This week in #bufferchat, we were joined by social media expert Christin Kardos to chat about social media hashtags! We discussed how hashtags impact our use of social media, strategies for creating them, our favorite hashtags of all time, and much more.

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

For our community in Asia and Australia (or anyone in other timezones that like this time the best!): 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time, UTC+11)

For our community in North/South America, Europe and Africa (or others!): 9 am PT (California time)

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Q1: Do you feel like hashtags are an important part of social media? Why or why not?

From Christin:

  • Hashtags are definitely key on social media, particularly in “public” areas such as Twitter, open Instagram accts, etc.
  • Interestingly, we can sometimes communicate as much with one hashtag as we could with an entire sentence. Helpful, right?
  • We see hashtags everywhere these days – even offline. That’s a big indicator of their place in the world (and social) today.

From the community:

  • “One of the things that helped me get hooked on Twitter. Hashtags are like mini-communities with direct info on the subject.” @christensen143
  • “Linguistically and rhetorically, hashtags have changed the way we interact each other online and IRL.” @sola_eclipses
  • “Collecting insight on topics and uniting voices is what social media is all about! #hashtags make this process smarter.” @AnnDiab
  • “Hashtags are triggers for engagement and the glue that keeps conversations and communities together.” @rachelloumiller
  • “When it comes to true conversations on Twitter (particularly amongst strangers), hashtags rule. On G+ it’s great for search.” @jgombita

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: How might hashtags be used differently on various social media platforms?

From Christin:

  • Honestly, I think there are more similarities than differences in how hashtags are used on different platforms. But….
  • Hashtags are certainly more critical to discovery on Twitter & IG than, say, Facebook. They’re used more frequently, too.
  • Consider LinkedIn & SnapChat – hashtags crop up in these but aren’t really useful as they are elsewhere, right?

From the community:

  • “I treat hashtags more as a source of community on IG, a means of index in Twitter, and FB more of a commentary.” @calgarydreamer
  • “But hashtags aren’t universal. Facebook and LinkedIn aren’t on board with the structure as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest are.” @Troy_Sandidge
  • “The real motto of #hashtag is getting info around a tailored keyword – almost same usage everywhere.” @varun842
  • “On Twitter hashtags guide a conversation, track communities. On Instagram hashtags helps you find great content!” @GoGallivanting
  • “IG Hashtags can be more general – but please don’t scattergun them ;). Twitter: must do research and target hashtags better.” @MSLJim

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What are some strategies for creating great hashtags for a brand, event, etc?

From Christin:

  • The best hashtags are simple, short and contextually helpful. Use the least amount of characters to communicate the idea.
  • Keep tags short but make sure not to lose context. Acronyms & abbreviations can work as long as they’re easily understood.
  • Research existing hashtags & make sure that yours isn’t too similar to others or already in use for something else.

From the community:

  • “‘What’s the first 3 words that come to mind when thinking of the event?’ That’s usually where your ideal HT lies.” @lizadixon
  • “SSS – short, sweet, specific. You don’t want people to struggle w/ characters or understanding.” @msinterrobang
  • “Do your homework. Research what has been used before and for what. Make sure it can’t be read incorrectly! Have fun with it.” @LydiaNicoll
  • “Don’t create a hashtag just because it’s cool, do it with a purpose and make it something ongoing, not 1 hit wonder.” @nick_leffler
  • “Good hashtags = short & descriptive. Make sure when the words are smushed together they don’t spell something else…” @aperfectsturm2

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: How can you grow the usage of a particular hashtag?

From Christin:

  • Tell your friends & connections about your hashtag + your goals with it. They can help you gauge interest, get traction.
  • Don’t hashjack (use out of context) but use your tag w/ others that are relevant when you tweet/post. Exposure!
  • Example: Your tag is a small biz event. Share something good that’s smallbiz related & tag it w/ #SmallBiz #YourTag.
  • Good engagement goes a long way. If you’re interested in others, they’ll reciprocate. Voila – they see your tag(s)!

From the community:

  • “Encourage discussion, ask questions and share follower created content! Long story short create and nurture community!” @Berngaming
  • “Use it in a clever way – show others how easy it is to use in context!” @JoelRRenner
  • “Consistency is a biggie. Working WITH your community will help your hashtag expand. Make them part of the process.” @broganmicallef
  • “Fun usage! use it for a contest, fun engagement, etc. People always want something out of it, so give them something!” @laura_bauman
  • “By strategically using the hashtag and including it in other conversations like email, event signage, etc.” @M2Franz

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: What tools are handy for collecting data/statistics about hashtags?

From Christin:

  • I *really* want to see your answers on this. I use a few tools more for listening than analysis…
  • I like , & @SpiderQube a LOT. Kudos to all of them. But I do use more for listening than measuring…
  • My friend, says is pretty amazing… I haven’t tried. Have you?

From the community:

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: What are great ways to discover popular hashtags?

From Christin:

  • One easy way to find popular hashtags is to watch popular people. What are they talking about? What topics are on the rise?
  • Twitter trends are a goldmine. Look at what’s trending, what’s being discussed w/ those hashtags. You can broaden/narrow.
  • A lot of social listening tools will allow you to see what’s popular. Methods vary by tool, but is great.

From the community:

  • “We find , & great for finding trending topics.” @M2Bespoke
  • “I use Instagram’s search feature to find related & popular hashtags similar to the ones I use a lot.” @meshymind
  • “I let hashtags find me. I curate who I follow pretty tightly and trust my network to bring me what I need to know.” @MattLaCasse
  • “Also check out popular hashtags that trend weekly, like #MondayMotivation and #FridayFeeling!” @TheMikeyDunn
  • “Listening to influencers – thought leaders & conversation starters in your field – is a great avenue for #hashtagspying.” @reallykristi

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: Throughout your time on social media, what has been your favorite hashtag, and why?

From Christin:

From the community:

See all the great answers to question 7 here!

Thank you so much to Christin for sharing her awesome insights and to everyone who participated in this awesome chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am PST, 12 pm EST, 5 pm GMT **OR** at 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time, UTC+11). Join our new Slack community with over 1,000 members to continue these awesome conversations all week long!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!