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The do's and don'ts of using hashtags on social media

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Hashtag graphic element with blue # symbol and small business owner graphics surrounding

If you aren't using hashtags on social media, you need to start now! Hashtags are a very useful tool for exposing your posts to more than just your follower base. Using a hashtag on social media puts your post in a grouping with other posts using that hashtag, and this makes you discoverable to people who might not otherwise see your post. Trust us—it's worth it!

When it comes to hashtag etiquette, there are a few do's and don'ts to keep in mind. Keep reading for the do's and don't of using hashtags on social media.

DO use niche hashtags

Niche hashtags are very specific to a target audience you're trying to reach. They usually have some sort of identifier in them, oftentimes a location or name.

For example, if your business is a Miami based nail salon, a niche hashtag might be #miaminailart or #miaminailstylist instead of the more general hashtags such as #nailartists. It makes sense to use one of these niche hashtags if you're looking to target more clients in the Miami metro area for your nail business.

DON'T use only hashtags with 2 million tags

One of the most popular hashtags on Instagram is #fashion, with over 860 million tags. Tagging your post with this hashtag will ensure that it gets lost in the masses.

fashion hashtag on instagram

You'll have better luck with a more specific hashtag like #fallfashioninspo:

Fall fashion inspo hashtag results on Instagram

Fall fashion ideas hashtag page on Instagram

This doesn't mean you shouldn't use popular hashtags for your content—if it's relevant, feel free to use it! But know that in general, hashtags with less total tags overall make it easier for your post to get discovered by potential followers.

DO research hashtags before using them

Research is key to using the right hashtags. In order to research hashtags before you use them, get comfortable with how to search for hashtags on any given social platform.

On Facebook, search for hashtags in the search bar. Each hashtag on Facebook has a unique page where you can explore other posts using that hashtag:

Coffee house hashtag search results on Facebook

On Twitter, search a hashtag in the search bar and it will pull up posts using that hashtag. Even further, you can sort by "Top", "Latest", "People", "Photos", and "Videos" using that hashtag.

Coffee house hashtag search results on Twitter

On Instagram, search the hashtag in the search bar or in explore. Instagram will also recommend related hashtags, which is a great way to explore new hashtags that might be related to your posts.

Coffee house hashtag search results on Instagram

For a deeper dive into hashtags on Instagram, read our post about growing your business on Instagram using hashtags.

There are also some useful hashtag generators floating around the web. These tools usually allow you to enter a topic and then they spit out relevant hashtags to that topic. Just do a quick Google search to find a few of the most popular!

DON'T use irrelevant hashtags

Avoid misleading users and only post hashtags that directly relate to your post or content. Have you ever browsed a hashtag page on Instagram and noticed one that did not belong? Don't be that person. People want to see content related to a hashtag that they are exploring. If they find your content with a relevant hashtag that they are interested in, they'll be happy to stop by your profile for a look!

DO use easy-to-read and easy-to-generate hashtags

Aim to use a mix of relevant, succinct hashtags that are easy to read and readily come to mind when considering your topic. Users often search hashtags that they can think of on the fly, so consider what types of hashtags might come to mind for certain topics.

For example, if a user wanted to find a chocolate cake recipe, they'd search the hashtag #chocolatecakerecipe, instead of a hashtag that makes less sense, like #howtobakechocolatecake.

DON'T use super long or complicated hashtags

Using hashtags that are too long actually discourage sharing because users must try and write the whole hashtag out every time they share. Imagine trying to write #fragilisticexpialidocious in your caption. There's a reason there's only a few posts on Instagram with that hashtag! Short hashtags are easier to read, so try to aim for concise hashtags that are applicable for your brand.

Similarly, complicated hashtags are hard to read and hard to replicate. Hashtags with a string of numbers or an unusual combination of words within a hashtag can result in less reach and therefore less discovery.

DO put hashtags in the body of your captions

Adding hashtags into your caption content can be an appropriate and useful way to use hashtags relevant to your content. Just be sure they make sense for the topic and are kept to a minimum. Adding too many hashtags or irrelevant hashtags in your copy can make you look unprofessional. Here's an example:

YES: Today we're going to talk about #melaninhaircare! I'm going to show you my wash routine that I recommend for all my clients, and which products are my absolute favorite for perfect hair, every day!

NO: Today we're going to talk about #melaninhaircare! I'm going to show you my #washroutine that I #recommend for all my #clients, and which #products are my absolute #favorite for #perfecthair, #everyday!

DON'T hashtag every word

Using a hashtag for every word in your caption is messy and difficult to read.

To keep things simple, Twitter recommends using two hashtags or less in each tweet:

Twitter hashtag suggestion tweet

DO spellcheck your hashtag

Spelling a hashtag wrong means you won't show up in the feed for your intended audience! Be sure to spellcheck your caption and hashtags before you post to ensure your content remains professional and credible.

DON'T break your hashtags

Putting spaces or special characters in between words in your hashtag will render your hashtags ineffective. Always put your full hashtag after a # sign, without spaces or special characters.

YES: #happybirthday🎉 *emojis will show up in your hashtags on Instagram!

NO: #happy birthday

NO: #happy!birthday!


If you haven't started already, try out hashtags in your next social media post! With a bit of practice, hashtags can help you expand your reach on social and gain more traction.

For more do's and don'ts, read about social media etiquette!


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