Are Hashtags Still In?

Hashtags History

The first hashtag appeared in 1988. In America, the hashtag was referred to as a pound sign, while in British countries they referred to it as a hash. Hashtags came about because programmers needed a symbol to organize information on the internet. They would label groups and topics that were accessible across the whole network. Hashtags made it easier for individuals to find the information they were searching for.

The way we know hashtags is from Twitter. But Twitter did not always have hashtags, they were a later add on. Users on Twitter were complaining that their explore page was not relevant and not interesting to them. Chris Messina took action to resolve this issue for users. The first hashtag used on Twitter was in 2007 but took a while to become popular. In 2009 the hashtag became a part of Twitter's brand, thus the ability to search by hashtag came about. From there Twitter introduced 'Trending Topics" which gave the user the ability to see what hashtags were the most popular.

Hashtags became a big part of the internet. When Instagram was released in 2010, hashtags were a part of the platform from day one. Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr made hashtags available to users to keep content grouped and organized. In 2013, Facebook added hashtags to its platform as well.

Why do people use hashtags?

The reason why people use hashtags has changed over the last few years. From programmers to regular people, the hashtag has seen to be useful for quite a bit of reason. Hashtags make a process simpler. When searching for a hashtag, it pulls all the posts that use the hashtag in the caption. Vice versa, when a user puts a hashtag in the caption, it helps reach a certain target market.

A hashtag intrigues a user to look at other content that uses the same hashtag. This can help a brand because the user is more than likely going to spend time looking at posts that have the same hashtag. Since the hashtag has been on the internet for a while now, there is more and more content being placed in front of users. The more distinct your hashtag is the more special it is. This is because if a user makes a hashtag that not many users use, the search will only pull up posts that use the special hashtag.

What makes a hashtag good?

Hashtags can make it easy to find your company. Creating an industry hashtag is great for a business to utilize in their posts on social media. It can be simple to create your own hashtag for your company. In most cases, your company hashtag can be as easy as using a hashtag with your company name followed after.

If your company has more than one word, there are two ways you can use a hashtag. You can make a hashtag with the company name being one lowercased hashtag or the hashtag can be the company name with the begging of each word capitalized. It does not matter which way you choose to create your hashtag just as long as there are no spaces between each word. If there are spaces between each word it would require you to use more than one hashtag. But breaking it up will not make it specialized, making the hashtag, not industry-specific.

It is good to keep your hashtags consistent. Especially when creating company hashtags, you want to make it easier for users to find your tagged posts. So, sticking with a few specialized hashtags will help keep your brand consistent and relevant to your consumers. The more specific your hashtag is the greater chances you are to grow your audience. Find a hashtag that works for you and that gets your viewers, if it is not working switch it up. But give your hashtag time, it takes a while to grow your brand presence on social media.

Another great tip when utilizing hashtags is don't overuse them. When you use too many hashtags, it can make your post look cluttered and too 'salesy'. The best number of hashtags to use is three or less, this can help make your post look professional and easy to read. To make sure your hashtags are working well, keep up with the analytics. You don't want to keep using a hashtag that isn't working.

Are hashtags still useful?

Hashtags are useful for organizing social media posts, but are hashtags actually useful to users? Hashtags can make a post look messy or hard to read. They can be off-putting when used, especially if there are more than three. If a post is filled with hashtags the chances of a user engaging with that post are low. Often users find that hashtags are annoying. If a hashtag is vague it can appear to people that don't find them relevant thus not being useful. For example, if you use the hashtag #Athens, there is no differing between Georgia, Greece, of anything of the sort.

The reason why hashtags don't work

Using a vague hashtag also throws off the analytics of a hashtag, this why a big suggestion is to make your company hashtag very specific. This is also so other users don't use the hashtag and throw off your algorithm. If you search money on Instagram and click on the tab "Tags" you can see how many posts use a hashtag. For example, there are 56.8 million posts that use #money in the caption. You can now see how important it is to make sure your company or personal brand has a specific hashtag. The lower number of posts the more likely the audience will be specifically targeted.

Hashtags can become hijacked by users. If you make a company hashtag has the potential to be a great promotion and bring great engagement to your posts. Unfortunately, any user can use the hashtag and be linked to your company. A great example of this would-be United Airlines, while the company can use #UnitedAirlines to promote and add to their posts so can social media users. If you remember back in 2009, when there was a big scandal around how the United Airlines dealt with a passenger's guitar you can see how social media users can start using the hashtag for a bad representation of the company. This can hurt a company, even though they created the hashtag.

Another bad thing around hashtags is spammers. Using hashtags especially ones that are trending and have a lot of use can open up a flood gate of receiving spam. This is another reason why the hashtag has become less popular among social media users.


Even though there are some good and bad reasons to use hashtags, they have become limited for the use of the business. When they were first introduced it was revolutionary, and while they won't go away, people are starting to see the bad that comes from them. But if you want to utilize them, there needs to be a strategy and purpose to use the hashtag in the best way for your company. If you want to learn more about building your brand aside from hashtags check out our blog about branding


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