The "hashtag" symbol - also called "octothorpe" - was originally used to mark numbers.

The hashtag was first used in the sense in which we all know it in the summer of 2007 by Chris Messina on the Twitter platform.

Then, he suggested to start using the "hashtag" symbol to group posts related or similar to a certain topic.

Since then, the use of hashtags, their reach and effectiveness has grown.

Today, a hashtag is a tag for content that helps those interested in a particular topic quickly find content on the same topic.

Think of hashtags as a way to connect social media content to a specific topic, event, theme, or conversation.

These aren't just used on Twitter anymore. Hashtags are effective on other social media platforms as well. (Which we'll talk about along the way)

Basics of using hashtags

  • They always start with #, but won't work if you use spaces, punctuation or symbols.
  • Make sure you have the public account. Otherwise, the tagged content you write won't be seen by anyone who isn't following you.
  • Don't use too many words together. The best hashtags tend to be relatively short and easy to remember.
  • Create your own hashtag. Anyone can create a hashtag. All you have to do to create a hashtag is think of it, and then start using it in your posts.
  • Use relevant and specific hashtags. If it's too unusual, it will be hard to find and probably won't be used by other social media users.
  • Limit the number of hashtags you use. More is not always better. In fact, they may even look like spam.

Why use hashtags?

  • Benefit from much greater engagement with your followers.

Including hashtags in your posts means participating in a conversation going on on that social media platform. And most importantly, it makes your posts visible in that conversation.

This can lead to greater engagement, boosting your brand's social media engagement through likes, shares, comments and new followers.

  • It is a way to show support for social issues or causes

Using a hashtag that is related to an issue beyond your brand is a way to join and show your support for an important cause or issue.

For example, #EachforEqual and #IWD2020 were used across all social media platforms, including LinkedIn, on International Women's Day.

Rio Tinto post on LinkedIn using #eachforequal

  • They add context to a social media post

On Twitter, you don't have a lot of space to write description text. You have 280 characters to be exact.

On Instagram, longer descriptions or texts are not always the most effective. The same goes for Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn or any other platform – sometimes less is better.

Using a hashtag can be a simple way to contextualize what you want to convey without writing extremely long and repetitive text.

A good example is NASA, who celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 2019. Using the hashtag #Apollo50 was part of their digital campaign.

So, on World Emoji Day, which is also in July, NASA posted one of the most popular tweets to celebrate both events:

  • It will help your target audience find you more easily

On Instagram and LinkedIn, users can follow hashtags as well as other users. Using a few popular hashtags can be another way to help new users find you.

Travel hashtag page on Instagram with 377,000,000 posts For example, if you use #travel or #food in your Instagram posts, someone who follows that hashtag will see your recent post in their feed.

So you might gain some new followers that way.

The Best Hashtags: 6 Ways to Find the Right Ones

To find hashtags specific to your brand, industry, and audience, you'll need to do a little research on your environment.

  1. Research your social media influencers and competitors.

Start by doing a competitive analysis on social media. Gather information about your competitors and any relevant influencers in your brand's niche or environment.

Note which hashtags they use the most and how many hashtags they use in each of their posts. This will help you learn how your competitors interact with your common target audience and what keywords they tend to use and which perform best.

  1. Use is a site that helps you find the best hashtags to use on Twitter or Instagram to improve your brand name.

With this tool, you can search for any hashtag and see how popular it is at that moment. For example, if you search for the popularity of #March, you will get results that show you the overall popularity of this hashtag, its recent popularity, and trends for the month and week.

You can also enter the description you want to use for Twitter or Instagram and it will give you hashtag suggestions.

  1. Find out what hashtags are trending

RiteTag allows you to enter the description you want to add to social media in the text bar and upload the photo to go with that text.

RiteTag then generates hashtag suggestions based on your content.

You'll see the best hashtags to get your post seen right away, as well as hashtags to get your post as visible as possible in a short amount of time.

Click "Get Report" for a detailed analysis of the displayed hashtags.

hashtag comparison page on RiteTag

  1. Find similar hashtags

If you already know which hashtag works well for your brand, consider using related hashtags. These might be a little more specific than the popular hashtags you're already using, which can help you connect with a more specific and targeted audience.

On Instagram, similar hashtags are displayed just above the "Top" and "Recent" tabs in the "Explore" section.

hashtag page for "travel" on Instagram, highlighting related hashtags

On LinkedIn, it's even easier. You just need to tap on any hashtag and you will be able to see the option to discover more hashtags.

  1. Analyze which hashtags have been successful in previous posts

Keep track of hashtags you've used in previous posts.

Analyze which posts were most popular, then see if the hashtags you used are currently trending.

If you notice that some of your most popular posts always contain the same hashtags, try to include them in your future posts as well.

How to use hashtags on every social media platform

Below we have listed some simple and easy to follow tips for using hashtags on different social media platforms.

How to use hashtags on Twitter

  • The optimal number of hashtags you should use: 1-2
  • Where you can use hashtags on Twitter: You can use hashtags anywhere in your posts

Use them at the beginning for emphasis, at the end for context, or in the middle of your post to highlight a keyword.

Hashtags can also be added in a comment when you retweet a tweet, in replies, and in your Twitter bio.

