How to Use Hashtags on Social Media in Japan

Hashtags are extremely useful to attract new followers, so potential new customers. Nowadays, you cannot find success without creating an account on (the right) social media networks and without knowing how to get new followers. So let’s get right into this!

What Is a Hashtag?

“Hashtag” is the name of the hash symbol # and is mainly used to classify or categorize posts on social media. Someone who is looking for posts on a specific subject (technology, an event, a person, etc.) will find many by adding this symbol before keywords (#tech, #olympics, #trump, etc.). If he/she doesn’t choose popular keywords, however, he/she won’t find anything very interesting. This is why it is important to master “the hashtag art”.

It was first used by a Twitter user, and it spread rather quickly. Once it started to become popular, Twitter supported it officially. It is now extremely common on most social media networks, such as Line, Instagram, Facebook or TikTok. It is so useful that we can wonder why nobody didn’t think about it earlier. In the beginning, however, only Roman characters were used with hashtags. In 2011, Twitter introduced the Japanese hashtags when they entered the market (with kanji, hiragana and katakana).

What Is the Right Way to Use Hashtags?

Yes, if you add many hashtags to your posts, more people will see them.

But no, it’s not a good idea: it is called “hashtag abuse” and annoy many users. The appropriate number is 2 to 3 per post. Choose those which match your content the best, even though it can be hard to figure out which ones are the most impactful. However, it depends on the social media network, since 1 or 2 hashtags are optimal on Twitter, against 11 on Instagram, according to Gaiax.

The optimal number of hashtags on Twitter. Source: Gaiax.

The optimal number of hashtags on Instagram. Source: Gaiax.


Also, don’t use keywords that are too long. For example, 305,331 posts include the hashtag #オリンピック (orinpikku #olympics) on Instagram (as of March 31, 2020), against 7,767 related to #オリンピック2020 (#olympics2020). Even the slightest difference impacts the visibility of your post, in English as in Japanese. The posts concerning the #olympics have 3,479,501 posts against 1,199,752 for #olympic. The worst thing is to make a typo: there are 684 posts only for #olmypics and 12 for #オリンピク (orinipiku).

What Cannot You Do?

Numbers and characters are authorized, but you cannot use symbols, emoticons, punctuation or spaces. If you add a space or a hyphen, for example, only the first part will be recognized as a hashtag.

Besides, some tags are prohibited since they can hurt others’ sensibility. On Instagram for example, the hashtags #proanorexia and #thinspiration are prohibited because it leads to body shaming and can harm health. In another way, #EDM (Electronic Dance Music) is not allowed since many nudes were posted.

On Twitter, there is no restriction, but if your hashtags do not match your content, your account will be frozen.

Tips for Your Posts

Before posting something, it is better to check if the hashtags you want to use are popular. Search how many people are using them on the platform you want to post on – because hashtags are not evenly used on every network.

If you don’t know what you should write about to get followers, you can check the trends with HOT Word Ranking (for Twitter Japan). Yearly rankings are also available online for other platforms, but it is not updated as often. Hashtagify is a good site if you are looking for a tag related to a word (like #marketing or #socialmedia) and had no idea of which one you should add next (for Twitter and Instagram). You can check tag popularity there too. Also, for Instagram, the English site Top-Hashtags will help you find inspiration.

If you are popular enough, you can create your own hashtags or a campaign so that people promote your company.

Using Hashtags on Line?

Line is a popular platform in Japan, and it is a good idea to create an account for your firm. Compared to Instagram, hashtags are not very common, but it is spreading more and more. You should start using them right now: you will attract more people with them than without.

When you are writing a post, the hashtags will not be underlined in blue at first, but it will once it is posted. If you get many stamps (or likes), you will appear at the top of the timeline as a popular post. You can still add hashtags afterward, but it will be less likely to appear in Popular (人気 ninki) since the stamps previously added will not be taken into account for the ranking.

Now that you know how to make good use of hashtags, write some posts and observe the difference!

Whether you need a strategy or assistance with your new innovative product, we provide value for your new product launch in the Japanese Market. We offer Crowdfunding Support and Digital Marketing Services, all under one roof. You can contact us here.