From Hash Browns to Hashtags: The World of Social Media Tagging

If you don’t know the difference between hashtags and hash browns you’re not alone.

After all, they’re both kind of criss-crossy, right?

Hashtags have been around for more than a decade but knowing what to do with them can be confusing for the uninitiated.

How many should you use? Can you use them on Facebook? What does it mean if a hashtag is trending? Do they go well with bacon and eggs?


First, a quick history lesson.

The hashtag symbol (or octothorpe if you want to be fancy) can be traced back to ancient Rome. It comes from the Latin term libra pondo, meaning ‘pound in weight’, which was shortened to ‘lb’, eventually evolving to ‘#’.

Over the years it’s been used to indicate weight, numbers, checkmate, a sharp musical note and more.

Then in 2007, social technology expert and self-described “hash godfather” Chris Messina gave it a whole new application when he asked his X (Twitter) followers what they thought about using  ‘#’ to group conversations together.

The rest, they say, is #history.

Using a hashtag in a social media post, be it X, Instagram or Facebook, acts like an index and makes your social media content searchable.

When you click on a hashtag it takes you to a page of other posts using the same one. The more a hashtag is used the more likely it is to trend.

Knowing how to use a hashtag properly is like knowing whether your audience likes red or brown sauce on their hash browns.

So what’s crucial when tackling hashtags?

  • It’s important to make sure they are specific to the audience you’re trying to attract.
  • Look at similar accounts to see what hashtags they’re using, and make use of hashtag generator tools like Ritetag.
  • Using trending hashtags for the sake of it can make your brand look inauthentic and insincere. Don’t jump on the bandwagon if it has no connection to who you are and what you’re doing.

By all means, shout about team doughnuts and share the occasion on
#WorldDoughnutDay. But don’t use it if there isn’t a doughnut in sight.

And know your platform.

Research shows that on X and Facebook using one hashtag generates the most engagement, but on Instagram, more is generally more (although there is a limit of 30 per caption or comment).

There’s a bit of a science to it, but if you know what you’re doing hashtags can really boost your digital marketing strategy.

As a social media marketing agency, when it comes to hashtags we know the tricks of the trade.

You can find us at #likeablelab or contact us here.



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