27 February, 2013

Tips on Hashtags for Small Business

Update:  May 2017
Originally published in 2013, this is a rework of a post that was honestly a bit of a rant.   are important, it’s just that they’re often abused.  For some platforms, such as Instagram, they’re essential, but again used wisely.
In this revised edition I’m leaving in the rant at the bottom and placing the useful bits here.

Hashtags in General

Hashtags are a useful way to tie your tweets/posts in with like-minded people.  They’re a good way to lift the visibility of what you share, and grow your audience organically.

When starting out, you’re unlikely to have a large following. So piggybacking off of tags that are popular in your area is one way you can help your local community find you, know about you, and discover what you have to share.  There are likely a few hashtags as options in your local area.

For where I live, I could use #southgippsland (regional), go bigger to something like #Victoria (state), bigger still to #Australia (country), or hyper-local with something like #korumburra (city).  Each one would reach into a different size audience, and each will have its own flavour.

It’ll automatically lift the visibility of your posts – not necessarily a huge amount, but certainly some. And little increments can make a big difference over time.

It’s also a good idea to try to create a hashtag for your business.  Ideally you’re after something unique, as it helps create an online brand and identity for your business.  The importance of a brand identity cannot be understated, and is a subject for another post on another day.

Another aspect of that is consistency across platforms. So ideally (and let me stress this is the ideal) you’ll have the same URL and same hashtag across any and all social media platforms.  In a perfect world you’ll come up with something along the lines of your brand name for the custom URL for your social media, and use the same characters for your hashtag.

If you can get it, that is.

You’ll likely have to compromise on one platform or another. We’re aiming for the ideal but not going to grow any more grey hairs for not reaching the idea.

So how do you start of finding out if what you want to use is available?

Sure, you could go to Facebook, do a search by URL, then a search on hashtags. Then go to “the gram” and do the same thing. Then to Twitter and then Pinterest. By this point you’ll have gone back and forth a bajillion times and probably won’t have any hair left in your head to go grey.

But there’s an easier way – There’s a very clever website called KnowEm that lets you search 25 platforms for free. The service isn’t checking hashtags specifically, rather the custom URLs. However there is a high correlation between usernames and hashtags, so the odds are in your favour.

Basic rules for hashtags

  • one word, no spaces
  • simple & short
  • CapitaliseEachWord to make it easier to read


Enough said below. Use tools like Hashtagify to find good and related hashtags for your posts.  Just don’t go overboard with them. Please.


Hashtags are critical (note: not important but CRITICAL) on Instagram, so it’s worth spending some time researching and curating a long list for your business. You can create a Master List, and group the tags into business related, location-based and fun/cheeky ones (or whatever makes sense for your industry).

Quick posting-on-the-go hack

It’s a great idea to have your Master List of hashtags stored in a text file or notebook app on your phone, ready to copy-paste into your posts when you’re publishing on the go.

hat tiphat tip – Jacki Kearslake from DWS


While you can use hashtags I don’t normally recommend it for Facebook. Largely this is due to the massive filtering and personalisation algorithms that attempt to thin down how much content the viewer will see.

As well, there have been studies which point to a decreased reach on Facebook posts in particular if you use hashtags. Anecdotal stories from other people in the industry aligns with the research.

Rant begins…

Original title: Down with Hashtags

stupid amount of hashtagsI love Twitter, really.  It’s full of people sharing funnies, interesting articles, opinions, and of course quotes from famous people because they couldn’t think of anything else to say (or because they read somewhere that quotes are the most re-tweeted tweets.

But please, can you make your tweets about something of substance, not hashtags?

Yes, you want your post to be seen by a larger group of people.  Yes, they’re supposed to get you more retweets.  Yes, they’re supposed to get you more followers.  And yes, it’s fun to “join in on the conversation”.

The thing is…

The world doesn’t need hashtags for #EveryLittleThingYourBusinessDoesIsOrWantsToBe. We don’t need a #hashtag #for #every #word #in #your #tweet, in your attempt to get noticed.

Get noticed instead because you actually contribute something to the Twittersphere and the web.

Or put another way – (watch video). My fave is the very last hashtag.

Rant over. Thank you for listening.