Will hashtags still be viable in 2023?

Did you know that hashtags have been around for about 20 years on social media?

Originally they were used to help filter and organise conversations on Twitter, but over the past several years, Instagram and then Facebook have adopted them to help businesses to be seen and found on search engines.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to talk about Instagram and Facebook.

What are hashtags?

Hashtags are used on social media platforms. A hashtag is a sign (#) followed by a word or phrase. The word or phrase that businesses use will depend on what kind of business they are, or what their social media posts are about. That word or phrase is seen as a category for search engines.

For example, I often use the hashtag, #smallbizmarketingtips when I post on Instagram. I’m a marketing coach and content creator helping small businesses. So, this hashtag is relevant to my business. I often post tips for small businesses to help them with their marketing. Using this hashtag does what it says on the tin – it marks that particular post into the #smallbizmarketingtips category.

Not only does it categorise my content, so that when someone searches for #smallbizmarketingtips, my posts are often included under that hashtag, it also helps individual businesses find an array of tips from lots of different marketing businesses.

In a nutshell, a hashtag helps social media users connect with other businesses over specific topics and popular content – and acts as an invitation to discuss, view and engage with all sorts of content online.

Should you use hashtags?

Yes, absolutely. Using hashtags increases your chances of being seen on social media and in search engines. For example, hashtags help Instagram know exactly what your content is about and helps IG suggest that content to people who are interested in that topic. It also helps show that content to users who are searching for specific topic too.

How do I find hashtags?

There are a few ways to do this…

  • You can simply put a search into Google. Just type in ‘hashtags for XXXX’,  (whatever business you are in). A list of hashtags will appear…usually it shows you the top 10 or more for that category.
  • You can use a hashtag generator tool. Some of these tools are free, but I haven’t found any that you don’t have to register for – and often there is a catch or hidden fee somewhere!  
  • Simply log into your Instagram account, go to the search and type in # followed by whatever you are looking for. You will then be shown the top posts that have posted under that category. It also tells you how many posts fall under that category.

Do not use hashtags that have millions and millions of posts under it – your post will just get lost. I always advise using hashtags that have under a million…and mix it up. So, use a couple that have between 700k and a million posts, a few that have between 200k – 700k, and the rest under 200k, making sure you use some that are under 50k. This gives you the best chance for your posts to be shared in that category. I actually also use hashtags that only have between 500 – 1k posts, as I know my posts will feature in that category and it gets my business out there.

How many hashtags should I use?

It really depends on what you want to achieve. On Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, but generally people tend to use between 10-20.

There is no hard and fast rule – if you use all 30 hashtags, the more chances you have to share and connect with many audiences. However, if you keep your hashtags lower, you can connect with your specific audience better.

Facebook is slightly different. A study conducted by thesmallbusinessblog.net looked at over 200,000 brand posts on Facebook.

The study found that content with one or two hashtags had 593 interactions on average, compared to 416 engagements for posts with 3-5 hashtags and 188 interactions for posts with 10+ hashtags. From this, it’s clear that Facebook posts with fewer hashtags tend to perform better.

Are hashtags still going to be popular in 2023?

That’s a BIG, FAT YES!

Including a hashtag strategy in your marketing will help you build your brand. There’s never been a better time to put relevant hashtags in your social media posts. They play an important role in connecting potential customers you’re your business.

Hashtags FAQ

If you run your own small business, you probably use social media sites to promote your products or services. We all know that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important in promoting your website and blog content, but what about HASHTAGS? Do they help?

What are hashtags?

Originally hashtags were used to help filter and organise conversations on Twitter, but they are now used on all social media platforms. A hashtag is the sign # followed by a phrase such as marketing, so would be #marketing. It’s a category that posts relating to that subject can be streamed into; anyone can use it for their content, be it a blog post, Instagram or Facebook post.

How can I use hashtags on social media?

A really easy way to get started is by using popular hashtags. One hashtag that I see regularly on Facebook and Instagram is #throwbackthursday or #tbt. This is used as a weekly theme by some Facebook groups where people and brands share posts, or experiences from the past. For example, they may post their first ever product.

There are different hashtags depending on what niche your business is in. For example if you are in the fitness business, you might use #fitnesstips #fitinspiration or #gymspiration to name a few….or if you are in marketing, you could use #marketingtips #marketingstrategy. There are thousands to choose from and research on what are the best hashtags for you to use for your business is crucial. If you go into Instagram and click on the search icon, you can type in a hashtag you think would suit your business – for me it might be #marketingtips. Then that hashtag group comes up, with hundreds of the most popular posts that have used that particular hashtag. Doing your research in this way can help you to decide which hashtags to use (if you are a small business with a small to moderate following, you don’t want to use a hashtag that has over a million posts, as your post is unlikely to be ranked under that hashtag. I try to stick to a variety, some that are under 50k – some 50k-100k – some 100k-500k and then others that are over 500k posts up to 1 million.

