Do you remember the last time you saw a hashtag? Chances are it was in the last hour if not the last day, and it may not have even been on a social network. Hashtags are everywhere today, from your favorite TV show to highway billboards. As such, they can and should be a part of your social media strategy. The key is using them effectively.

Hashtags serve a couple purposes — they are a great way to group like content on social media and are also a way to show that you are up-to-date on industry trends. We’ve all seen people either misuse hashtags (meaning isn’t what they intended), use too many hashtags or use meaningless hashtags. Don’t fall into that trap. Here are our top 5 tips for using hashtags on social media:

• The shorter the hashtag the better. #thishashtagissuperlongandhardtoread
• Use capitalization when including multiple words in the hashtag. #HappyFriday
• Limit hashtags to 1-4 per post (this applies to all social networks with the exception of Instagram). #10IsTooMany
• Research your hashtag before you post it. Do a quick search on Twitter or to ensure it has the meaning you think it does.
• Avoid overly broad hashtags. They won’t add anything to your post and will take up character limits. #BeSpecific

Keep in mind that not every post should have a hashtag. If it seems forced, meaningless or too broad, then leave the # sign alone. Maybe you don’t have anything to say about #NationalCupcakeDay, and that is OK.

Also remember that hashtags’ effectiveness doesn’t end after the post. Continue to monitor hashtags. It is a great way to participate in industry conversations and stay up-to-date with the trends that matter most to your business and its audience.