A Lesson in Hashtagging: What Not to Do

Elizabeth Reyn
A Lesson in Hashtagging: What Not to Do


No, this looks ridiculous.  If it takes me between 5 to 10 seconds to interpret whether I could make sense of this, and I wrote it, it will probably take a reader twice as long.

In all seriousness, hashtagging seems like a simple concept, doesn’t it? Just put a pound sign followed by a grouping a words to indicate a discussion about a particular topic. Post something, stick in a hashtag, start conversations.

Seems simple.  But using a hashtag actually requires more than just combining words or a group of words with a pound sign. Hashtags are meant to start conversations and trends about shared interests.  However, time and again, I come across hashtags that are misused in the context of social media. Let’s explore why these hashtags are considered improper use and how we can alter them.

1) Stuffing Too Many Words Into One Hashtag

See above example. I would be extremely surprised if anyone on social media would actually want to contribute to a conversation about hashtagging being a simple concept. Trying to fit as many words as possible into one hashtag is inefficient to initiating discussion and quite frankly defeats the point of a hashtag.

So let’s spare the readers the headache and keep hashtags short and sweet.

2) Using Irrelevant Hashtags

“Beautiful sunset tonight! #9pmcurfew #Momismad #Soprettyoutside”

What does your 9pm curfew have to do with the sunset being beautiful? The first two hashtags looked like the start of something unpromising. #Soprettyoutside is probably the best of the three, and yet was dumped at the very end, leading to a train wreck of irrelevant hashtags.

Think about what you post. Make sure that hashtags are relevant to the picture on Instagram or post on Twitter.

3) Drowning Your Post in Hashtags

“Beach with friends!” #jerseyshore  #beach #friends #fun #excited #swimming #sand #sun #waves

Whoa there. Slow down with the hashtags. Having too many hashtags in one post is not only overwhelming but unnecessary. This is especially distracting to people who are following your posts. Besides wanting to leave something to the imagination for your audience, too many hashtags, while relevant, are excessive for readers.

Limit hashtags to three maximum per post. Either choose already created hashtags or create a few that warrant discussions.

4) Spacing Out Words

#No Filter

I’ve seen #nofilter used a lot, usually regarding scenic views or natural breathtaking views of nature without the adjustment of a camera. The worst offense in hashtag etiquette, especially for a hashtag as overused as #nofilter, is to break the hashtag with a space. While I’m sure people will have a lot to say about #No, a scenic view is not one of those scenarios.

Before posting a hashtag on social media, ensure it is aesthetically appropriate and made for proper responding.

5) Using Personal Hashtags

Personal hashtags only work if they are related to an event or occurrence that warrants widespread support. Blogposts about general topics related to your business that use your business name in a hashtag is ineffective in gaining widespread support.

If you’re looking for a way to market your business, consider interlinking or creating a separate paragraph about your business. Keep the personal things personal without the hashtag.