11 Proven Hashtag Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Brand

proven hashtag marketing strategies to grow your brand

Anyone can use a hashtag or two in their social media posts. But if you want to maximize their potential, you’ll need to use some proven hashtag marketing strategies.

Used correctly, hashtags can get your content in front of a wider audience, raise brand awareness, target a specific market segment, and encourage user engagement.

So, in this guide, you’ll discover how to leverage 11 proven hashtag marketing strategies to grow your brand.


What is a Hashtag?

Hashtags are a type of data used on social media to identify and categorize content.

A hashtag comprises two parts:

  • A hash symbol – # – also called an octothorpe, or the pound symbol (in the US).
  • A keyword or phrase.

Hashtags are predominantly used on Twitter and Instagram. They’re either included in the main written text or shortly after to signify the topic.

Here are a few hashtag examples on different social media platforms:

hashtag marketing strategies linkedin marketing

hashtag marketing strategies twitter marketing

hashtag marketing strategies instagram marketing

Hashtag History

Hashtags were first used on Internet Relay Chats (IRCs) before finding their way onto Twitter in 2007. Nowadays, they’re used on many social media platforms, including Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube, as well as TV advertising campaigns.


How do Hashtags Work?

Hashtags work in a similar way across social media platforms. Their primary purpose is to help users find content on a specific topic – in other words, they categorize content.

When users click on a hashtag, they’re directed to a list of posts using the same hashtag on the platform. From there, they can find, follow, and engage with other social media users based on a common theme or interest.

From a marketing perspective, if you add hashtags to your content, it increases the visibility and organic reach of your social media posts.

How to Use Hashtags

Before we go any further, here are a few quick tips on how to use (and not use) hashtags in your marketing.

  • Hashtags always start with the # symbol, but they won’t work if you use spaces, punctuation or symbols.
  • Ensure your social media accounts are public; otherwise, non-followers won’t see your content (including hashtags).
  • Avoid using hashtags #ThatAreTooLongOrComplicated, since it will be hard to read and remember them.
  • Capitalize the first letter of every word in your hashtag for readability – e.g. #SocialMediaMarketing.
  • Ensure that every hashtag you use is well-researched, specific, and relevant to your content.
  • Limit the number of hashtags you use. Too many look spammy. (See below for optimal use per platform).
  • Avoid using generic-only hashtags, as they won’t increase your brand’s visibility.
  • Track your branded hashtags to see what people are saying about your brand.
  • Track industry hashtags to keep tabs on relevant news and trends.
  • Monitor the performance of your hashtags so you can adjust accordingly.
  • Create a hashtag marketing strategy using different hashtags across all types of content.

How to use hashtags on Twitter

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 1-2
  • You can:
    • Use as many hashtags as you wish, but Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags per Tweet.
    • Include hashtags anywhere in your tweets, retweets, replies, and your bio.
    • Find hashtagged content by entering a hashtag into Twitter’s search bar.
    • Discover trending hashtags in Twitter’s trending topics.

How to use hashtags on Instagram

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 5-10
  • You can:
    • Use hashtags in or after your caption, or you can add them in the comments section.
    • Include hashtags in your Instagram Stories.
    • Add them to your profile bio.
    • Search for hashtags in the Tags tab of Instagram’s Explore section.

How to use hashtags on LinkedIn

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 1-2
  • You can:
    • Place hashtags anywhere in your posts and articles.
    • Search for hashtags in the LinkedIn search bar.
    • Get hashtag suggestions from LinkedIn when writing a post.
    • See recommended hashtags in the right-hand sidebar menu on the home page.

How to use hashtags on Facebook

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 1-2
  • You can:
    • Include hashtags in your post or comments.
    • Use hashtags to group content in private Facebook groups by theme or topic.
    • Search for a hashtag in the Facebook search bar.
    • Click on a hashtag to see more posts using the same hashtag.

How to use hashtags on Pinterest

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 2-5
  • You can:
    • Include hashtags when writing a Pin description or when Repinning, but don’t use more than 20
    • Get hashtag suggestions (in the mobile version only) when creating a new Pin.
    • Use hashtags that contain relevant keywords, so they’re searchable in Pinterest’s search engine.

