Twitter hashtagsRecently I gave a talk about Twitter to some small business owners. The hottest topic? Hashtags. A week later the same happened in an advanced Social Media course I was on. Even that tutor rolled his eyes and sighed before wading in.

Ah, the #. These four simple lines can be a blessing or a curse. Here’s my take on when to use hashtags on Twitter and some potholes to avoid.

Please note: This blog is about Twitter hashtags. How to use Instagram hashtags is a whole different ballgame.

When and how to use Twitter hashtags

1. As a catchphrase

As hashtags don’t use spaces, they are a great way to add a phrase or sentiment without using up too many precious characters in Twitter. For example #ILoveMyJob or a sly #WaitForABus.

2. To be in with the in-crowd

Want to make sure everyone knows you’re tweeting about a specific subject? Add a hashtag. This is particularly good if you’re ‘live-tweeting’ along with an event or TV programme. So for example:

Soggy bottoms ahoy! #GBBO

doesn’t make much sense unless you’re one of the thousands of people following the hashtag #GBBO. As The Great British Bake-Off is a bit of a mouthful (excuse the pun), this hashtag is used as a shortcut.

If your business has a relevant link with an event,  you can even join in. Here’s a great tweet from York Cocoa House:

Screenshot of a tweet by York Cocoa House
Screenshot of a tweet by York Cocoa House

3. To make things blindingly obvious

As Twitter isn’t psychic, it can only find tweets that include the search term you’ve entered. You can use hashtags to help reach a wider audience. For example:

<pre”>Join the team! We need a new dressmaker apprentice here in York.

is a great tweet. But it wouldn’t come up if someone was searching for the word “jobs”.

You can fix this by adding #Jobs after York. Why not just at the end? Because your ‘call to action’ – what you want your reader to do next – works best if it’s the last thing they read. In this case you want them to click the link to your website.

Mistakes to avoid

Don’t go overboard

#Is #it #easy #to #read #this? Or is it #easier to read this? Use no more than two to avoid your tweet looking cluttered and amateurish.

Mind the gap

If you do invent a hashtag, just think about how it will work without spaces. Merging words can backfire. For example:


Was used in Switzerland – which has the country code CH – to promote the Hobbit film. Oops.

For more ideas check out The Beginner’s Guide To The Hashtag. And if you’re on Pinterest How to properly use hashtags in your Pinterest marketing is definitely worth a read.

Capitalise your hashtags

Anyone who uses read out loud software to navigate the internet will appreciate some capitalisation.

Otherwise something like #ilovemyjob could be read out to them as “Il ovem y job”.

Do you even need a hashtag?

Are all the key words in the tweet already? Then you don’t need a hashtag. Here’s a completely valid tweet:

I can't wait for the next series of The Witcher to come out on Netflix.

Look at that. No #TheWitcher, no #Netflix. #sorted.

Still all at sea?

I offer one-to-one training and coaching in Twitter. Find out more in social media training workshops page. Or I can even supply pre-written social media posts.