Monday, November 3, 2014

Social Media Monday—5 Tips for Using Hashtags Correctly

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Hashtags—especially for Twitter—can be incredibly valuable in helping us increase out audience. But only if we learn to use them correctly. 

They’re not that hard, but there are some rules you need to follow so you’re not wasting valuable real estate in your tweets.

Hashtag Refersher
First, lets back up and evaluate the reason we’re all working at building an online presence. We are looking to deepen existing relationships and build new ones. But building new ones can be difficult if the only people we interact with are those we already know, either online or in person.

We can get a little bit of exposure to new folks by our existing connections introducing us, but that’s a time consuming way to go about it.

What if there was a way for someone to search a given social media network by topic and find new, interesting people to interact with? That would be a great way to grow our connections.

THAT, in the simplest of terms, is the purpose of using hashtags.

When you compose a social media update that includes one or two hashtags that summarize the topic—you are giving folks who wouldn’t otherwise have a connection with you—a way to find you.

Here’s an example of the correct way to do this. At the end of this post you’ll find a tweet I composed about today’s post:
5 Tips for Using Hashtags Correctly – via #SocialMedia Mentor @EdieMelson #twitter (Click to Tweet)

5 Tips for Using Hashtags Correctly
1. Don’t overload your social media updates with hashtags. The optimum number of hashtags depends on the social media network you’re on.
  • Twitter: two hashtags is best, but one or three will also work.
  • Facebook: no more than one hashtag per update, otherwise you may be unintentionally spamming your followers
  • Instagram: two hashtags is best, but one or three will also work here as well.

2. Take time to research the best hashtags. Some hashtags are better than others. You won’t know which ones are most current unless you take time research them. The best way to do your research? Do a search on the social media network where you want to use the hashtag. You can also research a hashtag by typing it into the Google search engine and seeing what updates come up. To help, here's a post I wrote listing some of the more popular hashtags for writers

3. Making up a new hashtag is fine—if you pair it with a popular hashtag. If I wanted to try to make #TheWriteConversation into a writing hashtag, it wouldn’t do me any good unless I paired it with another popular #writing hashtag. No one is going to know to search for #TheWriteConversation unless I educate them. If I just use #TheWriteConversation, it’s no more than wasted space in my social media update.

4. Remember a space ends the hashtag. So often I see people forget and add a space in between two words in a hashtag. Once you hit the space bar, the hashtag ends. So #Social Media is really only the hashtag #Social, instead of #SocialMedia. NOTE: this is also true of the @ sign. If I type @Edie Melson, it’s just like I’m typing @Edie, and that person is NOT me.

5. Leave some room at the end of your tweets so your hashtags aren’t cut off if it’s retweeted. Tweets are only 140 characters long. If I use all 140 characters, then if anyone retweets it, the end will be cut off because there’s no room for the retweeters information that goes at the beginning of the tweet. I try to leave 10 to 15 blank characters, but my absolute minimum is 7. This insures at least one unchanged retweet.

These are my top 5 tips for using hashtags correctly. I’d love for you to share yours. Or, be sure to leave any questions about hashtags you have in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!



  1. Thanks for the helpful tips. I never understood why to leave the space in the tweet. Now it makes sense.

    1. Ginger, don't feel bad. It took me quite a while to catch on, too! Blessings, E

  2. Thank you for this helpful list of tips! Very timely.

    1. Elizabeth, I'm so glad I was able to help! Blessings, E

  3. Thanks for the tips. It never occurred to me to leave space at the end of a tweet for RTing.

    1. Kimberly, thanks so much for stopping by, Blessings, E

  4. Thanks for the refresher. I still wasn't doing it right and didn't even think about leaving the space at the end.

    1. Barbara, so glad this was helpful, Blessings, E

  5. Loved this, Edie. I get confused with hashtags and knowing how to use them effectively. I appreciate your posts on the subject! So, if I use hashtag on the link that uploads my blog to Facebook and Twitter, is it appropriate to use the main idea of my blog. For example, when I wrote about life's interruptions, I used a hashtag, "#changeinplans." Is this a waste of space?

    Thanks so much for sharing your valuable knowledge!!

    1. Jeanne, I looked that hashtag up and it's not very popular. I would use #interruptions as the main one. A lot of folks use made up hashtags as a clever way to get across a point and that's not a bad thing. But if your goal is to find new connections, it doesn't do much good. It all depends on what you want your hashtag to do. I hope this helps. Blessings, E

  6. Replies
    1. Pat, thanks so much for the feedback. I always wonder if I'm helping or just boring everyone with things they already know. Blessings, E