You can also try:

  1. Enter a hashtag keyword in the Twitter search bar to find content similar to that word or in the same domain.
  2. Access trending hashtags in trending topics on Twitter.

Some other essential tips to remember when using hashtags:

  • In theory, you can use as many hashtags as you want in a Tweet, within the 280 character limit. However, Twitter recommends do not use more than two, because you will not be successful.
  • If you want to create a new hashtag, do some research first to make sure it's not already being used and popularized.

How to use hashtags on Facebook

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 1-2
  • Where you'll be able to use hashtags on Facebook: Hashtags can be included in any part of your Facebook post or comments.

Hashtags are also useful for grouping content into private Facebook groups around specific themes or topics. This is important in the case of brands, which must take into account that Facebook understands when its users switch to private channels.

You can also try:

  1. Search for a hashtag using the Facebook search bar.
  2. Click on a hashtag to see a stream of Facebook posts that use the same hashtag and are similar to that topic.
  3. Search for hashtags used in private Facebook groups using the "Search this group" bar in the group menu.

Some other essential tips for using hashtags on Facebook:

  • Because so many user profiles are private on Facebook, it is all the more difficult for brands to track how users interact with their hashtags.
  • Monitor your brand's hashtags and see which public profiles are joining the conversation or topic related to those hashtags by using the URL Include at the end (in the blank) the keyword you want to search for.

How to use hashtags on Instagram

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 5-10
  • Where to use hashtags on Instagram: Include hashtags after writing a very good Instagram caption/description. You can also include hashtags in the comments section when engaging in a discussion with your followers.

You can also include up to 10 hashtags in your Instagram stories.

It is also possible to include hashtags in your brand's Instagram profile bio.

You can also try:

  1. Search for hashtags in the "Tags" tab of the Explore - Search section of Instagram.
  2. Follow different hashtags. That means any content from any creator will show up in your feed as long as it includes the hashtag you're following.

Some other essential tips for using hashtags on Instagram:

  • Consider posting your hashtags as the first comment on your original post so your followers can focus on the great description you've composed.
  • With an Instagram Business account, you can access Instagram Insights. Thus, you will be able to see how many impressions your profile has received due to hashtags.

Instagram Insights page showing where to see how many people saw your post because of your hashtags

How to use hashtags on YouTube

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 2-3
  • Where to use hashtags on YouTube: Add some hashtags to your YouTube video title or video description.

Click on the hyperlinked hashtag to see a stream of other videos that also use the same hashtag.

But, you have to remember: don't use more than 15 hashtags. Otherwise, YouTube will ignore all hashtags and may even flag your content due to your seemingly spammy behavior.

However, hashtags on YouTube aren't the only way to help users find your videos. There are plenty of others tactics that will help your brand's videos get views.

Some other essential tips for using hashtags on YouTube:

  • Hashtags are hyperlinked in titles and descriptions so followers/subscribers can find other content with the same hashtags by just clicking on any of them.
  • If you choose not to include hashtags in the title, the first three hashtags in the description will appear above the title of your videos.

How to use hashtags on LinkedIn

You can also try:

  1. Search for hashtags using the platform's search bar.
  2. Access LinkedIn's trending hashtags, which are displayed in the "news and views" section on the home page.
  3. Get hashtag suggestions from LinkedIn as you write an update or article.

Some other essential tips for using hashtags on LinkedIn:

  • LinkedIn is a professional platform. So try to adapt your hashtag usage in the same way.
  • Follow hashtags on LinkedIn to see the latest posts using that hashtag.

How to use hashtags on Pinterest

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 2-5
  • Where you can use hashtags on Pinterest: When you use Pinterest for business, include hashtags when writing a description for a post or in a description written when reposting.

Pinterest even offers hashtag suggestions (mobile only) when you create a new Pin.

Some other essential tips for using hashtags on Pinterest:

  • Think of Pinterest as a search engine. Use hashtags that are searchable, specific and contain relevant keywords.
  • It's important don't use more than 20 hashtags in a Pin description.

If you haven't already, now is the time to start using hashtags in your social media posts. Today, they are much more useful and popular than when they were first used.

Frequent questions

  • What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a tag for specific content, represented by the symbol #. It helps other users who are interested in a particular topic to quickly find content on the same topic.

  • Why is it necessary to use hashtags?

Including hashtags in your content can bring you a lot of benefits in the long run. They can give you opportunities to increase your brand name and also have increased engagement with your followers. Hashtags also add context to your social media posts and are a way to show support for certain issues or social causes.

  • What is the most important rule of hashtags?

There are a lot of important rules you can use to perfect your content, but when it comes to hashtags, it's important to avoid polluting them. Specifically, don't use multiple hashtags in a single message. The recommended maximum number of hashtags is 2 per message.

  • What are the most popular hashtags on social media?

The most popular and also the most frequently used hashtags are those used to commemorate a specific memory or photo: #throwbackthursday, #flashbackfriday or #throwbacktime. These are also the ones that have the highest rate of creating a conversation with other users.

  • When did the hashtag first appear?

Chris Messina is the one who suggested, for the first time in 2007, to those at Twitter, that the symbol "hash" (later called hashtag) be used to group similar or related content. He was also the one who used it for the first time, in a tweet in which he asked the same question, publicly, to all Twitter users.