What is a Hashtag?

What Does a Hashtag Mean in Marketing?

In the world of social media and digital marketing, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the '#' symbol. It was first introduced on Twitter in 2007, and since then, it has become a ubiquitous feature on almost all social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

How Does A Hashtag Work?

A hashtag enables social media users to categorise their content, making it easier to find and connect with people who have similar interests. When a user clicks on a hashtag or searches for a particular hashtag, they are directed to a page that displays all the public posts containing the same hashtag. It allows people to explore a particular topic, trend, or conversation happening on social media.

For example, if someone shares a photo of their pet dog and includes the hashtag #dogsofinstagram, their post will appear on the page displaying all the other public posts with the same hashtag.

Importance of Hashtags in Marketing.

In the world of marketing, hashtags have become an essential tool for businesses to reach a broader audience, improve brand recognition and visibility, and engage with their customers. By using relevant hashtags in their social media posts, businesses can attract new followers, increase their social media presence, and drive more traffic to their website.

Hashtags are especially useful in promoting events, product launches, and new campaigns. By creating a unique hashtag that reflects the theme or message of the campaign, businesses can generate buzz around their brand and encourage their followers to share their content.

Best Practices For Using Hashtags In Marketing.

To make the most of hashtags in marketing, businesses need to follow some best practices, which include:

  • Be Specific: Use hashtags that are relevant and specific to your content. Avoid using overly broad or generic hashtags that may not accurately represent your content or reach your target audience.
  • Research Popular Hashtags: Conduct research to identify popular and trending hashtags that are relevant to your industry, topic, or campaign. Using popular hashtags can help increase the visibility of your content and attract more engagement.
  • Use a Mix of Popular and Niche Hashtags: While popular hashtags can help increase visibility, using niche hashtags that are specific to your industry or target audience can also be effective in reaching a more engaged and targeted audience.
  • Keep it Simple and Easy to Read: Avoid using complex or hard-to-read hashtags. Keep them simple, easy to spell, and easy to remember. Avoid using too many hashtags in a single post, as it can make your content look spammy.
  • Be Mindful of Hashtag Etiquette: Understand the culture and norms of each social media platform when using hashtags. Some platforms, such as Instagram, tend to use more hashtags per post, while others, like LinkedIn, may have different hashtag etiquette. Avoid using irrelevant or offensive hashtags and always follow the platform's guidelines.
  • Create Your Own Branded Hashtag: Consider creating your own branded hashtag for your business, campaign, or event. Branded hashtags can help increase brand awareness, encourage user-generated content, and create a sense of community around your brand.
  • Test and Track: Experiment with different hashtags and track their performance to see which ones resonate best with your audience and generate the most engagement. Use analytics tools to measure the success of your hashtag campaigns and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Engage with Hashtag Conversations: Don't just use hashtags to promote your content, but also actively engage with hashtag conversations. Like, comment, and share posts that use relevant hashtags to build relationships, increase your brand visibility, and expand your reach.

By following these best practices, businesses can effectively use hashtags to enhance their social media marketing efforts, increase content visibility, and engage with their target audience.

"Hashtags categorise and connect social media content, boosting marketing reach. They increase visibility, engagement, and brand awareness. However, overuse, irrelevance, limited reach, and misuse can hinder success. Strategic and mindful hashtag usage is crucial - never overuse hashtags."

Paul Mills
CEO & Founder, VCMO

Examples of How to Use Hashtags in Social Media Marketing.

Here are five examples of how hashtags can be used effectively in social media:

  1. Campaign Hashtags: Creating a unique hashtag for a marketing campaign or promotion can help you track and monitor its success. For example, a clothing brand may use #SummerStyleVibes for a summer-themed campaign to promote their latest collection.
  2. Trending Hashtags: Jumping on popular and relevant hashtags that are currently trending can help you increase your visibility and reach. For example, during a major event like the Super Bowl, you could use hashtags like #SuperBowl, #GameDay, or #SuperBowlAds to join the conversation and engage with your audience.
  3. Branded Hashtags: Creating a branded hashtag for your business or brand can help you build a community and encourage user-generated content. For example, Starbucks uses the hashtag #Starbucks to encourage customers to share their Starbucks moments and engage with their brand.
  4. Content Hashtags: Using hashtags that are relevant to the content you are sharing can help you reach a wider audience interested in that topic. For example, a fitness blogger may use hashtags like #FitnessTips, #HealthyLifestyle, or #WorkoutMotivation in their posts to attract fitness enthusiasts.
  5. Location-based Hashtags: Using hashtags that are specific to a location can help you target a local audience or promote a local event or business. For example, a restaurant in London may use hashtags like #LondonFoodie, #LondonEats, or #LondonRestaurants to connect with potential customers in the area.

Remember, it's important to research and use hashtags that are relevant, popular, and aligned with your marketing goals. Using a mix of campaign-specific, trending, branded, content, and location-based hashtags can help you expand your reach, increase engagement, and connect with your target audience on social media.

How Many Hashtags Can I use in Social Media?

There is generally a limit to the number of hashtags you should use in your social media marketing efforts. The optimal number of hashtags can vary depending on the social media platform you are using, as each platform has its own norms and best practices.

Here are some general guidelines for hashtag usage on popular social media platforms:


Best practice is to use 1-2 hashtags per tweet. Tweets with more than 2 hashtags may start to look spammy and can be less effective in engaging users.


Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but using a large number of hashtags can make your caption look cluttered. It's generally recommended to use around 5-10 relevant and specific hashtags per post.


