What In the World is a Hashtag?

From Zero To Hashtag Hero

Do you know what a hashtag is?

Do you know where hashtags came from?

Or how about most importantly, how can you use hashtags to promote your business?

Get ready to find out and launch a great holiday hashtag campaign!


The hashtag (or pound sign) has been around for quite a while, but as a widespread tool in social media it’s relatively new. First off, the purpose of a hashtag is to either catergorize or give context to a post/idea. But that concept wasn’t started until 2007 when a designer, Chris Messina, proposed the concept of using hashtags that way. Since then they’ve taken off and even Facebook started to officially implement the hashtag in their posting system.

The key takeaway here is that you’re not behind the times. Hashtags are new and that’s why you don’t understand them, because everybody is just starting to understand them. Including the marketing world.

#HashtagDos and #HashtagDonts

The first thing you should know about creating a hashtag is that not all characters are supported. That means no spaces, no punctuation marks, and no special symbols.

Other than that, you can format a hashtag however you want. There some best practices, but there’s no MLA format you need to be deathly afraid of. My advice is:

Keep It Simple. Keep It Short. #KISSKISS

There are some long hashtags out there in the world (I’m talking to you #iwritemysentencesinhashtagsocuzimcool), but almost none of them are very popular or even useful. Remember, we said that a hashtag’s purpose is to either categorize or give context too a post/idea.

If your audience has a hard time reading your hashtag or doesn’t know what it means, then you probably did it wrong.

Also something to note is that the way you format your hashtag also depends on your brand, the type of post you’re making, and the words you’re using for you hashtag.

My general hashtag looks like this: #FirstSecondThird It’s easy to read and you get the point.


For now I have two things to say about this:

1 As with all societies and communities there’s some unspoken etiquette. So #you can #totally hashtag #every other #word, but no one is going to like you for it. And you’re probably going to drive your audience away because they’re going to feel spammed.

There’s a ton of statistics, there’s a ton of articles, but there’s no magic number for how many hashtags you should use. BUT try to avoid using a ton. If you stay in the range of 1-11 you’re good and err towards the lower and of that range you’re good to go!


Like I said earlier, Twitter and Facebook use hashtags, as well as most other platforms. That means: Blogger, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, etc. Basically anything you use now supports the hashtag system. So use at will!

I hope this helps you in your social media journey. Untill next time, #happyhashtagging!

– Matt