Do Hashtags Work?

Are you using hashtags as part of your communication efforts? If not, new research shows that you may want to consider adding them to the mix. For those who are not familiar with hashtags, they are a word or phrase (on social media sites such as Twitter) preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic. They help categorize what you and other users are talking about in tweets and posts.

But do they have a positive effect on your content? A look at the data says yes. “Social media scientist” Dan Zarrella examined more than 1.2 million tweets and found that a use of a limited number one or two of hashtags can result in more retweets. In fact, Zarrella found that tweets with hashtags were 55% more likely to be retweeted than those that are not:


As well, Buddy Media examined the tweets of over 320 major brands and also found that a few hashtags in the mix will have a noticeable positive impact on engagement:

And no less of an authority than Twitter itself notes that one or two hashtags add value:

“Tweets with hashtags (the # symbol, immediately followed by the subject or keyword related to the Tweet) can increase engagement almost 100% (2x) for individuals and 50% (1.5x) for brands.”

So, hashtags work on Twitter. But what about other social media platforms? According to Tackmaven, hashtags certainly work on Instagram. In fact, their data indicates that interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11 hashtags or more. Tgis is the opposite of Twitter, where tweets do better when the number of hashtags is strictly limited.

On Facebook, hashtags are fairly new, having only been incorporated into posts less than a year ago. And according to Edgerank Checker, hashtags have no positive effect on the reach of posts that use them. In fact, posts with hashtags do worse than those that do not use them:

So, if you are looking to increase your reach on Twitter and Instagram, then hashtags are a good bet. Just remember that the use of hashtags in an advocacy campaign can be a double-edged sword, so use them with caution.