Posted by Lisa Thompson

Hashtags are used on almost all major social networks, but despite their popularity, they’re not always used effectively. Contrary to what it may seem, they’re more than just a cute add-on at the end of a post.

Do you know how to make the best use of hashtags when posting updates or images for your nonprofit? Here is a quick guide on how to use them successfully.

What exactly are hashtags? Think of them as keywords that are used to group and organize messages on a social network. Hashtags are preceded by the pound sign (#) and can be a word or a short phrase (e.g., #Hashtag or #ThisIsAHashtag).

Who defines hashtags? You do. You can place a pound (#) sign in front of any keyword in your message and turn them into hashtags. However, the power of hashtags comes from other people using the same keyword(s) so that by clicking on a hashtag, you can get a group of other messages on that topic. You can do a quick search for keywords prior to posting your message to see which hashtags are popular, or trending.

Five that are often trending for the nonprofit sector include #activism, #dogood, #philanthropy, #grants and #causes. You can use a tool like to discover the top hashtags for your cause.

How can I use hashtags? Here are some typical uses of hashtags:

Why should my nonprofit use hashtags? Two reasons: To increase exposure and organize your content. Hashtags also allow you to search for tweets yourself, get involved in subjects important to your nonprofit and discover what other organizations are talking about.

One of the easiest ways to engage with your community is to ask them to share pictures, videos and other content on social media using a particular hashtag. This adds value by connecting them with others who share their passions. Additionally, it promotes your nonprofit in a subtle way. A branded hashtag allows you to more easily track mentions of your campaign.

Hashtags were born on Twitter, but now they’re used on Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Instagram—almost any social platform that includes content sharing. Be consistent in your hashtag use across all networks, but note the hashtags that are specific to each network (#retweet, #regram, etc). With a purposeful hashtag strategy, you’ll open yourself up to a new world of branding opportunities for your organization.

Still hesitant about using hashtags? Firespring offers social media services as well as event registration solutions. Just give us a call at 877.447.8941 or send an email to