The Science of #Hashtags: How to Find the Right One to Rank Number One

20-Mar-2020 05:18 PM Digital Marketing

What exactly are hashtags for? 

They are everywhere. First proposed by Chris Messina as a way of identifying groups on Twitter, the hashtag has now been adopted by every other social media platform.

But now, people use them to add their afterthoughts and musings to a post, to call attention to something, or sometimes just to seem fun and quirky. This kind of usage defeats the purpose of hashtags which is to contextualize, organize and promote content.

While they started life on the digital world as an intelligent way to organize posts around a topic on Twitter, they quickly morphed into something that was routinely abused by social media users. 

As a marketer, you should be aware that hashtag abuse is a cardinal sin and is one of the reasons behind the poor performance of your posts. Even the casual user needs to know how to handle hashtags to gain more mileage per pound sign. 

Why Use #Hashtags?

You might’ve seen the trending hashtags on Twitter or Instagram or even on YouTube. As I’m writing this article, #COVID19 is trending around the world. Understandably, a global pandemic is indeed trend-worthy. But why does this matter to you?

Let’s take the example of #NationalFriedChickenDay. Nobody knows who started this or when it was started. Somehow, July 6th came to be observed as such in the USA and KFC seized on the opportunity. Not just KFC, several locally well-known brands too got to spend the day under the trending spotlight. 

If you keep your eyes closely on the breakout trending hashtags, sooner or later, you will be blessed with a chance to go viral (can we still use this word?) too.

But why wait for a trend to emerge? Why not go out and start a trending hashtag?

How to Find the Right #Hashtags?

Remember when fashion brand Kenneth Coles used the trending hashtag #Cairo to promote their spring collection. #Cairo was trending because it was the midst of the Arab Spring Revolution. 

 Never jump on to the trending wagon if it doesn’t go to your stop.

Like I said before, using hashtags is a science and people seem to take it to heart and begin experimenting. Hold your horses. It’s not so hard that it requires A/B testing and data collection. All you need is some common sense. 

As a first step, pay attention to what hashtags the influencers in your niche are using. They often have their ears to the ground and are a good representation of what your target audience craves for. This is especially useful if your account is new and you don’t have the clout to be seen as an influencer. You can use Buzzsumo(lLimited trial only) to identify the influencers and other content creators in your niche. 

Given the importance of hashtags for social media marketing, it was only a matter of time of that someone started offering a service exclusively meant to identify and use hashtags. That’s where online tools like and RiteTag come. Both are paid tools, but that’s a price you have to pay to stay ahead of the crowd.

If you’re confident in your content and your marketing abilities, then you can start your own hashtag and push it to trending. However, this can take significantly longer to take off and you shouldn’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. While on the topic of choosing hashtags, you also shouldn’t use spammy hashtags like #followme to increase your follower clout. It reeks of desperation.

Not All #Hashtags are the Same

The number of hashtags to use on a post, the type and the tone all depend on which social media platform it’s intended for.

For Twitter

One or two hashtags per tweet are more than enough. Use Twitter-specific tools like Twitonomy to find trending hashtags and create tweets around them. A lot of Ttwitter’s functionalities are built around hashtags. So using the right hashtags can get your content some traction. Conversely, you can also search for hashtags on your niche and get involved in conversations already happening. 

Using more than three hashtags yields diminishing returns.

For Facebook

Much like Twitter, FB too recommends using few, but focussed hashtags to gain traction. Too many hashtags can seem unprofessional. The bBest practise is to use only one and to place it at the end of your posts to make your post searchable. According to a Buzzsumo study, hashtags don’t really have that much power on FB as they have on Twitter.  

For LinkedIn

Hashtags take on a more serious tone on LinkedIn. Since people are here to build professional relationships, the tone and tenor of your hashtag should also reflect the same professionalism. 

Witty, quirky tags may not take off.

Avoid using them altogether on small updates and instead use them to promote your longform content. LinkedIn will suggest a few hashtags for you as you’re writing your content. Use no more than 3 highly -relevant hashtags from these options.

For Instagram

Perhaps the place where hashtags get abused the most since Instagram allows upto 30 hashtags per post and users take it as a challenge to come up with all 30. You can really smell the desperation at #9 itself. 

However, Instagram runs against the crowdn in this regard and more hashtags means more engagement. It is also acceptable here. People who spend a lot of time on Instagram tend to bring this attitude to LinkedIn and Twitter which is not recommended. 

Using the same hashtag over and over again can get you shadowbanned, i.e., your content will be shown to fewer people and you won’t even realizse this. 

#Hashtags Done Right

Here are some inspirations for your next hashtag campaign.

  1. #DoUsAFlavour from Lay’s to promote their new flavour ideas campaign.


  1. #ShareACoke by Coca-Cola

The greatest hashtag campaign of 2017 worked because of the personal touch it offered. The Coca-Cola bottles came with labels that said #ShareACoke with Ashlee, for example. This prompted tons of user generated content from people named Ashlee or from people who knew an Ashlee and wanted to show it off to them. One word — Genius.

  1. #WeAccept by AirBnB

A simple hashtag from AirBnB to prompte inclusivity among its global tribe of users, the campaign quickly went viral.

The campaign doubled up as a political tool to call out racism and promote acceptance of diverse cultures.

#Hashtags are clever, useful tools when used correctly. They help users find your content in a crowded social media landscape and keep the discussion topical.

But it can be tough to get it right in the first go. If you need help with your marketing strategy, reach out to us, the #DigitalMarketing experts.