If you’re old enough, you may know the common hashtag symbol by its other names. In its rotary phone days, the symbol of four intersecting lines was called a pound sign or a number sign. Before that — yes, there was a time before the rotary phone — it was called an octothorpe.

But if you’re like everyone else scrolling social media, you aren’t interested in what happened last week, let alone the days of the octothorpe. You want to know what’s happening now. That’s where event hashtags come in. 

Hashtags, as they are used today, are labels that coders use to help people follow trending themes on social media platforms. This online tool empowers users to find the information they’re most interested in and discover new ideas and activities. 

The use of this symbol began on Twitter nearly 20 years ago, and it’s worth knowing how to find hashtags on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, too.

The tricks of hashtag usage go beyond personal entertainment. Hashtags can be integrated into successful digital marketing campaigns for companies of all sizes. When you integrate popular hashtags into your social media marketing, you can leverage major social trends for your company’s benefit. 

Here’s how hashtags work: Users can click on or search for hashtags, which are a single word or a string of words that follow the octothorpe. These keywords are categories of themes or information that can be searched to learn more about a particular topic. 

For example, if you wanted to sell all your things and go live in a van, you will want to search the popular #vanlife. The search will produce a page of the most popular pieces of content — depending on the platform — where the content creator added the hashtag #vanlife in a caption, tweet, or status update. 

If the user wants to keep updated on all the times people use that hashtag, they can follow the hashtag much like you can follow a person or brand. 

There are seemingly endless options for hashtags — limited only by your imagination of word combinations. At first, the number of options for campaign hashtags can feel vast. But you’re not alone in your search for effective hashtags. 

Once you learn how to find trending hashtags, you can incorporate these tools into your next marketing campaign. That’s how to stand out on social media.

How to find hashtags that drive results

Knowing how to find trending hashtags on TikTok, Twitter, and other social media platforms requires research and planning. Start by getting inside the brain of the people you want to target for your event, product, or service.

Document your target audience demographics and interests

When a hashtag starts trending on social media platforms, it means that thousands of people are searching for the same one. That’s useful information, especially if you have a more general audience. For example, #viral, #trending, and #instagood are always commonly popular hashtags that users follow.  

But the problem with those top hashtags is that your event or company won’t be the only one using them. Huge international corporations with massive social media teams pumping out high-dollar marketing campaigns, not to mention savvy influencers with millions of followers, use these, too. Small- and medium-sized businesses can get pushed down the list of relevant content for people to discover quite quickly.

That’s why the first thing to do when discovering the best hashtag to use for your campaign is to narrow your focus. Your target audience will be the people who you identify as prospects based on your values, products, and services. But what are they searching for? 

Make a list of their hobbies, interests, and influencers they might follow. Refine the demographics of the followers you care about so you can focus your content and add relevant hashtags.

Brainstorm relevant keywords and topics

Stay creative because next you’ll need to come up with a list of potential keywords you can add to your campaign hashtags. Think about ways that you would search for an event like yours, starting generally and narrowing in for the best hashtag event engagement

For example, if someone wanted to find free history tours in Istanbul, they could search #freetours, #history, and #Istanbul. These tourists may want to see certain popular sights that your tour offers. You could add #hagiasophia, #grandbazaar, #turkishbath, and other highlights that people planning a vacation there might want to learn more about. 

Use the search bar on social platforms

Of course, there are only so many hashtags you can add to a post before it gets ridiculous. Pick the best three to five hashtags for Instagram and TikTok and even fewer for Twitter. The more focused your message is, the more it will resonate with your target audience.

Experiment with different hashtags in the search bar of any social media platform to come up with different ideas for your campaign. Image source: Instagram.

To determine which from your list of hashtags to use, utilize the search bar on the various social media platforms as a hashtag finder to see which ones are trending. The waves of popular news, viral ideas, jokes, and current events impact which hashtags trend on certain days. Yet, jumping on these trends simply by searching hashtags can benefit your campaign immensely.

Examine your competitors’ social media posts

Part of the market analysis of this work needs to include a look at what your competitors are doing for their marketing efforts. You should be following your competition on all social media platforms so you can see what types of hashtags they are using. You don’t need to include everything they do, but you should think critically about their strategy.

If you share a target audience, you can include the same hashtags to try to digitally jump out in front of the people who are looking. Or, you can try an entirely different hashtag campaign to pivot your focus away from their audience and search for your own. Either way, you want to also think about how to find trending hashtags to capture as much attention as possible. 

