Down with the hashtag

a guide to using hashtags
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
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Stick with me on this hashtags issue, we’ll get there together.

I tend to see a lot of ‘social media cheat sheet’ infographics being shared. You know the ones – they tell you how often you should post on your social media channels, how many characters you should use and – more annoyingly – how many hashtags you should be using.

Don’t get me wrong – these cheat sheets can be quite handy if you’re looking for a quick blast of information or if you’re a novice to digital marketing – but of the last few that I’ve seen they recommend using 1-3 on Twitter.

1-3. On #Every. #Single. #Tweet.

Not only do they recommend using 1-3 per tweet, but they also offer the advice of one hashtag for every Facebook post. Just, well, no.

Here’s a quick guide to when – and only if necessary – you should be using hashtags.

Hashtags on Facebook

NEVER! Nobody searches with them and as they are clickable they work against you,  taking users away from your content.

It has been proven – in this fantastic study by Edgerankers – that hashtags actually do nothing to increase exposure on Facebook.

Hashtags on Twitter

This is where the use of hashtags needs to seriously be changed.  Think about how your audience finds content – not how you want your content to be found.

Twitter’s search engine is so robust now you don’t need to #hashtag #all #of #your #tweet. At an event with a relevant hashtag – yes. Participating in a topic hashtag – yes. Hosting a discussion eg #SocialMediaQuestions, yes.

If you’re using things like #News or #Free– KILL IT WITH FIRE. NO.

Hashtags on Twitter need to be seen as content curation – people used to often # a location eg. #London – but now there’s no need! Do a search for Glasgow, and you get all that content. However, if you’re taking part in a discussion around Great British Bake Off? You go use that #GBBO hashtag to your heart’s content.

Think about your current followers and how you position yourself to them. Even 1-3 hashtags can look desperate. Make your tweet engaging enough and you won’t need a hashtag.

Hashtags on Instagram

Always and often. Instagram allows for up to 30 to be used. Study what works for you and your niche – it takes time, but hashtag research will allow you to build a community around your content. DON’T for the love of everyone using Instagram just start using ones that are irrelevant to your content. Put the time in, do the work and you’ll begin to see the rewards.


Yes – but not as you think. Not only are they great for finding content, but they also help organise your Tumblr blog. Add pages with relevant content from tagging. Don’t see them as regular hashtags, see them as organising your content.

How do you use hashtags? Do you see any benefit in hashtagging Facebook content? Let me know in the comments!