Are you using hashtags on LinkedIn?
Don’t worry, it’s not a trick question.
You’ve probably used hashtags on Twitter and Instagram because it’s the ‘done’ thing. You may have started using them on Facebook? But you might be caught in two minds about using them on LinkedIn. Are they even allowed on the ‘professional’ network?
Well, the short answer is, “Yes, they are!”
And if you want to reach a wider audience with your content, then it makes sense to start using them.
But before you dive in, you need to know how to use them correctly so you can create the right impression.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to use and optimise your hashtags on LinkedIn so you can get your content discovered by more people outside your immediate network.
But first, here’s a brief history of hashtags on LinkedIn …
When did hashtags arrive on LinkedIn?
Hashtags have had a topsy-turvy ride on the LinkedIn platform. A few years back they were present but LinkedIn “rolled it back due to poor user response.”
In 2016, they were available on the mobile app only: “Hashtags included in your posts (or others) are now tappable and lead to search results so that you can discover other posts with the same hashtag.”
Then, in 2017, hashtags reappeared on the desktop platform as part of the new user interface. But still, nobody knew what they were supposed to do or how to use them.
By early 2018, reports surfaced of some users being ‘forced’ to insert hashtags into their posts:
@LinkedInHelp - why am I unable to post on LI w/o using a hashtag? Sidenote, I already looked in the help center and was unable to find a way to contact the support desk. So here I am, reaching out to LI via Twitter.— Lexy Quad (@lexyquad) April 5, 2018
LinkedIn confirmed they were running a beta test “to better understand the value of using hashtags in posts to help members discover and join relevant conversations.”
But now, it’s safe to say that LinkedIn hashtags are back and working. So let’s take a look at how you can make the most of them.
How do hashtags work on LinkedIn?
Hashtags on LinkedIn work in a similar way to Twitter and Instagram – to categorise content.
Hashtags help users find content on a specific topic. And, if you add hashtags to your content, they’ll help you get discovered by other users, including those not connected to you. What's more, you can follow hashtags on LinkedIn, meaning that posts containing your chosen ones will appear on your feed.
From a marketing perspective, that’s the winner – making your LinkedIn content available to a broader audience.
Do hashtags work on LinkedIn Profiles and Company Pages?
You can add hashtags to LinkedIn Profiles and Company Pages, but they don’t behave in the same way. They’re not searchable, and they don’t highlight as a blue clickable link, which makes them a non-tagged keyword.
For example, when I search for #socialselling in ‘People’ (rather than the default ‘Content’) I see these results:
My first result shows Sarah Santacroce, who doesn’t have the hashtag in her Profile Headline and Summary, although she does reference the term ‘social selling’ – without the hashtag – in the Experience section of her profile:
The second result shows Steve Jones, who does have the hashtag in his Headline and Summary:
The same happens if you search for hashtags in ‘Companies’. For example, DigitalMarketer uses #socialselling (and other hashtags) in the ‘About us’ section of their company page:
How to use hashtags on LinkedIn
There are two sides to using hashtags on LinkedIn:
Finding relevant hashtags to follow, so you can join a conversation.
Adding relevant hashtags to your content, so more people can discover you.
Let’s take a look:
How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn posts (aka status updates)
At the top of the homepage, click into the ‘Share an article, photo, video or idea’ field to write your post content:
Add hashtags – using the # symbol – in the body of your post or at the end of the message:
How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn articles (aka Pulse)
From the homepage, click ‘Write an article’ under the status update field. You can include hashtags in the body or at the end of your article, like the post update above.
When you’ve finished writing your article, click ‘Publish’ in the top right corner. A pop-up window will appear. In the ‘Tell your network what your article is about’ field, you can add a short intro about the article including relevant hashtags:
Note: You cannot edit or remove hashtags after you’ve published your article.
How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn comments
You can also add hashtags when you comment on a post or an article. It’s another way of reinforcing your topic and making it discoverable:
How to find new hashtags on LinkedIn
LinkedIn lets you find and follow hashtags on the topics you’re interested in.
Start by entering the topic you’d like to find in the Search bar at the top of the page. For example, when you type #socialmedia you get a list of social media related hashtags:
Select a hashtag from the list of suggestions – e.g. #socialmediamarketing – to see content related to the hashtag topic in your feed.
Click the ‘Follow’ button at the top of the page to add the hashtag topic to your list:
How to manage the hashtags you follow
You can manage the hashtags you follow from your LinkedIn homepage. On the bottom left-hand side is a section where you will find your 'Recent' searches and activity, 'Groups' and ‘Followed Hashtags’:
In the ‘Groups’ and ‘Followed’ sections, LinkedIn displays up to three results with options to see more:
Click ‘Show more’ to expand the list and display more of the groups or hashtags you’re following:
Click ‘Followed Hashtags’ to show the full list of hashtags you’re currently following (here you can unfollow them or see recent posts using said hashtags).
At the bottom of this menu, click on the ‘Discover more’ link to reveal more hashtags that might be of interest:
Click the ‘+ Follow’ link to start following a new hashtag from the list:
Note: LinkedIn displays the number of followers so you can see how popular a hashtag is.
Most popular hashtags on LinkedIn 2019
With hashtags gaining more adoption in 2019, we're seeing some hashtags that reach well beyond millions of followers. The most popular hashtags on LinkedIn usually consist of one word and are exceptionally broad, making them applicable to many businesses and individuals.
