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Why Do We #Hashtag?

When did the hashtag become such a big phenomenon and most importantly, why do we do it? The popular use of hashtags has earned them a seat in the Oxford Dictionary.

“Whoop whoop!”

Hashtags are used to categorize social media posts seen on almost every social media outlet today. Hashtags first took notice on Twitter in 2007 (Adweek) for highlighting keywords within discussions in 140 characters or less. Now, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine have caught on to the hashtag frenzy!

Some of today’s trending hashtags consist of #ThrowbackThursday, #TransformationTuesday, and #FlashbackFriday. Do you notice a theme here? People like to reminisce about old times. The feeling of nostalgia keeps these hashtags alive resulting in positive engagement on these specific posts. Now, there are countless hashtags created every day for other themes other than throwbacks.

Currently with my full time job at Mount Saint Joseph High School (MSJ) we utilize #ThrowBackThursday almost every week, but our most trending original hashtag is #GaelNation. A “Gael” is the school’s mascot. MSJ is well known for their Athletics Program. Recently the Varsity Basketball team made top rankings which have given #GaelNation numerous impressions throughout the season. From February 14th-23rd alone, #GaelNation generated 113,490 impressions! MSJ impression stats were found using KEYHOLE.

2015 was an impressive year for Mount Saint Joseph’s main Twitter account @MSJGaels which generated 845,800 impressions. I will dive into social media engagement and analytics for another blog post. For now, these impressions resulted from using known and branded hashtags for @MSJGaels. This account engages heavily with our followers and Retweeting other sub Twitter accounts and MSJ community members.

What The Trend.Social media campaigns utilize hashtags specifically to brand the campaign with intentions of generating a trending hashtag. If your hashtag is trending, you’ve made it! With the right strategy, content, and messaging a campaign can go viral. The key is using a creative hashtag with the right campaign message. If you’re not in campaign mode yet, then search for trending hashtags to use with your social media posts. These hashtags can be relevant to your business or professional career by helping with publicity or traction. By using trending hashtags will help to improve your social media engagement overall. Find the top trending hashtags in the past 30 days on Hashtagify for ideas.

So when should we use a hashtag? Just because you are making a social media post, doesn’t mean it requires a hashtag. Hootsuite, a social media management tool simply says:

“Hashtags serve to make your content discoverable to a wide audience. The truth is, not everything you produce is going to fit into that category. If your Tweet, post or comment isn’t adding any substance to the wider conversation, you might want to consider leaving the hashtag off.

…Using hashtags will allow you to make an impression on a wide social media audience. Make sure you’re sharing the best content, and making the right impression”

Making your content discoverable is the main purpose of a hashtag. Have you ever clicked on a hashtag on Instagram to see all relevant posts? This is the same idea across all social media platforms when hashtagging. Clicking on a particular hashtag will show you all posts related to that topic. Cool right?

Hashtags also come with a rulebook. Here are a couple do’s and don’ts:

  • Make them short and sweet- no one want’s to add a long hashtag they have to auto-correct five times.

  • Don’t hashtag every word. Use three hashtags at most after the copy or within the copy. Use them when necessary, if necessary.

  • Try to be unique. Brand your campaigns using a hashtag that no one currently uses so that other jargon showing up in your campaign.

  • Basically, “you should be using hashtags.” For more do’s and don’ts check out this hashtag rulebook by Buffer.

Have more hashtag questions? Email me at Let’s talk hashtag!


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