What is a Hashtag?

Why should I care about hashtags?

You’ve heard people talk about them, you see them on TV in the bottom corner of your favorite TV show.

But what are hashtags? Should you care? If so, why?

Yes, you should care. Here are two reasons:

  1. A hashtag makes your content searchable. That means that people you aren’t connected to can still see what you write, whether they know who you are or not, as long as they search the hashtag.
  2. Hashtags help you find topics you’re interested in. During baseball season, I closely follow #stlcards. It’s widely used among St. Louis Cardinals fans to talk about the game and news about the team.

Here are six things you need to know to use hashtags well:

  1. Shorter is better. You only have 140 characters, so make your hashtag as short as possible. If you’re planning an event, the name of the event or a shortened version with the year works well.
  2. Be unique. If you’re choosing a hashtag for an event or program, be sure it hasn’t been used before, or you may find yourself with some unexpected posts.
  3. Search for topics that interest you.
  4. Use them in your own updates. Think about who you’re trying to reach. Research applicable hashtags and have them in mind. For example, this tweet targets people who are interested in mobile technology and email marketing.


  • Join trending topics. Select local, national, or worldwide trends and use the hashtag if — and only if — it relates to your content.
  • Use hashtags on Facebook and Instagram. There are also purely fun hashtags, such as #foodporn – pictures of delicious and decadent food – that are popular on Twitter and Instagram.

One last thing. When you start using Twitter, you’ll see “fake” hashtags that function more as asides, often sarcastic. Have fun with those, but they aren’t always meant to be searchable.

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