United Church of Christ

Helpful Hints about Hashtags

Sorry for all of the alliteration in the email title, but Fridays put me in such a merry mood.


Okay, I’m done. Let’s go to work, folks. It’s time to talk about hashtags.

For Beginners:

You’ve seen them everywhere, but you can’t quite figure out why everyone uses the number sign in their social media posts. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

This mysterious symbol from the ancient origin of early Twitter is known as a “hashtag,” or what happens when you use the pound/number sign in front of a word on many social media websites.

A hashtag is nothing more than a keyword search. The words written immediately to the right of the hashtag will take you to a direct search of that phrase on a social media website.  

Here are some basic tips about using hashtags.

  1. A hashtag links to the words directly connected to the pound sign. Once you make a space, the characters used after that space are no longer in your hashtag search. (#ChurchCulture searches the hashtag “churchculture.” #Church culture searches the hashtag #church with posts that also use the word culture.)

  2. You cannot “register” a hashtag. If you create a hashtag, it’s still free reign if another person or group decides to use that hashtag at any time.

  3. Hashtags are usually not long, especially for Twitter, which limits each post to 140 characters. If a hashtag is too long, people won’t use it. At least not accurately.

  4. Different social media websites give you options about how you can view hashtag searches. These options usually include most recent posts, most popular posts, and people whose account bios mention the hashtag.

  5. Facebook hashtags eventually become dead links whereas Twitter hashtags don’t. In other words, if I searched a hashtag on Twitter, every post that ever used that hashtag would be available. On Facebook, this is not the case. 

For Experts:

You’ve been using hashtags for ages, but you can’t quite figure out if you’re using them effectively. Here are some tips to keep in mind next time you think about using hashtags.

  1. Avoid using hashtags on Facebook. Studies show hashtags in a Facebook post actually decrease the popularity of the post. Facebook does a lot of things well. Hashtags aren’t one of them.

  2. Don’t use more than two hashtags per post on Twitter. Statistics show using 3 or more hashtags acutally lessens your chances of getting good engagement.

  3. Use relevant hashtags. Using hashtags just because you can usually makes people less likely to trust your content. They think you just want to draw followers and won’t give them good information. You can use some of the resources mentioned in the “5 Helpful Links” this week to determine how to find the hashtags your social media followers are most likely to use.

  4. If you’re using Instagram, use as many hashtags as you want! Instagram users don’t typically change their perception of the post based on the number of hashtags. People focus on picture content more than word content, so you can get away with using more hashtags.

  5. If you’re having a special church event, determine one hashtag early in your planning process and stick to that hashtag. Make sure it’s a hashtag that isn’t widely used by others. This could interfere with you responding to people interacting with the hashtag.

5 Helpful Links

  1. What’s the Deal with Hashtags on Facebook?
  2. #SocialMedia Marketing: How To Use Hashtags On Facebook, Twitter And Instagram - #infographic
  3. Should You Use Hashtags on Twitter or Are They a Click Killer?
  4. 5 Twitter Hashtag Tracking and Analytics tools
  5. 5 Must-Dos When Using Popular Instagram Hashtags