Twitter, Facebook, Instagram AND Google+

Hashtags are a crucial part of social media marketing.

But you have to use them the right way!

Luckily, QuickSprout have put together a comprehensive infographic breaking down the do's & don'ts of hashtags on 4 social networks:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Google+

So let's dive in!

What is it

First off, what exactly is a hashtag?

Here's how Wikipedia describes it

A hashtag is a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the hash character (or number sign), #, to form a label. It is a type of metadata tag. Words or phrases in messages on microblogging and social networking services such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, or Twitter may be tagged by entering # before them, either as they appear in a sentence, e.g., "New artists announced for #SXSW2014 Music Festival" or appended to it. A hashtag allows grouping of similarly tagged messages, and also allows an electronic search to return all messages that contain it.

When I was a kid the hashtag symbol was called the "number symbol" or "pound sign" on my phone.

And technically, it's still there on your phone! :)


Today on social media we call them hashtags 

They basically help people search for & find content based on a keyword or phrase.

How to Use Hashtags on Twitter

Twitter is what started the hashtag craze.

In fact, Chris Messina personally invented them with this tweet:

how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?

— Chris Messina® (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007


Go to Twitter and you'll see hashtags on most tweets -- especially from businesses.

And for good reason. Tweets with a hashtag get double the engagement vs. tweets without them.

Which is reason enough to give them a try!... But remember to limit them to 2 per tweet.

Some other key stats about hashtags on Twitter:

  • Using more than 2 hashtags drops engagement by 17%
  • Tweets with 1-2 hashtags have 21% more engagement
  • Users are 55% more likely to retweet when there is at least 1 hashtag included
  • 25% of tweets without hashtags do get retweeted
  • But 40% of tweets with hashtags get retweeted

Math rules!

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

Instagram is a completely different animal than Twitter when it comes to hashtags.

On Instagram, hashtags are king! -- and savvy Instagram users use them A LOT.

In fact, posts with 11+ hashtags get the highest engagement on Instagram, according to Quicksprout.

11 hashtags!!!

instagram hashtags

Let's break down this colorful chart:

  • 0 Hashtags -- 18% interaction per 1k followers
  • 1 Hashtag -- 29% interaction per 1k followers
  • 2 Hashtags -- 41% interaction per 1k followers
  • 3 Hashtags -- 39% interaction per 1k followers
  • 4 Hashtags -- 31% interaction per 1k followers
  • 5 Hashtags -- 43% interaction per 1k followers
  • 6 Hashtags -- 33% interaction per 1k followers
  • 7 Hashtags -- 30% interaction per 1k followers
  • 8 Hashtags -- 39.5% interaction per 1k followers
  • 9 Hashtags -- 49.5% interaction per 1k followers
  • 10 Hashtags -- 22% interaction per 1k followers
  • 11 Hashtags -- 79.5% interaction per 1k followers

The jump in interaction from 10-11 hashtags is tough to explain -- but very interesting.

Bottom line: people love to follow hashtags on Instagram -- so use them!

How to Use Hashtags on Facebook

facebook hashtag

Using hashtags on Facebook is fairly new -- and honestly they're not as effective as on Twitter or Instagram.

Here's a breakdown:

  • 1-2 Hashtags -- 593 average interactions per post
  • 3-5 Hashtags -- 416 average interactions per post
  • 6-10 Hashtags -- 307 average interactions per post
  • 10+ Hashtags -- 188 average interactions per post

In my opinion, hashtags on Facebook tend to look forced & unnatural.

Plus, users aren't searching hashtags on Facebook -- so they're more of a novelty item for most people #hahahalookatmeusingthiscrazylonghashtagbrb

My advice is to be careful how you use hashtags on Facebook -- and follow the hashtag advice of these 13 Facebook Experts.

How to Use Hashtags on Google+

Yes people still use Google+ !

It's not totally dead... yet.

The interesting thing about Google+ is they add hashtags for you -- even when you don't add any.

google plus hashtags

You can edit the hashtags & add your own, but Google+ obviously thinks they're pretty important.

In fact, G+ hashtags now can be found doing a simple Google search!

You can also add hashtags in the comments of posts -- and those can be discovered via search as well.


Hashtags are here to stay! So use them.

They're a great way to increase your overall social media traffic.

No, I can't guarantee they'll always make all your posts get more engagement -- but if you follow this cheat sheet, you'll be much better off than before!

ultimate guide to social media hashtags infographic



Do be specific when using hashtags

Try and hone in on a passionate community that shares an interest in one specific theme. The more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be—and a targeted audience generally means better engagement. If you don’t have your own business hashtag, find one or two existing ones that really fit the photo. To use an example from Instagram’s owntips for using hashtags, if you’re after Volkswagen lovers the hashtag #vwvan will earn you a lot more of your desired followers than #van will. Twitter has created a helpful infographic to help you choose the right hashtag.

Do cater hashtags to the social network you’re using

While hashtags on all social networks have the same fundamental purpose of content tagging and discovery, the use of hashtags still varies by network. In terms of use, Instagram hashtags, for example, are often more focused on description of the photo and the tools used to take it than on a broader story or theme. This is at odds with Twitter, where hashtags tend to be more focused a topic of conversation, or a group of people (a chat for example) that you would like to engage.

Before using hashtags, do research on the proper way to use them for that particular network. Most networks will have guides for hashtag selection and use (here is Twitter’s). Also take the time to discover the most popular and most relevant hashtags on a specific subject for each network. This extra time you invest will pay off in engagement down the road.

Do come up with relevant, unbranded hashtags

Brand hashtags don’t have to (read: shouldn’t) mention your brand name, but should represent your brand and what you stand for. Herschel Supply Co. offers a prime example of what this means. The bag and accessories brand created a hashtag called #welltravelled, which they used to share beautiful travel photos featuring their products taken by their employees and followers. Seeing photos from regular people on the official Herschel account quickly prompted more of their followers to embrace the hashtag and share their own Herschel photos. As such, the company has created a growing movement that supplies them with fantastic, follower-generated content to use on their social accounts.' 


Don’t go too long or too clever

In general, if you’re creating a branded hashtag you should try to keep it short and sweet. Even though “#NewYorkCronutLovers” might target a very specific audience, no one will use the hashtag because they just don’t want to type in that many characters. You also don’t want to try and be too clever or offbeat (#CroNYts?) since you want people to naturally search for your tag. Hashtags are supposed to make things easier to find and engage with, but long, complicated hashtags can actually be more arduous. In this case, you’re better off with something like #NYcronuts.

Don’t have more hashtags than words.

In fact, don’t even come close. Social media users often used an excessive amount of hashtags ironically or when making a joke. But many Instagram users have also caught onto the fact that more hashtags can mean more reach and likes. So, they’ve overloaded their photos with as many hashtags as they’re allowed – which is reportedly 30. You don’t want to use 30 hashtags on a single post. You don’t even want to use 5 hashtags on a single post. Even if you gain followers, it’s often the wrong kind of follower— spammers or people only interested in being followed back. It generally dilutes your message and comes off as desperate. Focus instead on being specific, which we already explained above.

Don’t hashtag everything

Hashtags serve to make your content discoverable to a wide audience. The truth is, not everything you produce is going to fit into that category. If your Tweet, post or comment isn’t adding any substance to the wider conversation, you might want to consider leaving the hashtag off. For example, if a news story breaks and you simply share the news, leave the hashtag off of it. If you write a blog post that analyzes the impact of that news, then absolutely use a hashtag when you share it.

Using hashtags will allow you to make an impression on a wide social media audience. Make sure you’re sharing the best content, and making the right impression.