How to use hashtags on YouTube

  • Optimal number of hashtags to use: 2-3
  • You can: include a few (but no more than 15) hashtags in your brand’s YouTube video title or description.
    • Click on a hyperlinked hashtag to see other videos using the same hashtag.
    • Note: If you don’t include hashtags in the title, the first three hashtags in the description will show above the video title:

hashtag marketing strategies youtube


Why Hashtags Matter to Your Brand

Hashtags can be used to get your content in front of a wider audience, raise brand awareness, target a specific audience, and take advantage of trending topics.

1. Boost the organic reach of your posts

Hashtags categorize your content, so you can attract any users searching for that hashtag (not only your regular followers) to get your content in front of a larger audience and increase your brand awareness.

2. Increase engagement

According to Twitter, tweets with hashtags increase engagement – clicks, retweets, likes, and replies – for individuals and brands:

“Tweets with hashtags can increase engagement by almost 100% (2x) for individuals and 50% (1.5x) for brands.”

3. Add context to your content

Using a hashtag is a simple way to quickly add some context to your content, especially on Twitter, where there’s limited character space.

4. Take advantage of trending topics

Trending topics occur on all the social media platforms and attract insane numbers of followers. They’re a great way to get your product, service, brand, or content in front of a massive audience.

5. Join a relevant conversation

You can monitor and join relevant discussions that are taking place on social media linked by a hashtag. If you follow themes and topics related to your brand, you can add to the conversation.

Also, on Twitter, there are designated Twitter Chats, usually held on a regular schedule. For example, the #SEMrushChat occurs every Wednesday:

You could attend a few chats related to your brand, offer to guest host an established Twitter Chat, or consider creating one yourself to increase brand awareness and build brand trust.


11 Hashtag Strategies Your Brand Can Leverage Now

Let’s take a look at how you can use hashtags in your marketing strategy.

1. Branded Hashtags

Creating a branded hashtag is probably the most important strategy to use. Branded hashtags can contain your brand name, tagline, slogan, or product/service names. For example, Nike often uses its famous tagline #JustDoIt while action camera GoPro uses its brand name #GoPro.  

hashtag marketing strategies brand hashtags gopro

Once you’ve created a branded hashtag, you can use it across all platforms and types of social media content so that it becomes an easy way for people to find out about your brand. You can also ask your followers to use it in their posts to help promote your brand.

Branded hashtags help you distinguish your posts and also offer a way of tracking untagged (those without your name) shares of your posts.

As John Espirian explains:

“As well as being a useful personal branding tool, hashtags play an extra role on LinkedIn. They help you find “untagged” shares of your content.

If you use a branded hashtag in your original post, then searches on that hashtag should reveal shares that others have made on that post.”

By using one of his branded hashtags, such as #LinkedInLearnerLounge, John can check how far his brand is reaching:

hashtag marketing strategies brand hashtags john espirian


2. Campaign Hashtags

Campaign hashtags are similar to branded hashtags as they’re unique to your brand. However, the key difference is that you only use them for the period of a specific marketing campaign.

As well as using their famous tagline #JustDoIt, Nike also creates specific campaign hashtags, such as the inspirational #YouCantStopUs campaign in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic:


3. Community Hashtags

As well as helping to build your brand, hashtags can help create a community around your brand. As your community grows, so does the reach of your brand.

Camera brand GoPro encourages owners to share action photos using its #GoPro hashtag. GoPro then shares a “photo of the day” naming the user who took the shot so that they can build a collection of user-generated content:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by GoPro (@gopro)

Another brand fond of user-generated content is Airbnb. They track all posts tagged with their hashtag #Airbnb and repost some accommodation photos on their Instagram page:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Airbnb (@airbnb)


4. Trending Hashtags

Another popular hashtag strategy is to jump on trending hashtags. (But only if it’s relevant to your brand!) Trending hashtags are typically fast-paced, short-lived, and a little unpredictable.