Facebook is not as hashtag-driven as Instagram and Twitter. While you can still use hashtags on Facebook, it's recommended to keep them minimal, usually 1-2 per post.


LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, and hashtags are not as commonly used as on other social media platforms. It's generally recommended to use 2-5 relevant hashtags per LinkedIn post.

Remember, the key is to use hashtags strategically and purposefully, focusing on relevance and quality rather than quantity. Overuse of hashtags can make your content look spammy and could negatively impact your marketing efforts. It's also important to monitor and adjust your hashtag strategy based on performance and engagement to ensure optimal results.

Advantages of Using Hashtags in Marketing.

There are several advantages of using hashtags in your social media marketing strategy:

  • Increased Visibility: Using hashtags can help you increase the visibility of your content to a wider audience. When you use hashtags, your content becomes discoverable by users who are searching for or following those hashtags. This can lead to increased reach and engagement with your content.
  • Enhanced Engagement: Hashtags can help you engage with your audience and foster conversations around specific topics. By using hashtags that are relevant to your content or target audience, you can encourage users to engage with your posts, leave comments, and share their thoughts or experiences related to the hashtag.
  • Targeted Audience: Hashtags allow you to target specific audiences or communities that are interested in the topics or themes associated with the hashtags you use. This can help you connect with your target audience and increase the relevancy of your content to the users who are most likely to be interested in it.
  • Brand Awareness: Creating and using branded hashtags can help you build brand awareness and encourage user-generated content. When users use your branded hashtags in their posts, it can help promote your brand and increase your visibility to their followers and beyond.
  • Campaign Tracking: Using campaign-specific hashtags can help you track and measure the success of your marketing campaigns. By creating a unique hashtag for a campaign or promotion, you can easily monitor and analyse the performance of your campaign and make data-driven decisions for future campaigns.
  • Content Categorisation: Hashtags can help you categorise your content and make it more easily discoverable by users interested in specific topics. This can help you organize your content, improve content navigation, and create a cohesive brand presence on social media.
  • Competitive Advantage: By using hashtags strategically, you can stay competitive and keep up with industry trends. Monitoring and using relevant hashtags can help you stay updated with what's happening in your industry, engage with your competitors' audience, and showcase your expertise in your niche.

Overall, using hashtags in your social media marketing strategy can help you increase your visibility, engagement, brand awareness, and campaign tracking. It allows you to connect with your target audience, categorise your content, and stay competitive in your industry. However, it's important to use hashtags strategically, relevantly, and in moderation to avoid hashtag spamming and ensure a positive user experience.

Disadvantages of Using Hashtags in Marketing.

While hashtags can be advantageous in social media marketing, there are also some potential disadvantages to be aware of:

  • Overuse or Irrelevance: Using too many hashtags or irrelevant hashtags in your posts can make your content appear spammy, inauthentic, or confusing to your audience. It may lead to a negative perception of your brand and result in lower engagement or even loss of followers.
  • Misinterpretation or Misuse: Hashtags are user-generated, and their meanings or usage can change over time. Your intended meaning or message behind a hashtag may be misinterpreted, or the hashtag may be misused by others in a way that doesn't align with your brand values or marketing goals.
  • Limited Reach: While hashtags can help increase the visibility of your content, they are not a guaranteed way to reach a massive audience. The competition for popular hashtags can be fierce, and your content may get buried under a sea of posts using the same hashtag, resulting in limited reach and engagement.
  • Negative or Controversial Hashtags: Hashtags can sometimes be associated with negative or controversial topics, and using such hashtags in your marketing may result in unintended consequences. It's important to research and understand the context and meaning behind hashtags to avoid potential backlash or controversy.
  • Brand Dilution: Using generic or unrelated hashtags may dilute your brand and make it harder for your content to stand out or align with your brand identity. It's important to use hashtags that are relevant to your brand, industry, or campaign to maintain consistency and authenticity.
  • Legal and Compliance Issues: Hashtags, like any other marketing tactic, must comply with applicable laws and regulations. Using hashtags that infringe on trademarks, copyrights, or other legal rights can result in legal issues and damage your brand reputation.
  • Lack of Control: Hashtags are open to anyone to use, and you may not have full control over how they are used or the conversations they generate. Your hashtags may be used by others in ways that are not aligned with your brand or marketing goals, and you may have limited control over managing or moderating those conversations.

It's important to carefully consider and plan your hashtag usage in your marketing strategy, taking into account the potential disadvantages, and ensure that they align with your brand values, marketing goals, and comply with applicable laws and regulations. Proper research, strategic use, and monitoring of hashtags can help you mitigate potential risks and leverage the advantages of hashtags in your marketing efforts.

Recap On Hashtags.

In conclusion, hashtags are an essential tool in social media marketing. By using relevant hashtags, businesses can improve their visibility, reach a broader audience, and engage with their customers. When used correctly, hashtags can help businesses establish their brand presence on social media and increase their social media following. But care must also be taken when using them to avoid brand dilution, limited reach or reputational damage.

About VCMO

VCMO helps SMEs and investor-backed portfolio companies with a £2 million or higher turnover that operate without a full-time Chief Marketing Officer. Our Fractional CMOs and tailored services transform marketing potential into a competitive advantage that delivers scalable and predictable growth, increased profits, and enhanced enterprise value.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter.

Subscribe to Marketing Edge, our regular newsletter sharing expert opinion on the latest marketing trends, curated marketing content from leading sources, early-bird event registrations, and much more.