How many hashtags should I use?

How many you use depends on what social media platform you are posting on.

  • Twitter allows space for hashtags, but advise using no more than two.
  • Facebook advises using between three and five.
  • Instagram – you can use up to 30 hashtags, but most accounts use around the 10 mark. It’s up to you. obut it is best practice to stick to 2-3.
  • TikTok don’t really advise hashtags as they can look spammy, but if you do, no more than three to five – but they should be used with purpose.
  • LinkedIn advises a maximum of three per post.
  • Pinterest state you can use up to 20 hashtags per Pin description, but it is advisable to use no more than 10.

So what do hashtags do for my business?

Hashtags are a great way to build your brand, boost a marketing campaign or sales campaign, and launch a competition or to just keep in touch with your target audience.

Using hashtags on Instagram and Facebook can really increase awareness of your business and engagement with you and your products/services.

They are an effective way to build your brand, for example use them to launch new products/services, share your promotional material or for just generating interest in what you do.

Hashtags are also great for creating a buzz with your website, spreading news and information about new products, events that you’re involved in or just creating hype for your business.

How do I find the right hashtag words?

It really is as simple as putting a search into Google. Just type in ‘popular hashtags for XXXXX’ whatever business you’re in – fitness, food, crafts, artist, and so on… a list of hashtags will come up. If you are using them on Instagram, as soon as you type the first hashtag, you will also see a list of other similar tags which you can also use. Try and avoid really long hashtags. When writing posts using hashtags, don’t forget to put links to your website as this will encourage more traffic.

Can hashtags help me find my target audience?

Yes, they can! For the purpose of this question, I’m going to talk about Instagram.

When you’re posting for your particular niche or business, you need to find the keywords that will be specific to your business. So, a generic term like ‘photographer’ or ‘blogger’ just won’t cut the mustard. You need people to be able to find out more about you, so for example on my Instagram account, I will post #marketingincharente as I am a Marketing Consultant and I live in the Charente…you get the idea! Or if you are a café, you could specify something on your menu, #fullenglishbreakfast and maybe the town you’re in. It’s more specific.

Being specific is what will help your target audience find you.

How should I use my hashtags?

Use a mix of hashtags on your posts to give yourself the best chance of being discovered and getting ranked on that particular hashtag. Here are some examples of the kinds of hashtag categories you can use:

  • Your industry – #smallbusiness #handmadebusiness
  • What you sell – #candles #babyclothes #smallbizmarketing
  • Your specialty – #vegancandles #naturalfabrics #marketingtips
  • Who wants to buy – #homedecor #babyshower #socialmediastrategy
  • Location – #candleslondon #babyclothesuk #marketingcharente
  • Event hashtags – #mothersday
  • Daily hashtags – #manicmonday #throwbackthursday

    The reason you use all these different types of hashtags is to keep your content in view for as long as possible. The most popular will bring a brief flurry of activity, then the moderately popular hashtags will kick in and your content will stay active on those for a few hours. Then your more niche specific hashtags will be noticed.

    Of course, you will also receive activity from your followers, so you are still reaching out to your existing potential customers, as well as new ones.

    Can I set up my own hashtag?

    The simple answer is ‘yes, you can!’

    But, there is a but! You cannot legally own a hashtag. If you find one that hasn’t been used, which will take a lot of research, you can register it. However, even registering the hashtag will not stop other people from using it – it’s not like owning a website domain. Registering just means you’ve staked a claim to that hashtag and adds you to the hashtag directory, where you can go into a bit more detail as to what the hashtag is for…you can write a description.

    How do I register my hashtag? 

    Once you have found a new hashtag relevant to your business, you can register it on sites like Hashtags.org

    As soon as you have registered it, use your hashtag ALL THE TIME! Use it a lot…as much as you can! At first you will be the only one using it, but after time you will find others using it for articles, posts or blogs that talk about the same subject.

    Do hashtags help with SEO?   

    Again, the simple answer is ‘yes’. Hashtags are basically keywords, so they help you to categorise your content and help social media users to find it. Using hashtags in your social media posts will give you more opportunities to have your content in Google search results.

    Finally, just be aware that hashtag use varies greatly with each social media platform so you need to be mindful of which platform you’re on!

    Happy Hashtag Hunting! Let me know how you get on, and if you find hashtag research all a bit overwhelming, give me a shout and I can help you with your hashtag strategy.