You need to be tracking trends as they happen, and you also need to research the hashtag before jumping in.

The downside is that your post(s) might get lost in a mass of content if a trending hashtag goes viral.

Trending on Twitter at the time of writing was #6yearsofFour, as it’d been six years since pop group One Direction released their album Four:


5. Event Hashtags

Similar to campaign hashtags, event hashtags have a start and end date. Some annual events may use the same hashtag. For example, the Masters Golf Tournament uses #themasters each year:

Other events include a year, such #Tokyo2020 for the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo (now in 2021 following the coronavirus pandemic):


6. Holiday Hashtags

Some holidays have their own hashtags, such as American Independence Day #4thofJuly.

As well as holidays, there are fixed dates for other global or national days, weeks, and months, such as:

#WorldDiabetesDay

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

#Movember

These can be good opportunities to join if they’re relevant to your brand, so make sure you plan and schedule your content around these fixed dates in your social media calendar.


7. Location Hashtags

Location hashtags are especially useful for local businesses who want to target their local audience.

For example, a New York based restaurant could use the hashtag #NewYorkRestaurant to attract customers specifically searching for restaurants in New York.

hashtag marketing strategies location hashtag new york restaurant

8. Niche Hashtags

Niche hashtags let you get ultra-specific about your brand. For example, Anthia from @thesaltybiscotti is not just a photographer, but a specialist food photographer based in Athens. So she uses the niche hashtag #foodphotograhy in her posts:

hashtag marketing strategies nich hashtag thesaltybiscotti


9. Contest, Giveaway, and Challenge Hashtags

Everyone loves a contest or a giveaway, and they’re great for boosting user engagement. A quick search on social media for #giveway usually reveals a huge number of posts, so you’ll need to add another hashtag or two to link your brand to a giveaway:

hashtag marketing strategies giveaway

Entrants typically have to follow a brand and tag a friend to enter the giveaway or contest, so it’s a way of increasing your followers and generating brand awareness:

hashtag marketing strategies contest

Another excellent hashtag marketing strategy is the social media challenge, which is especially popular on TikTok. All you have to do is start a social media challenge and use your unique hashtag to promote it.

hashtag marketing strategies challenge

For instance, to announce their arrival on TikTok, rock band Queen launched their #SingWithFreddie challenge where users had to record themselves echoing lead singer Freddie Mercury:

@tomgrennan#duet with @queenofficial Freddie will always be KING #fyp♬ Ay-Oh – Live Aid – Queen


10. Chat Hashtags

Chat hashtags are popular online discussions on Twitter. It’s a hashtag marketing strategy that gets users directly engaging with a brand.

Twitter Chats typically take place at set times. For example:

Viral Content Bee holds their #vcbuzz chats every Tuesday, 12 noon EST.

SEMrush holds their #SEMrushchat every Wednesday, 11am EST.

Twitter Chats usually take the form of questions and answers where the host asks questions, and anyone can put forward their answer.

Popular Twitter Chats give you access to a ready-made audience eagerly waiting to hear your expertise and opinion. It’s a great way to build trust in your brand. Another option is to start your own Twitter Chat with a unique hashtag as a way of promoting your brand and attracting new customers by sharing useful information.


11. Content Hashtags

Content hashtags are simply hashtags related to your content that add some context. For example, a tweet about social media may contain #digitalmarketing, or an Instagram post on food might contain #instafood.

hashtag marketing strategies content hashtag

Loomly Tip: Hashtag Suggestions recommends hashtags that are relevant to the copy of your post, as well as trending #hashtags.

General hashtag rules to keep in mind

  • Use a balanced combination of different types of hashtags.
  • Include one branded hashtag in every post.
  • Use one campaign hashtag when running a marketing campaign.

Consider using trending, holiday, event, and location hashtags to boost visibility.


Hashtag Marketing Strategies in a Nutshell

Hashtag marketing strategies can extend your brand’s reach, boost brand awareness, increase user engagement, and make your content more discoverable.

Try implementing hashtag strategies above in your social media marketing to see how effectively they work for you.