We've curated a list of 25 popular LinkedIn hashtags that are both, relevant to marketers and are high in follower count (data correct as of September 2019):
- #innovation - 37,683,010 followers
- #management - 35,270,217 followers
- #digitalmarketing - 27,286,973 followers
- #technology - 25,231,754 followers
- #entrepreneurship - 22,221,557 followers
- #socialmedia - 19,541,326 followers
- #marketing - 19,075,546 followers
- #branding - 18,068,674 followers
- #personaldevelopment - 14,062,346 followers
- #sustainability - 12,913,868 followers
- #travel - 6,982,714 followers
- #sales - 5,443,551 followers
- #law - 5,522,370 followers
- #fundraising - 5,822,571 followers
- #culture - 4,413,105 followers
- #fashion - 4,168,769 followers
- #networking - 3,087,081 followers
- #business - 2,455,166 followers
- #health - 1,867,594 followers
- #storytelling - 405,064 followers
- #leadership - 430,362 followers
- #partnerships - 250,295 followers
- #hiring - 259,731 followers
- #inspiration - 119,244 followers
- #success - 110,622 followers
To gain a more tailored recommendation of what hashtags to follow, you can use the recommendations in your feed which you can access through your personal LinkedIn account (as mentioned above).
Note: The actual location of the link changes as LinkedIn works on their UI, but it may work while you're reading this article.
However, before you rush off to add any of these hashtags to your posts, remember that with such a high volume of followers and posts trickling in, your posts may go unnoticed by new audiences, and that would defeat the purpose of using hashtags altogether!
Make sure to also use niche hashtags that are suitable for your brand (or are what potential customers may be following).
Once you do choose a hashtag - don't stop there and do an additional check for similar hashtags. LinkedIn's hashtags and their followers vary a lot when it comes to variations, even when they have a similar meaning. For example:
- #socialmedia - 19,541,326 followers 🚀
- #socialmediamarketing - 26,132 followers 📈
Same goes for hashtags in other spaces:
- #entrepreneurship - 22,221,557 followers 🚀
- #entrepreneur - 59,682 followers 📈
Finally, just because a hashtag doesn't have a lot of followers yet, it doesn't mean it won't grow in the future. For example, the hashtag #socialmediamarketing had quintupled (that's a fancy way to say 5x'ed) in less than a year!
So if you find a hashtag that makes sense in a specific niche, you have the chance to become an early adopter.
8 tips for optimising hashtags on LinkedIn
Now you know how to manage your hashtags on LinkedIn, follow these tips to make the most of every post you publish.
#1 - Make sure your hashtags are visible
There’s no point using a hashtag if you’re operating in private mode on LinkedIn. Check your profile settings to make sure it’s public to everyone, else your content (including hashtags) won’t get discovered.
#2 - Don’t use too many hashtags
There’s no limit to how many hashtags you can add to your content. But if you use too many your post will look spammy. Best practice suggests that like Twitter, three hashtags is plenty.
Some people fall into the trap of cross-posting content from Instagram that includes multiple hashtags. And then their LinkedIn post looks awful:
#3 - Format your hashtags
LinkedIn defaults to lowercase when it displays hashtags; e.g. #socialmediamarketing. But it’s considered a good practice to use capitals at the start of each word, so it’s easier for people to decipher; e.g. #SocialMediaMarketing.
Note: Abbreviated acronym hashtags are not standard on LinkedIn. For example, on Twitter, the common acronym for #SocialMediaMarketing is #SMM, but LinkedIn prefers the full version.
#4 - Combine hashtags with your message
It’s always best to add at least one sentence to your post rather than using hashtags exclusively. Even when you post an image or video, add a short sentence along with your hashtags.
A splattering of hashtags with no context looks lazy and spammy. And LinkedIn’s algorithm stops irrelevant, low-quality, and spammy content from reaching a user’s feed.
#5 - Place hashtags sensibly
You can place hashtags in your message or at the end, but don’t hashtag every word. As Nick Diakanastasis commented:
Write your message first and then see if it makes sense to convert a word into a hashtag, or add a hashtag at the end.
Don’t tag words that aren’t important! Remember to use a hashtag to categorise your post.
#6 - Create your own hashtags
Creating a custom hashtag is an excellent way to build your brand across all social platforms, and it makes it easy for followers to identify and connect with you. Rebecca Whitlocke commented:
“I would suggest that for anyone using their own custom hashtag to keep it short and memorable - I’ve seen a few recently that are 7 words strung together.”
But there’s another advantage, too. Custom hashtags help you track shares of your LinkedIn posts. As John Espirian explains:
“Searching for my own hashtags means I can see when people share my posts. Shares aren’t always easy to see, especially on LinkedIn desktop, so this is a good way to track them.”
For more tips, check out John’s article on how to create a branded hashtag for your business.
#7 - Don’t use hashtags for mentions
If you want to reference an individual or a company then use the @mention functionality rather than a hashtag:
#8 - Test your hashtags
Don’t test your hashtags like you would spaghetti – throwing a load of hashtags into a post and hoping one of them sticks is not good practice.
Instead, record what hashtags you’ve used on each post and see which ones bring the most engagement.
Hashtags are alive and kicking on LinkedIn.
Use hashtags to make it easier for other users to discover your content, and help you find and connect with other users who share common interests.
Add relevant hashtags to your content as you write posts and add comments, (or use the LinkedIn suggestions if you’re unsure), to make the most of every post you publish for your brand or your clients.
But remember to follow the tips above to ensure your hashtags are a success.
*This blog was updated in September 2019, originally published in January 2019.