LTG03: What Are Hashtags and Why You Should Be Using Them

On this episode of “Let’s Talk Genealogy” I’m sharing all about hashtags! You know, those pesky annoying things you see on social media! Well, they may be annoying, but they’re useful in your Genealogy and Family History research. What do I mean? Stick around and you’ll understand.

Let’s Talk Genealogy: What Are Hashtags & Why You Should Be Using Them

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According to Wikipedia, “A hashtag is a type of metadata tag used on social networks such as Twitter and other microblogging services, allowing users to apply dynamic, user-generated tagging which makes it possible for others to easily find messages with a specific theme or content.”

The hashtag “word” begins with the “#” symbol. For example, #Genealogy #FamilyHistory. There are no spaces between multiple word hashtags. They are one consecutive word.

While I’m discussing hashtags, I’m mainly referring to Instagram and Twitter, but there are other social media platforms that allow the use of hashtags. Pinterest now allows the use of hashtags. Tumblr still uses hashtags. Facebook allows you to use hashtags, but I haven’t found them to be as useful over there. Everywhere you go online you’ll see them! 

Don’t overlook the use of them! They can be helpful!

So, now lets discuss why you should be using them on social media...


I put together a list of 5 reasons why you should be using hashtags on your social media accounts (with examples). Don’t be afraid to use the allotted amount of hashtags! At the time of this blog post, Instagram will allow you to use 30 hashtags. USE THEM! You’ll understand my point in a moment. I’m not certain of Twitter’s rules regarding hashtags, but I would imagine “if it fits, it tweets” (there is a limit to characters on tweets). Twitter’s tweets can look a little more spammy when you use a lot there. I usually only use about 3 or 4 in my tweets and try to keep them relevant to the content of the tweet.

So, are you ready for my 5 reasons you should use hashtags...

  1. Hashtags help you organize your own content. In my experience hashtags help me organize my own content. Let me explain. I usually add surname hashtags to my posts. Recently, I was contacted by someone on Instagram asking about a family surname. I remembered including the surname hashtag and was able to locate the picture and family information after a quick search through my #GoodmanFamilyHistory hashtag.
  2. You’ll find like minded users. In the last few weeks I’ve connected with individuals who found my account using hashtags. One even replied how hashtags really do work! I gave him a few tips on using hashtags and explained the growing Genealogy community on Instagram. How did we find each other? Yep... hashtags!
  3. New viewers to your Instagram Stories. Using hashtags in your Instagram Stories will help you get discovered by others. When I add hashtags to my Instagram Stories I can see the number of individuals who saw my Story using a certain hashtag. INSTAGRAM TIP: Only use one or two hashtags in your Stories.
  4. You can create your own hashtag. Create your own hashtag so others can find your posts. Get creative and share your content with your own hashtag. People can now follow hashtags on Instagram! What a fun way to get discovered by others! Get creative with your hashtags! I use the #JanisGenealogy hashtag I created whenever I post information about Janis Joplin’s Family History.
  5. Hashtags are fun! I have a lot of fun creating new hashtags, following random hashtags, and seeing what others post with hashtags. Hashtags are fun and they’re your friend! Use more hashtags and have fun with them!

Let’s Talk Genealogy Podcast: What are hashtags & Why you should be using them by Genealogy GIrl Talks


So, now that you know what hashtags are and why you should use them, are you ready for a few hashtag tips for Instagram? 

  1. Don’t use hashtags that are too popular. You’ll get lost in the feed.
  2. Create your own hashtag - one that is specific to your blog/website. (#GenealogyGirlTalks)
  3. Use the #Genealogy and #FamilyHistory hashtags in your posts so we can find you!
  4. Don’t be intimidated by hashtags - remember they are fun!
  5. Include surname hashtags in your posts. Include the words Genealogy and Family History in these posts. For example, #GoodmanFamilyGenealogy #GoodmanGenealogy #GoodmanFamilyHistory. You can never be sure which hashtag your future cousin connections are using!
  6. Misspell the Genealogy hashtag as “Geneology” (see my recent blog post on why I misspell hashtags here).
  7. Include location hashtags in your posts. We want to know where your ancestors lived. This will help your cousins find you and know if they are related.
  8. Hashtags can be “Cousin Bait.” Others can determine if your Jones line is their Jones line based on your location and surname hashtags.
  9. Use hashtags to connect with larger accounts using the same hashtag. Add the #ancestry hashtag to your posts. Consider the #familysearch hashtag, too. You never know who will share (and see) your posts!
  10. Hashtags are your friend! Use the appropriate amount of hashtags in your posts. Get creative and share relative hashtags based on what is in your photos. Have a tree in your photo? Add that hashtag. Have an old car in your photo? Add that hashtag. Is there a handmade dress in your photo? Add that hashtag. Is there a style of home in your photo? Add that hashtag.

I hope you find this blog post helpful! Let me know how you use hashtags and if you’ll use more of them in the comments below!


mentioned on the podcast!

  • Genealogy Blogger Spotlight. If you’re a Genealogy or Family History themed blogger, submit your blog to the Genealogy Girl Talks’ Genealogy Blogger Spotlight. You can find the link HERE.
  • Genealogy Photo A Day. Come join your Genealogy & Family History friends on Instagram as we participate in the #GenealogyPhotoADay challenge. Find the daily prompts on my Instagram feed and jump right in!
  • Send a Voice Message on Anchor. If you’re using the Anchor app to listen to the podcast, send me a Voice Message sharing how you began your Genealogy & Family History journey! I may share it on a future podcast episode! Oh, and if you’re not using the app, you can email me an audio recording. Don’t forget to include your name and website/blog name. If you don’t have a website, let us know how we can connect with you online!

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