Leverage hashtag generators and tools

Another way to find hashtags for Instagram and other platforms is to use free online generators. Three popular options include:

  • Hashtags.org, which tracks what has been trending over the past 24 hours
  • WhatTheTrend, which shares trends on Twitter
  • Trendsmap, which segments hashtags locally

Along with these hashtag finders for Instagram, you can also use the algorithms of each platform. For example, Instagram’s Explorer page is driven by an algorithm to offer a curation of posts and reels that could be of interest to the specific user. This is a great tool for clicking on different hashtags to drill down ideas that could work for your marketing campaign. 

When you find a few hashtags that could work, you can also play around with the autocomplete tool within the platform. For example, let’s say you were opening a bubble tea shop in San Diego. You might wisely think to add #bubbletea to your posts. Autocomplete, however, also offers #bubblebeatime as a popular hashtag. If you create a campaign around this hashtag, you can be a part of that followed feed.

Consider target location hashtags

Another way to get more Instagram followers is to use hashtags that are focused on the geographic region of your target audience. While you can’t guarantee that the community you’re interested in will be following Instagram trending hashtags, it is still a great way to connect with people who want to know what’s going on in their area.

How wide to cast your net and how to identify your location isn’t always as simple as the name of a city. Using the Istanbul tour example, you could add #Turkey, #Turkiye, and #Türkiye to your post or Tweet. Which hashtags suggestions are best depends on your target audience. Think about if you are trying to attract locals or tourists to your event. If your community has a popular nickname, you could add that, too. 

Look for high-engagement hashtags

When you are researching how to find trending TikTok hashtags and hashtags for other platforms, look for the ones that get the most comments, likes, and shares. The number of people following the hashtag is less important than how engaged the followers are with the content within that feed.

It’s a common mistake to only look at the number and connect popularity with effectiveness. The reality is that the people who come to your event or become loyal customers or clients do so because you’ve created a relationship with them. This requires not only a deep understanding of your target audience but also offering relevant messages for that particular online community.

One way to engage followers is through a social media contest. Challenges and contests are very popular both in real life and virtually, and you can organize these events with hashtags. For example, you can follow #30daychallenge to stay motivated toward a goal — so adding that hashtag to your event will make it more likely to be discovered by a wider audience. Getting people to interact with your content every day is the ultimate engagement.

Stay up to date with trends and event hashtags

Sometimes, the most effective Instagram hashtags finder is simply your ability to pay attention to what’s going on in the world. When you stay up to date with the current events that interest your target audience, you can see what hashtags are being used. Your curiosity is your best marketing tool. 

You may want to download a hashtag generator app like Tags, Tagify, or Hashtag Generator, which list hashtags by popularity. 

Create your own unique and memorable hashtags

Many marketing campaigns are built around gaining traction with one particular hashtag. My friend Dave, who is a photographer, loves using the hashtag #ShotoniPhone, which is a campaign. Apple created the hashtag to encourage iPhone owners to share examples of excellent photography, and it got results.

First, it gave people like Dave an opportunity to showcase their work, which in turn created the motivation to help Apple with user-generated content. Second, it engrained the message that the cameras on the iPhone are just as good, if not better, than some of the more expensive digital cameras that professionals use.

However, think carefully before creating your own branded hashtags. Small and medium-sized businesses won’t get the same kind of traction as Apple’s massive campaign and products. But, if you have a younger target audience and a product that lends itself to social media mentions, it’s worth experimenting.

Explore niche hashtags that are relevant to your industry

Along with researching hashtags related to your community and your competition, you’ll also want to take notice of any trends associated with your industry. There may be bigger themes and topics that have gotten attention you can leverage for your brand. Think big-picture within your industry when using any hashtag finder for Instagram or other platforms.  

Photographer Zai Laffitte uses hashtags to market her services for destination weddings. Image source: Instagram.

Utilize social media analytics tools

Finally, you’ll want to know if your process of how to find hashtags is working. The way to do that is by using social media analytics tools to measure the impact of your marketing campaign. These hashtags tools, which are integrated into each platform, will track metrics such as your reach, number of followers, likes, shares, and clicks. 

Pick a few of these key performance indicators and track them from the baseline at the start of your social media marketing campaign. These numbers can provide insights as to ways to improve your next campaign.

Unlock the power of hashtags for social media success

So, #areyouready? Hashtags are a popular way to jump on trends to expand your company’s ability to get noticed by a larger audience. To find success, you’ll need to do your research and be strategic and creative. 

To begin your journey of finding the best hashtags for your brand, get online! Thinking like the members of your target audience, pick a few hashtags to follow. Then, analyze the content and the other hashtags that are listed. Start to notice the ones that seem to offer more engagement and make a list of the ones that could work for your campaign. Soon, you could be on your way to becoming the next viral sensation.