Hashtags vs Tagging

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Lately I have had a few people tell me they were confused about hashtags and tagging someone so I decided to write a quick post to refer people to.

to tag or hashtag? That is the question.


hashtagHashtags (#) are used to categorize content so that when someone searches by that hashtag it pulls up every post on that social media that someone has added the hashtag for. There are two reasons to use hashtags on social media:

1 – The first one I call a branding hashtag like #FallonTonight. If you type that into the search field on Twitter you can see all the tweets with that hashtag. If I were tweeting about something I saw on his show that I thought was hilarious, I could add #FallonTonight and it would show up in that search. While still used for a topic, the topic is a certain brand.

2 – The second one is more purely for categorization. For example, a lot of interior designers add #interiordesign to their posts to add it to the stream of other posts on that topic.

Hashtags are popular and recommended to widen your audience reach on both Instagram and Twitter. On Instagram, if you type, for example, #interiordesign into the search field, you immediately see it, along with other variations and how many posts are currently using it. And when you click enter, you can actually follow the hashtag just like you can follow a person on Instagram. There are lots of strategies on how and when to use hashtags and if you are serious about your hashtag strategy, you can always subscribe to Hashtagify.me for about $20/month.

While some people add hashtags to their Facebook and LinkedIn posts, it hasn’t really gained popularity like Instagram and Twitter. I use it on Facebook and LinkedIn when referring to a partner or influencer that has a branded hashtag. I read recently that the use of more than 1-2 hashtags actually reduces your audience reach on Facebook – so be careful when cross posting from Instagram.

Hootsuite has a great article on How to Use Hashtags.

Tagging Someone

tagged tweet sample

In the product tweet seen here, simply tagging two B2B partners (influencers) who retweeted this post bumped the impressions and engagement up above other posts.

When you tag someone you use the @symbol. This is basically a shout out to the person you are tagging to either start a conversation or promote them in a post.

I use tagging as often as possible (never more than 2 in one post) on all Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Sticking with the same example, @FallonTonight is the official Twitter and Instagram name for The Tonight Show. If I want to link to their account or give them a shout out or endorsement I use their @name and they will likely get a notification. Then they can either like, comment or share your post. It is a great B2B marketing tip that both sides benefit from.

In a similar way, you can tag someone in a photo but that is a different topic for a different day.

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