How to Use Hashtags Properly

Use hashtags to tag your tweets and search for related tweets.

Aliza Sherman
November 5, 2009
Episode #077


Hi there, The Digital Marketer here, ready to help you put the power of the Internet and technology to work for your business.

I want to talk to you about hashtags. You know, those key words preceded by the pound or hash sign mostly found these days in tweets on Twitter. What are they, and how can we use them well?

What are Hashtags?

Where did hashtags come from? Hashtags were actually developed by the Twitter community and not by Twitter the company. Hashtags are supposed to help add context to your tweets and provide some cohesiveness between many related tweets from you or from a group of Twitterers, making it easier to tag and search Twitter content. So if you're tweeting about wine and you're a woman, you might add #womenwine to your tweet. If you're participating in the Wednesday night small business chat on Twitter, you would tag your tweet #smallbizchat so your tweet is included in the greater context of the overall chat event conversation.

Hashtags create "groupings" of tweets on Twitter but the onus is on you, the Twitterer, to add the proper hashtags. You can easily add them using Web-based tweeting tools such as TweetChat or TweetGrid, or desktop apps like TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop.

Be strategic about how you use hashtags, especially when you want to be able to track related conversations in the Twitterstream. Hashtags should not distract from the content or confuse the reader.

Hashtag Tips

I asked some of my Twitter followers for their hashtag tips:

@corvida suggested only using them when they add value and true meaning to the topics pertaining to what the hashtag represents

@GreenSmith said, “Don't use hashtags excessively #for every #other word or extraneously #cheetos! hoping for traffic from them.” -- That's pretty funny!

@fourchickens recommended keeping hashtags clear and simple and also said not to use acronyms unless the thing you're hashtagging is known by its acronym.

Keep in mind that hashtags should be short but easily recognizable and easy to remember. Hashtags can take up vital Twitter character space, reducing your tweet size to far fewer than 140 characters.

What are Popular Hashtags?

If you want to find out what the most popular hashtags are, go to Hashtags.org to see their list. Recently, the top 5 hashtags of all time were #followfriday to reference people you recommend that others should follow on Twitter; #iranelection which is self-explanatory; #tcot which stands for Top Conservatives on Twitter; #fb for Facebook; and #jobs.

For trending hashtags, take a look at What the Hashtag at wthashtag.com. Recently trending hashtags include #unseenprequels, which was being used for a Twitter game to come up with funny names for movie prequels. You can also see some hashtags in the Trending Topics on Twitter although they don't only show hashtags but also show trending keywords.

Hashtag Resources

You can also use What the Hashtag to find hashtag definitions or to define your own hashtags if someone else hasn't already submitted something. For example, create a hashtag for your company brand name and then add the hashtag and relevant information about your company or product on What the Hashtag.

Bottom Line: Hashtags can be useful when you're trying to find related tweets or tag tweets to make them easier to group together. But to be truly effective, use hashtags sparingly and strategically. Too much of a good thing isn't always a good thing.

Contact Me

That's all we have time for today.

Visit the Digital Marketer’s website at digitalmarketer.quickanddirtytips.com for links to all of the sites mentioned in the show. If you'd like to ask a question or request a topic for The Digital Marketer, e-mail me at digitalmarketer@quickanddirtytips.com or leave a message by calling 206-339-6279. You can also find me at Facebook.com/thedigitalmarketer and Twitter.com/alizasherman.

The Digital Marketer's Quick and Dirty Tips for Building Your Business With Web Tools is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips network at quickanddirtytips.com.

Tune in for another business boost from The Digital Marketer, the host who's not afraid to go under the Internet's hood & get a little dirty!


1. Hashtags defined on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashtags#Hash_tags

2. Hashtags defined on Twitter Fan Wiki - http://twitter.pbworks.com/Hashtags

3. TweetChat - http://www.tweetchat.com/

4.  TweetGrid - http://www.tweetgrid.com/

5. TweetDeck - http://www.tweetdeck.com/

6.  Seesmic Desktop - http://www.seesmic.com/

7.  Hashtags.org - http://www.hashtags.org

8. What the Hashtag – http://wthashtag.com

Twitter Birds image courtesy of Shutterstock