It’s hard to remember a time before hashtags. We have Chris Messina to thank for that. Back in 2007, Chris used a hashtag as a method of organising online groups. Little did he know that it would go on to become a symbol for campaigns, both political and commercial, as well as organisations around the globe and, most intriguingly, the future. Here’s what you need to know about hashtags and how they can benefit your businesses social media pages…

What is a hashtag?

Essentially a hashtag is, as Chris Messina intended, a way of funneling news and information about a specific topic into one place. They direct people who are interested in a certain topic into a stream of content related to that subject. For example, if a tweet says “interesting blog post from Divide Digital about #Websites”, you simply click on the part that says ‘#Websites’ where you will be taken to all the latest, trending and most popular content on Twitter related to websites. It works the same way as this on other channels, such as Instagram.

Hashtag Social media

Should my business use hashtags?

Absolutely. The idea of having a business profile on any social media platform is to improve brand recognition, customer service and ultimately, produce sales. Using hashtags that are relevant to your business pushes those who show interest in your field towards your profile. Twitter organise the search into categories. These include:

  • Posts (most popular)
  • Latest
  • People
  • Photos
  • Videos

For example, if you are a photographer, then using hashtags such as #PhotoOfTheDay and #PhotoChallenge will mean those narrowing their search for photography related content will likely see your post on their feed. Additionally, including a hashtag or two in your bio – for example #photographer –  on Twitter will mean those who search for #photographer but look for profiles related to the tag rather than content, will see your profile on their feed.

When searching for #socialmedia – here’s the options you’ll have.

How many hashtags should I use in a post?

We’ve established the importance of using hashtags when you post, so the next question is the quantity of hashtags you use. When it comes to Twitter, using too many in a post can make the post look unattractive, so finding the balance between using them too little and using them too much can be tough. Some  research conducted, displayed in the image below, shows how to manage this problem:

Social media hashtag stats

Here’s some stats proving the benefits – and drawbacks – of using hashtags on Twitter.

When it comes to using hashtags on Instagram, the process is slightly different. The idea of the hashtag directing people towards their desired search is still the same, but the manner of using a hashtag is slightly different. Take a look at the research below. It shows how using more hashtags means more people will see your posts, in contrast to Twitter where using too many hashtags results in a decline in reach.

hashtags on social media

(image courtesy of

Do hashtags work on Facebook?

The object of a hashtag on Facebook is still the same. Including a hashtag in your post and it will still provide the clickable link to the desired page. However, with many accounts private on Facebook, you will need to ensure your page is public for it to be viewable. Facebook works slightly differently regarding trending topics. While hashtags are the bulk of trending topics on Twitter, as opposed to Facebook, which sticks to normal text.

Social Media Hashtags

Can my business have it’s own hashtag?

It certainly can. One way companies improve their identity on social media is to develop their own hashtag. In some cases, larger brands use specific hashtags to represent a campaign. For example, a few years ago Oreo ran a Halloween campaign with the hashtag #OreoHorrorStories which gained international attention and interaction as people posted their own horror stories via the hashtag, further improving their brand recognition. Creating your own hashtag can be a useful branding tool, but it’s not always easy. Take a look at some of the successful campaigns we’ve run for our clients and see if they can help you conjure up some fresh ideas.