How to successfully use hashtags across social media platforms:

Hashtags are an important part of a social media strategy and if you use them effectively, can help you reach new audiences and potential customers online. Have you ever wondered what exactly is the significance of hashtags and why people use them?

Hashtags are basically used to group conversations, photos, videos, discussions, and many other varieties of content that you put up on social media under one category. For example, if you record a 30-second video of a cat on Instagram and post it under the caption “#cats” anyone who searches the word cat on their search page may come across your video provided you have a public account. Think of a hashtag as a keyword. Like under the keyword: groceries you have milk, cookies, rice, masalas and cheese etc.

The Significance of Hashtags

Throughout the years there have been many powerful hashtags that millions and millions of people have used which have created massive awareness among us with the use of social media. You may have come across #BlackLivesMatter, #IceBucketChallenge, #PrayForJapan or #KiaKahaChristchurch in recent years. These were significant hashtags that within minutes of people posting have gone viral and have made people across borders aware and come together to either fight for a right cause or show solidarity and condemn the wrongdoings. Such is the power of a hashtag.

Thus, a hashtag is a solid way of providing social media users exactly what they are looking for. Hashtags help you to show support for an issue, engage with your followers, provide you an opportunity to develop your brand and add context to your posts.

The big question here is, how do you know which hashtags to use to find the right audience?

You can start by observing what your competitors and influencers are up to. Avoid using adjectives like #beauty #heavenly etc and use hashtags describing the actions on the posts. For example, if you are going on a hike using hashtags like #hike #hikerlife #outdoorlife . Describe the location of the hike instead of describing the scenery of the hike. If you own a bakery then use the name of your shop, the products you offer (#mooncake, #barbiecakes), the aesthetic your bakery has (#frenchbakery #modernbakery), etc. In short: be specific and smart. Do not use long or extremely unique hashtags. This will limit your reach and engagement across users.

A very beneficial tool that you can use is You can find the best hashtags for Twitter & Instagram and search hashtags relations and influencers and maximize your social media strategy with Hashtagify. It's also useful in analyzing the hashtags’ reach and engagement with which you can then understand and get a better idea of which hashtags work for your posts and business.

If you are able to figure out and have knowledge of the hashtags which are working for your posts you can use related hashtags on your posts which you can find if you look at a few of the“Top” and “Recent” posts with that hashtag on the Instagram search page.

Above: the "top" and "recent" posts for the popular hashtag #healthyeating

The next question is: "What is a suitable number of hashtags to use in posts? Your post can have 1 hashtag or as many as 30 hashtags, depending upon the platform.

On Twitter, 2 hashtags are sufficient to make a point. You can either use them right in the beginning or in the middle to state an emphasis on your post. Otherwise, you can comment on your tweet with all the relevant hashtags to your post.

It is the same on Facebook. However, there have been arguments where the level of reach that Facebook has on their posts was less compared to the posts which did not have any hashtags. Facebook works better when you use geolocation tags, tag people and events in your posts.

On Instagram, the ideal number would be 5 hashtags on your posts. However you can use up to 30 hashtags in each Instagram post and 10 in a story, and many accounts utilise this. Instagram has options for you to use hashtags in your bios as well. The tag tab on the Instagram search page is really helpful to understand what hashtags are trending, and your insights button on each individual post will give you data on how many impressions you got via the hashtags that you used.

Above: The insights section of an individual Instagram post, showing where the most impressions came from. There were 256 impressions from hashtags used in the post.

If you use hashtags to your advantage and use them wisely to suit each platform you can boost your reach and engagement to a great degree.

For answers to any questions about hashtags and how to use them effectively join the conversation on my Instagram @catherine.socialmedia

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