10 Rules for #Hashtag Usage

In “The Trend Behind Hashtags,” we discussed where hashtags originated and the trends that keep them popular. Now it’s time to talk a little bit about using hashtags for both personal and professional use.

1.     Keep it short and simple

There’s no reason to make your hashtag a run on sentence. Hashtags are used to track trends and create conversations. If you have something clever to say, try saying it without jumbling the words together and placing a hashtag symbol in front.

2.     Limit your hashtags to 3 or 5 only

I cannot stress this enough—there is absolutely no reason to use more than five hashtags. Doing so looks like spam. Furthermore, hashtags are used to capture the topic of what you’re posting about or the photo you’re sharing.

You should not need more than five hashtags to summarize what you’re sharing. If you do, then you’re doing it wrong.

3.     Be consistent

If you’re a company or professional blogger trending a specific topic frequently on your Twitter or Instagram accounts, be consistent in the hashtags you use. If you write about candle making, use either #candlemaking or #makingcandles—do not use both and do not interchange which you use.

4.     Have fun with it

There’s no reason to be so serious! Have some fun with your hashtags—keeping in mind rules 1-3.  One great example is the Loews Annapolis Hotel, which is using #LoewsLovesDogs for its National Dog Day event.

5.     Grammar is key

Sometimes it’s ok not to use a hashtag if it means forgoing proper grammar. Sure it’s acceptable to occasionally use “b/c” instead of “because,” or “w/” instead of “with”—but, don’t chop up your post just to cram a bunch of hashtags into your caption.

6.     Don’t overuse hashtags

So you’ve created a clever hashtag or have joined in on a trend such as #luckyme—try not to post your hashtag on every post you share. It looks like spam and frankly, is just annoying.

Perhaps you have some posts nearing your hashtag limit—remove that overused hashtag, instead of cramming it into your post. Don’t worry—it won’t be lost without you.

7.     Accompany a searchable topic

If you’re posting about your new beautiful Manolo Blahnik mary jane heels, don’t just use #gorgeous, #fancy or something else like #partytime.

Add a searchable hashtag so people know what you’re talking about. An acceptable example would be, “So excited to wear my new Manolo Blahniks at the party! #fancy #partytime #Manolos.”

The idea isn’t to use as many vague or made up hashtags as you can, but rather to create a conversation online, which others might join.

8.     Honor the golden rule of the hashtag length limit.

What an adorable picture you’ve posted of your new child or fantastic new office space. Here’s a tip: writing, #mychildisthemostadorableever is the exact same as writing, “My child is the most adorable ever.” There is one difference—the latter prevents me from rolling my eyes and wondering why you didn’t just write out your sentence like the educated person I know you to be. My response is far worse if you’re a business abusing the hashtag length limit.

9.     Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Including a new hashtag for the first time? Maybe double-check what else is associated with that hashtag of yours—especially if you’re a business.

10.  Don’t use punctuation or spaces

For all you hashtag newbies out there, spaces and punctuation marks do not translate in hashtags. The clickable link will end where you put a space or that punctuation mark.