Flower shop owner uses phone to promote business
You can increase engagement when you know how to best use hashtags on each popular social media platform. — Getty Images/Geber86

Hashtags (and social media platforms) have come a long way since the Merriam-Webster Dictionary added the term “hashtag” to the dictionary in 2008. Moreover, they’ve become an important marketing tool for small businesses. You can use a trending hashtag to start a conversation with your community or join one.

A social media hashtag can boost brand awareness and encourage conversations. Remember, though, that too many hashtags can overwhelm your message. Also, hashtags aren’t necessarily equally meaningful across all platforms: Some that work well on Twitter may not be suitable for Instagram, for example. If you’re new to using hashtags or want a refresher, you can use these tips to get the most from your social media marketing strategy.

Use hashtags on Twitter

According to HubSpot, “tweets with no hashtags averaged 1.7 interactions per tweet.” In comparison, “some Twitter hashtags correlate with a 1,065% increase in engagement.” Still, you only have 280 characters to capture your audience’s attention.

Twitter recommends using two hashtags per tweet, and HubSpot highlights the following categories as most popular on Twitter:

  • History months: Harvard University has a list of heritage months, and HubSpot says, “#BlackHistoryMonth and #WomensHistoryMonth ranked 5th and 6th, respectively.”
  • Contests: Promote your giveaway with one high-ranking recommendation from RiteTag, such as #Contest, #Win, #Giveaway, or #ContestAlert.
  • Holidays: Celebrate a major holiday on Twitter, and don’t forget tags related to your industry, like #NationalEatYourVegetablesDay for restaurants. C3 Social provides a complete list of hashtags for the 2022 holidays.
  • Evergreen topics: HubSpot suggests using “strong-performing content like #Photography, #Funny, and #Pets.”

Find hashtags on Twitter by putting a hashtagged keyword into the platform’s search bar and reviewing the related content. Also, check out Twitter’s trending topics to see popular ones. Alternatively, use third-party tools like RiteTag or Hashtagify to find top-performing tags.

[Read more: How to Use Hashtags to Promote Your Small Business on Instagram and TikTok]

Hashtags aren’t necessarily equally meaningful across all platforms: Some that work well on Twitter may not be suitable for Instagram, for example.

Add hashtags on Instagram

Socialinsider recommends that small accounts with 5,000 to 10,000 followers “include an average of five to six tags in their Instagram posts to reach an average engagement rate by impressions of 3.79%.” Likewise, Instagram suggests that users “keep the number of hashtags between three to five.” Put the hashtags at the end of your caption, and if you want to add more, put them in a comment.

But beware of banned hashtags. Markitors reported that “#happythanksgiving was completely overrun with spam, so they banned it.” Indeed, hashtag bans change daily, so it’s vital to research your hashtags before using them.

Markitors says that brands should research the hashtag they want to use on Instagram and “see if the posts are outdated, meaning Instagram likely capped the number of posts using that hashtag.” Plus, check out the associated content and avoid using hashtags that display spammy posts.

Tailwind’s free hashtag finder provides a list of color-coded hashtags when creating a post using the app. The company suggests adding hashtags from differently colored categories to get better results.

Leverage hashtags on Facebook

Hootsuite advises adding two to three hashtags per Facebook post and using them to group “content in private Facebook groups by theme or topic.” Hashtags on Facebook make posts searchable, support brand awareness goals, and can increase engagement.

You can search hashtags on the main platform or in private and community groups. When you click on a hashtag, Facebook shows posts using the hashtag. In addition, Hootsuite suggests tracking your branded hashtags “by using the URL facebook.com/hashtag/__. Include the keyword you want to search at the end.”

[Read more: 5 Tips for a Killer Small Business Facebook Strategy]

Include Hashtags on TikTok

TikTok has a 300-character limit, and your hashtags must fit within that limit. Sprout Social recommends adding three to five tags per video description. The company also said hashtags “categorize video content uploaded to the platform so users can find it easily.”

You can use the TikTok hashtag generator tool or Hashtag Expert to find relevant tags. Furthermore, Sprout Social advises businesses to add niche hashtags and more popular or trending ones on the same post. An example of this is jumping on a popular social media holiday but adding an industry-specific or hobby-related tag. A restaurant may mention #FathersDay as the popular holiday tag and #BBQ as the industry-specific tag.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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