs on hashtags. It’s commonplace to see a put up with a four-word captioned adopted by a paragraph of tags: #NoFilter #WokeUpLikeThis #BeachLife #SanDiego #ChihuahuaLove. Clicking any of the tags results in a customized feed of photographs with the identical tag, very like Twitter’s search performance works.


Hashtags started as a option to categorize data for future searchers, very like the class or subject tags on a weblog. In that case, utilizing the appropriate hashtags is extra like search engine optimization than anything; it’s all about ensuring your message comes up for the appropriate question.

However hashtags aren’t actually for search anymore. Hardly anybody goes to the search field on Twitter or Instagram and placing in a key phrase to drag up a particular hashtag.

Hashtags are usually not actually for entrepreneurs to spice up their model or their content material, both. We will strategically use hashtags for that objective, however we should do not forget that’s an off-label use. It’s necessary to tread evenly on utilizing hashtags promotionally — as DiGiorno and lots of others can attest.

If it’s not about search or self-promotion, how ought to entrepreneurs take into consideration hashtags? Or, higher query, how does your viewers take into consideration hashtags?

Odds are, although, your viewers doesn’t actively take into consideration why they use or work together with a particular tag. There’s an innate understanding that makes some tags look “proper” or “pure,” whereas others really feel “pressured” or “industrial.”

The easiest way I can consider to precise that innate understanding is:


Social media feeds transfer quick. Hashtags are a method for customers to dam out area to have a dialog. “We’re telling any such story in right here.” “We’re sharing any such image in right here.” Utilizing a particular present hashtag ought to include the information that you just’re getting into another person’s dialog area.

The social media supervisor at DiGiorno seemingly wouldn’t go as much as a bunch of individuals speaking a couple of unhappy and critical subject in hushed tones and shout, “PIZZA!” However that’s precisely what they did on Twitter.

So earlier than you bounce right into a dialog, be sure that:

  • You perceive what’s being mentioned
  • Your model has (and will have) a place on the subject
  • You will have one thing related to contribute

Once you’re making your personal hashtags, remember the fact that you’re beginning a dialog. You may’t management who contributes to that dialog and what they could add to it.

For instance, in 2012 McDonald’s used the hashtag #McDStories in a tweet, seemingly inviting customers to share their very own particular reminiscences of the chain. As an alternative, they bought tales about meals poisoning, diabetes, coronary heart assaults, and animal cruelty.

It seems McDonald’s had meant to make use of the tag to advertise tales from staff and others affiliated with the model. However they by accident began a a lot wider dialog. With a little bit forethought, the mess may have been averted.

So, when creating your personal hashtag, bear in mind:

  • Who’re you speaking to?
  • What are you making an attempt to say?
  • How else may your hashtag be interpreted?
  • What different conversations may it begin?


Good hashtaggery begins with understanding that hashtags are a dialog. From there, the optimum ways for utilizing hashtags differ from platform to platform. The great of us at Buffer have an in-depth information that touches on every of the main social media websites.

Listed below are some easy ideas that I like to recommend to complement Buffer’s recommendation:

  • Use hashtags sparingly on Twitter; not more than 2 per put up, ideally only one
  • Don’t use tags on paid tweets. They’re confirmed to dilute your CTA
  • Go nuts on Instagram; 11 hashtags is the optimum quantity
  • Don’t trouble tagging on Fb. Analysis reveals your put up will do higher with out them
  • Use CamelCase to maintain longer tags legible (Keep in mind the “susanalbumparty” debacle?)


Hashtags began as a tagging instrument for search. Right this moment, they’re used to create an area for conversations, group individuals with related pursuits, and fill Instagram feeds with puppies. To be most profitable together with your hashtags, respect conversations that exist already, and be cautious concerning the conversations you begin.

Have to #LevelUp your social media advertising and marketing? TopRank Advertising might help.


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