Updated: Mar 24, 2021
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.
You'll have better luck with a more specific hashtag like #fallfashioninspo:
Or even #fallfashionideas:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.