What does hashtag mean? The term “hashtag” is EVERYWHERE. Your kids use them. People use them in everyday conversation.

Definition: a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet). Source: Merriam-Webster.

As you can see from the video below, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake literally made a skit about the consequences of their popularity.

But most importantly, hashtags are being used by business owners and professionals around the globe. If you’re a business owner and wondering, “What does hashtag mean?” – don’t feel bad.

We’ve got some ideas to keep you updated on the lingo and give you the tools you need to use hashtags effectively for your business!

>> Before going any further: click here if you want to know more about hashtags for personal use to jump past the Business Quick Tips section

Business Quick Tips for Hashtags

As you will read, hashtags provide Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter users a way to quickly curate the content they’re looking for. As a business owner growing your field of potential customers through social media, hashtags can be a powerful tool.

The way they are used and their efficacy changes quickly. Here are some tactics we use at the time of this writing (updated January, 2020):

Which hashtags to use:

Use hashtags that are frequently used, but not overused. We typically go for Instagram hashtags with fewer than 2 million and more than 5,000 uses.

How Many Hashtags to Tag in a Post

  • Instagram Feed: No more than 30
  • LinkedIn: 5-10
  • Twitter: 2-3
  • Facebook Feed: 4-10

How to know how popular a hashtag is:

As you type a hashtag into a post, Instagram will auto-populate a drop-down list of hashtag suggestions, along with the number of posts with that hashtag. There are tools to analyze the popularity of hashtags. The most popular post scheduling software options also often provide hashtag insights.

What Does Hashtag Mean?

Before we get into how they help your business, let’s further define hashtag.

Hashtags are, simply put, words used on social posts that are prefaced with the pound sign (#). The use of that pound sign turns any term following it into a searchable link.

Hashtags are, simply put, words used on social posts that are prefaced with the pound sign (#). The use of that pound sign turns any term following it into a searchable link. Click To Tweet

Hashtags are used to both help people follow topics and categorize content on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms. When you use them on your social media accounts, you help people who are interested in similar topics find your posts and your business.

Hashtags allow individuals and also other brands to engage with you and your business. They can give people useful context for recollection, group posts and images together, and update a group of like-minded individuals on certain topics in real time.

They are also a great way to unite people on more specific things like:

  • Disasters or emergencies
  • Holidays or seasonal celebrations
  • Events or conference
  • Popular culture topics
  • Newsworthy events

>> See What all the Fuss is About: Top Trending Hashtags to Use to Get More “Likes” (and See Posts Everyone Else is Looking For)

Hashtags help your business become discoverable in ways you might never have thought of.

Why are Instagram Hashtags important?

Though Twitter may have made hashtags popular, we think you should turn your business focus to Instagram hashtags. Instagram has a much more user-friendly interface, and because it is picture oriented, it makes searching for content much easier for your customers (and future customers).

Instagram also has a LOT more users than Twitter. Business Insider reported that in the last two years, Twitter has only gained around 31 million active users, while Instagram reports having added 300+ million active monthly users. That is a lot of growth, and on the business side of things, opens up a ton of opportunities for more engagement.

Let’s talk about the benefits of using hashtags:

  • Hashtags are becoming a widely used search tool
  • Hashtags quickly show people a stream of content without having to sort through articles or Tweets (they pick an image based on what they are looking for)
  • You reach a wider range of audiences than just your friends or followers
  • If someone uses any search engine to research a specific hashtag, your post or profile becomes discoverable in a way it wasn’t before
  • Instagram and Twitter don’t charge you to use hashtags!

Another reason Instagram is such an awesome tool is that when you search for a specific tag, you see not only the most popular photos associated with that tag, you also see the most recent.

Another reason Instagram is such an awesome tool is that when you search for a specific tag, you see the most popular photos associated with that tag and the most recent. Click To Tweet

It’s usually a good idea to check on both of these to see that the images that correlate with your keywords are appropriate and relevant!

OMH Digital Marketing Top Posts Example

What Does Hashtag Mean? Do’s & Don’ts

DO Use Hashtags Like Keywords

If you’re using hashtags to help your business, it’s best to hashtag the keywords that are related to your business and industry. So if you’re still stuck on the question “what does hashtag mean,” think of them more like keywords to help direct people to your content. A good example for us at OMH would be #socialmediamarketing. We use this hashtag all the time because we want to appeal to people who are looking for tips on their social media.

>> See What all the Fuss is About: Top Trending Hashtags to Use to Get More “Likes” (and See Posts Everyone Else is Looking For)

OMH Agency Social Media Marketing Hashtag

DON’T Use Spaces or Special Characters Inside Your Hashtag

Using spaces will nullify your intended hashtag phrase. For example, if you are trying to post using the phrase “digital marketing” as your hashtag, you need to post it as #digitalmarketing. If you try to add a space, you will only link #digital and “marketing” will not link. Does that make sense?

DO Research Your Hashtags

Using the wrong hashtags could in fact make your business less credible. Or if you are using overused hashtags or hashtags that are out of date, you might not be appealing to your target audience. Using the right Instagram hashtags could grow your business quickly.

Using the right Instagram hashtags could grow your business quickly Click To Tweet

DON’T Use Hashtags As Spam

To answer the question “what does hashtag mean,” we have to touch on this the subject of spam. We doubt you’re interested in cheating the system or using black hat systems to gain followers, we just thought we would remind you that your goal on Instagram should be to gain quality followers. You should try to create a real loyal community of people who are actually interested in what you’re posting, like happy customers and future clients. These types of people will engage more on social media, and ultimately have a higher chance of contributing to your business.

If your hashtag usage becomes spammy or you start to abuse hashtags (posting inappropriate images with certain popular hashtags or keywords that aren’t relevant or related), Instagram could penalize you. You don’t want that!