The Proper Care and Feeding of Hashtags


You can’t go anywhere on the internet (or within 100 yards of a millennial) without tripping over hashtags. The dang things are everywhere, and much like kale or quinoa seem to be invading our everyday lives whether we want it or not. But fear not! We have some tips to alleviate the hashtag insanity.

Hashtags, What Are They Good For?

Hashtags started innocently enough; they were introduced on Twitter as a way to tag and catalog tweets. Much in the way you can add a tag to a blog post to mark it in a certain category, you could do so with tweets. For example:

FakeTwitterUserBob: Oh good heavens I utterly and completely love #dogs.

Theoretically, anyone who also utterly and completely loves dogs could find Bob’s tweet by searching the #dogs hashtag. But since then, they’ve evolved into a completely new animal. (The hashtags, not dogs—we hope). Now we see them used as a way to abbreviate thought, almost like shorthand or keywords.

FakeTwitterUserBob: #icanteven with this #dog right now. #atemyhomework #sad

I Can Haz Hashtag?

Much like the “womp womp” wobble base in Dubstep, hashtags can be used effectively, but can also be abused with overuse. All hashtags and no substance make Jack a very dull boy to his followers (isn’t that how the saying goes?).

Here are some definite dos and don’ts of hashtagging:

DO be conscious of the number of hashtags you use. Try to keep it to a max of 3 per tweet. Instagram supports over 20 per post, but it’s sort of up for debate on the best practices here. Personally, we feel anything more than 5 starts to look spammy and tacky.

DON’T use hashtags on platforms that don’t support them. Keep your hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Facebook has limited support for hashtags due to individual users’ privacy settings. Their search function is also getting increasingly effective without the need to catalog posts that way. Pinterest seems to actually ding users who put hashtags in their post in their new algorithm, so using them will decrease your chance to grow your audience.

DO see if others are using the same tags. If you want your instagram pictures found by using the tag #hangry, but aren’t sure if that’s a good tag, simply do a search for other images using the same hashtag. If there’s a ton of them, that’s probably a good tag to use!

DON’T use a hashtag that doesn’t apply simply because it has a bunch of interest/gains followers. In other words, if your picture isn’t of a sunset, please don’t use #sunset.

DO use title case in hashtags. If your hashtag consists of multiple words, capitalizing the first letter of each word makes the tag easier to read. (ex: #BeatsDownLow vs #beatsdownlow)

If you use these little hints, you’re sure to be hashtagging #LikeABoss in no time.