Hashtag overkill: too many = little impact

Stop Hashtag Abuse!

The number sign (a.k.a the pound sign) has recently been recognized for something far greater than its original purpose. Since 2007 the number sign has been wearing the nametag “Hashtag” which was made popular by Twitter. Within the past few years other social media platforms have caught on and there has been very little regulation on usage. Some of the platforms that hashtags exist on are Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google+.

Hashtag Overkill

When used in front of a word, a hashtag categorizes the post. Essentially, it creates a hyperlink for that word. The best and worst part about this is that you can do this to any one word or words grouped together. Cool, right? This is a handy tool for collecting photos at events, joining hot conversations and, of course, marketing. People of all ages have caught on to using hashtags but there’s an abundance of people out there who are committing a social media crime: OVER HASHTAGGING.

Over-hashtagging means you use too many hashtags in any single post. The common practice is that you use 2-3 short hashtags or 1 long hashtag in a tweet and everywhere else you should use no more than 3. This is just my opinion and a strong suggestion. On Instagram, if you want to use a copious amount of hashtags try to post them a few lines below your copy (we touch on this a bit later in the post).

Why is over-hashtagging bad?

  • It distracts from the post/key message
  • Too many hashtags can make your post look like spam
  • It looks sloppy
  • Uses up a lot of your characters (when you have a very precious character limit)
  • Makes you look like an amateur social media poster (like you just don’t understand the concept)

So, with Twitter you only have 140 characters so you want to be strategic when using hashtags. If you are planning on posting multiple times a day try alternating which hashtags you use in each tweet. You can use hashtags on Facebook but many on that platform don’t use them. On Instagram, it is appropriate to over hashtag but only if you do it properly. A lot of posts on Instagram go viral with the appropriate hashtags. A lot of people use many (upwards of ten) hashtags with their post but they do it strategically. What some Instagrammers do is either put their hashtag collection a few spaces below their post copy OR they add their hashtags in a separate comment.

As soon as a follower sees too many hashtags, they lose interest. You don’t want people to get lost in a sea of words with number signs (which most often don’t form a coherent sentence) so be smart about your hashtagging. If you are worried that you may be quickly approaching a situation where it’s hashtag overkill, it’s fine to not use any at all. Remember to feel free to #getcreative and explore the wonderful #worldofhashtags.

Tips on Avoiding #Facebook #Hashtag #Douchbaggery

1. Don’t Use Hashtags in Every Post

The whole point of hashtags has always been to tag posts — so they can be grouped together around a certain subject or event — and searched.

So just because you can add hashtags to your Facebook posts doesn’t mean you should. I’m already seeing businesses use hashtags in every post — this is a bad idea. Instead I’d recommend only adding a hashtag to maybe 20% of your posts.

Why 20%?

Well, 20% just seems like a good number to me — ie. I’m giving you my own personal opinion & trying to keep you from looking like a douche!

Remember: the 2 cardinal rules of Facebook posts are (1) mix it up, and (2) less is more. For example, you can post photos, questions or fill-in-the-blanks on every post — but doing so will turn off your fans. Guess what? Using hashtags on every post will too. So mix it up! — and use this rule of thumb: Only use a hashtag when there’s a chance (and benefit!) for another person to use the same one.

2. Don’t Hashtag Senseless Words

Here is an example:


Do you really think the search results for #huzzah are going to produce anything of value?

First of all, no one is searching the hashtag #Huzzah — and second of all, if they are, they’re definitely not looking for your business. Using hashtags for nonsense like this does your business no good — whether you think you’re being funny or not.

C’mon, people! It’s just a nonsense word.

3. Don’t Use Too Many Hashtags in One Post

My advice: if you’re going to use a hashtag, use only ONE. Using more than this is a distraction, as you can see in the post below:


This is just obnoxious & overkill. Remember: Less is More!

Using 6 hashtags in a single post overpowers the content of the post — and distracts the very people you’re supposed to be engaging.

So please don’t do it.


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