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Hashtag Use Across Social Media Platforms

facebook google plus instagram pinterest social media twitter Apr 03, 2014

In my last blog, I went over why hashtags are important in business. Now I will go over the differences between using hashtags across the major social platforms. They are not all the same. It is very important to know the differences so you can utilize hashtags properly to help your business depending on your social platform(s) of choice. Plus, on some social platforms, you may drive followers or fans away if you overuse hashtags.


There was a time when hashtags didn’t really mean much on Facebook. However, that has changed.  You can now click on a hashtag on Facebook and get a list of content that has used that same hashtag. This is great if you are researching a specific topic and are looking for more information on a specific topic.  You can also use hashtags to keep up with what your competition is talking about and to keep up with trends in your industry or a specific topic.  Another way to use hashtags on Facebook is to find a very specific hashtag that suits your business and use it for posts you want to track.  This will allow you to see how far your content has traveled and everyone who has commented or shared that content.

There are two ways to search hashtags on Facebook:

1. Click on the Hashtag

2. Type # with the word or phrase you are searching in the search box.

There are some basic rules you should keep in mind when using hashtags on Facebook.  First, many Facebook users are still not savvy with hashtags on Facebook and are not accustomed to seeing them there.  You do not want to annoy your friends with multitudes of hashtags in your posts.  Limit the number of hashtags you use on Facebook to 3 or fewer strategic ones.


Hashtags still rule on Twitter.  Hashtags can be used to amplify your message.  On Twitter, hashtags are search terms and people will find your content when searching for the term in your hashtag.  They can be used to group content together.  For example, if you are running a campaign, you may want to have a specific hashtag for that particular campaign.  They may also be used to group conversations and ideas or thoughts together.  On Twitter, you are limited to 140 characters (including hashtags), but it is best to limit Twitter posts to 120 characters to encourage sharing.


As of July 29, 2013, LinkedIn has removed the LinkedIn Signal feature. Along with that, the use of hashtags is no longer a function on LinkedIn since the hashtag function on LinkedIn took you into Signal.  At this time hashtags are not clickable or searchable on LinkedIn.


As of June 2017, LinkedIn does support hashtags.  My suggestion is to use them sparingly (no more than a few) and use them for social listening. For instance, if you are a B2B Marketer, #B2BMarketing may be a hashtag to "listen" to because it will keep you up-to-date with what other B2B Marketers are doing. 


Hashtags are alive and well on Google+.  As a matter of fact, if you don’t use hashtags on Google+ and post content, Google+ will hashtag your post for you in the upper right-hand corner based on content.  If Google+ uses a hashtag that you chose, it will appear in gray.  If it is one that Google+ chooses for you, it will appear in blue.  You may also want to use your own hashtags since they are fully functional on Google+.  You may remove the Google+ selected hashtag by clicking the X.  You may also change your settings to prevent Google+ from tagging your posts.  As with Twitter, you can use hashtags to group conversations, promotions, ideas, etc.  They are also clickable and searchable, so you can track, research, and check out what others are saying.


On Pinterest, hashtags a little less effective, but still usable and clickable if used in the pin description.  Since the results can be broad if you want to track a campaign or one of your pinboards, use a hashtag that is unique.  Results can be pretty random, so a unique hashtag the best if you plan on tracking it.  In searches, results are based on traffic, so the results of a search will have the most popular pins at the top, so I don;t recommend using popular hashtags because you will lead people to other people's pins instead of keeping them on yours.


Instagram is where I have seen the most prevalent use of hashtags, mainly because there is no 140 character limitation as on Twitter.  Hashtags are the main way to search pictures on Instagram, so hashtags are critical in order to be found and followed.  Some hashtags you may want to use are your user name, descriptive words that tell what the picture is, where the picture is taken, or certain equipment that was used in the setting or picture.

I have seen mixed reviews on the number of hashtags that is best or appropriate, so I will tell you what I recommend.  In the initial description of the picture, I would limit the number of hashtags to three (3).  The reason I make this suggestion is because many Instagram users cross-post to other social platforms where hashtags may not be as prevalently used or even useful.  Then in comments, use any other hashtags you want to tag the photo with (this is where opinions differ)*.  The reason I personally make this suggestion is that I have seen clients build super successful businesses just by using this strategy on Instagram.  This does not suggest that your results will be the same.  It really depends on your business.  If this is the social platform where your clients frequent most, use this strategy.  If your clients are not here, it could be a waste of your time.

One great thing about hashtags on Instagram is that Instagram saves your hashtags.  You can even save lists of your most frequently used hashtags.  This saves you a lot of time if your posts are related to one specific topic.  If you are looking to build a following for your business, you can build it rather quickly on Instagram with a strategic use of the right hashtags.

*Research as of 7/8/15 suggests that the sweet spot for the number of hashtags on Instagram is 11 hashtags.

There are many other social platforms out there.  Here I am only addressing the ones people ask me about the most.  Do your research on which platform(s) will serve you best!  

A Word of Caution: When posting through HootSuite, Buffer, or similar sites to post across multiple social platforms, keep the number of hashtags to 3 or less.  You can always go back and add more hashtags in comments.