Hashtag Wins and #Fails

Hashtag Wins and #Fails

Hashtag Wins and #Fails

Recently, someone asked about hashtag etiquette. How do you use hashtags, and if you’re using them to do a search on Twitter, how do you know they’re legit? What’s the difference between a search done with a hashtag or without a hashtag? Would you use hashtags differently on Facebook than on Twitter?

What Is a Hashtag?

If you haven’t used a hashtag before, simply add a pound sign (#) before a word. On some platforms, that word now becomes searchable. It’s a great way to organize an idea. For example, #SanFrancisco, like so, is now a searchable term. You can click on it and you’ll see other tweets and posts (depending upon which platform you’re using). If you’re new (or even if you’re not), Mashable has an excellent Beginner’s Guide to Hashtags ~ recommended reading. That said, a hashtag can make a search easier.

Hashtags on Facebook

Let me say that I’m not a huge fan of hashtags on Facebook. Most people seem to overuse them and just annoy everyone. When Facebook allowed users to employ hashtags in June of 2013, they opened up a Pandora’s Box, in my opinion. People go crazy with them and they don’t mean anything. Most of the social media managers I know don’t use them and find them annoying in the forums where I’ve heard discussions. If you overuse hashtags on Facebook, you even run the risk of being hidden. And the last thing you want to do is be unfriended on Facebook.

Hashtags on Twitter

Hashtags on Twitter are a whole other ball of wax. Hashtags originated on Twitter, so they make sense on Twitter. You can use them to organize a search, to make a sarcastic remark, and more. Personally, I use Twitter for the occasional joking remark, and using hashtags in this way sometimes separates the newbies from more advanced tweeters. This use of hashtags is more for entertainment or to set the tone of a tweet.

Hashtags are useful in organizing Tweetchats, which are discussions about a certain topic, usually about an hour long, held on Twitter. For instance, #KidneyChats is on Mondays evenings and #POCChat on Monday mornings, are a couple I recommend. Used in this way, a hashtag lets you see what the other participants in a chat are discussing. And by the way, if you click on the embedded tweet, above, you can see some of the top tweets about #KidneyChat.

As a brand, a hashtag can be quite useful to add authority. Many brands have their own hashtags. They may also start a tweetchat using a hashtag to get people talking about a specific topic.

And in case you didn’t know, hashtags weren’t always a part of the Twitter lexicon. The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article on how hashtags came to be.

Other Supported Platforms

Hashtags are used on Pinterest as a way of searching, just as they are on Twitter. On Instagram, certain hashtags are used specifically to describe photos. Google+ lets you search from Google to Facebook or Twitter using a hashtag, too.

How Do You Use Hashtags?

Do you like them? Find them irritating? Think they’re too nerdy? Let me know in the comments! Thanks!


  1. Hi Carol

    Hope all is well ! Another great article and timely for me . I like hashtags on instagram , but cannot grasp them on facebook.

    • Hi Natalie,
      Glad it’s timely for you. Do you use one hashtag in particular? Like #ThrowbackThursday? Some people like that one on Instagram.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Hi Carol

        I just started my facebook business page , so right now I am using #fashbackfriday #embroidery #lace #stitches … , I will implement #thinktanktuesdays #workshopwednesdays #timlessstylethursdays. I like throwback Thursday only on instagram. on facebook I am trying to show another facet of the brand so creating more personal tags. Yikes!

        • I say yikes , since most of the comments here seem to be against hashtags on facebook. Do you consider them useless ,that they do nothing ? Imo With hash tags you are giving people the chance to describe how they feel or would categorize ( your giving the public a lot of input ) … this is where pandoras box opened. I really did not understand hashtags until recently with instagram . It is amazing to go through the #art,. at first I was taken aback ., but then I thought who am I to judge how someone interprets art and possibly this could be one of my clients ? Hashtags = interpretation , and in some ways is a mutation that will forever change how we market to our base.

        • Hi Natalie,
          Most of my social media manager friends find hashtags on Facebook to be annoying, at best. You might want to ask a couple of your clients whether they find them useful. On Instagram, people use them and they do come in handy to organize photos. And on Twitter, where hashtags originated, people really “get” how to use them. But for some reason they don’t seem really useful (yet) on Facebook. If you get traction with them, however, I’d be happy to be convinced otherwise. :-)
          Thanks for commenting.
          I appreciate it!

  2. I use hashtags sometimes, especially if I’m talking about something specific like the iPad Air or joining in with HootSuite on a #marketingchat. There’s a time and place and usually only on Twitter. Instagram can get a tag or two every once in a while also though.

    • Hi Eric,

      People seem to “get” hashtags on Twitter, but on Facebook? Not so much, unfortunately. Like you say, they are great on tweetchats, too. And they’re popular on Instagram, too.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Agreed!

  4. Thanks, Carol. #I #hate #when #people #misuse #hashtags!

  5. Agreed and I can’t stand hashtags on FB either :)

  6. Jackie Bailey says

    As a business owner, do I need to purchase my business hashtag, or just start using it? I have been using a hashtag for my blog, and some pictures/posts on Twitter. How do you know when it’s helping your influence on social media?
    My hashtags are #runjackierun, #navigatingyourfishbowl, and #emeraldcityconsulting

    Thanks for this article.

    • Hi Jackie,

      First, I have to ask what the purpose of the hashtags is. Do you think people are going to search for those hashtags? Are you running a tweetchat where participants are expected to use those? Is there some other reason?

      I use hashtags when I think it will assist others to find me, or to organize tweets, such as in a tweetchat. For instance, #SanFrancisco or #Marketing or #BigDataChat are useful to me as ways for people to find my content or to organize tweets to create a blog post later. A big brand, such as the San Francisco Giants uses them to organize tweets (last night was #OrangeFriday, for instance). A well-placed hashtag can trend on Twitter, which means a lot of traffic. And the Giants can drive engagement by asking fans to use the hashtag to be seen on the big screen at games or to win a prize.

      I would first do a search on the hashtags to see if anyone is using them. You can register them on Twubs if you want, but that does not guarantee that no one else can use them, since hashtags aren’t protected. But I would ask a few people who they think of them, and whether they would use them.

      Thanks for the questions! I appreciate your stopping by.

      Carol Stephen

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