What the # are they?

hash·tag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message on social media sites to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it.

Hashtags are how people search, collect and curate information in Facebook, instagram, twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

First used by Chris Messina, a former Google employee in 2007 – they took a while to catch on, but now they are used everywhere.

Chris Messina hashtag post

They are a way to get your posts found by other people & also to  find what other people are posting about you.

To see how they are used go to  instagram and search for all the images with the tag #seeaustralia (that’s the hashtag used by tourism australia) – there are  close to 1.9 million amazing images.

#seeaustralia instagram search

So how do you use a hashtag?

It’s as simple as adding the ‘#’ symbol before a word or phrase in your social media posts.

There is no set list of #hashtags, you don’t need to register one anywhere and no-one ‘owns’ hashtags.

You can create your own simply by putting the has before a word or a series of words.

There are a few guidelines to know about:

  • Spaces are a no-no! If your hashtag contains multiple words group them all together like #visitqueensland or you can use caps to differentiate between words (#VisitQueensland). Using uppercase won’t alter the search results
  • Numbers are supported, but punctuation marks and special characters are not, so leave out the ! , * & .

When using hashtags you will want to make sure they are:

  • Simple
  • Relevant
  • Specific and provide
  • Context

For tourism businesses, destination (#visitnsw) and activity specific (#whaleon) hashtags are more effective than generic hashtags (#family).

You can use a combination of both, just make sure they are relevant to your post.

Don’t #hashtag #bomb #berestrained & #relevant

What #hashtags should you use?

  • Try your destination hashtag, ask you local tourism organisation what they are using and promoting #portstephens or #visitshellharbour
  • Use the of your state toursim and national organisations #visitnsw or #seeaustarlia
  •  Create a tag for your business #lighthosuetourism

Here’s a few to get you started:



#restaurantaustralia (that’s Tourism Australia’s food & wine campaign’s hashtag)









Tourism Organisations including Tourism Australia and Destination NSW curate their social media content.

This means they are searching for content that they can share – using their hashtags will make you more likely to be found by them and shared to their millions of fans!


Keep in mind that the @ symbol does something completely different.

Using @ before a person’s Twitter or Instagram handle will let them know you have posted about them.

Using @ before a facebook page name (@seeaustralia) will create a link to that facebook page in your post and is a great way to promote other business and experiences within your destination.

A hashtag will not. A hashtag just makes your post searchable. You can use both a hashtag and a tag in a post like this one from @Australia on Instagram. Where they have used the hashtag #skydive for the the activity and linked to Western Australia’s instagram account by tagging @westernaustralia.

tags and hashtags

Using hashtags is simple and an effective way of grouping together content for your destination.

If all businesses in a destination are using the same hashtag in their posts, across all social media platforms, it increases the amount of searchable content for the destination and everyone’s chances of being found online.

So what are you waiting for, choose your hashtags and start posting!

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