There have been various reports circulating throughout different LinkedIn communities as to the effectiveness of hashtags in the app, and whether you even need to bother with hashtags in your LinkedIn posts anymore.

As you may recall, for a long time, LinkedIn didn’t actually support hashtags at all, but then in 2018, the platform not only reactivated hashtag discoverability, but it also started pushing hashtag use in an effort to get more users manually categorizing their posts.

The idea here is that through better content segmentation, LinkedIn is then better able to show more users content that they’re interested in. But over time, as algorithms have evolved, the need for hashtags, in general, has lessened, because social platform systems are now much better at taking in the whole context of a post’s text, including visuals, user history, and all keywords included.

In other words, hashtags are less important because most of the time, relevant mentions and indicators are included in the post anyway, and that’s enough to ensure the system can show your post to the most interested audiences.

LinkedIn post example

In theory, that could mean that LinkedIn wouldn’t actually need somebody to add in a repeated hashtag like the above example, because the system would be able to identify the “Meta” mention within the text.

But is that right?

I asked LinkedIn, and they kind of answered:

Using hashtags can be a helpful tool for viewers to easily identify what a post is about and find other related posts. However, it’s important to use hashtags that are closely related to the topic of the post for them to be most effective. In addition to hashtags, we also consider conversation topics and keywords to help surface relevant information for professionals looking to advance in their careers.”

So LinkedIn’s saying that you should only use relevant hashtags to maximize effectiveness, but it’s not entirely clear whether you need to add them if the keyword/s are already mentioned in the post.

But:

“When searching for conversations on a specific topic you can use topics or hashtags.”

So it seems that LinkedIn is now less reliant on hashtags for maximizing discovery, though you should be wary of which keywords are mentioned in your main post, and consider how you can tap into the right conversation streams based on your target topics.

How do you do that?

By following popular pages and people within your business niche, you’ll be able to glean better understanding of the common hashtags related to your sector. You can also search for hashtags in the app.

As a bonus, here’s a listing of the top 50 most-used hashtags on LinkedIn, as of 2021.

LinkedIn popular hashtags

I’m guessing that AI is a bigger trend now than it was three years ago, but this gives you some additional context around the more common discussion trends in the app.

So, do you need to use hashtags on LinkedIn?

I would say that hashtags in the app are less relevant, and as LinkedIn expert Richard van der Blom has noted, hashtags also aren’t helping to expand post reach in the app the way that they once were.

According to van der Blom’s research, using 3-10 hashtags in your LinkedIn posts did give you a significant reach boost over the past couple of years. But now, hashtags are providing no additional reach boost at all.

Which would seem to suggest that LinkedIn is gradually de-emphasizing them as a discovery tool, as part of its broader focus on topical relevance, as opposed to maximizing reach.

As explained by LinkedIn:

“If you share a post about getting a new job, and people like that post, that doesn’t mean their entire networks will also see the post in their feed since it probably isn’t as relevant to their connections as it is to them. However, if you share a post outlining advice about tackling a workplace challenge it could be seen both by your network and people outside your network who might find it helpful to their career growth.

LinkedIn specifically notes that its system “is not designed for virality”, so hashtags are not necessarily supposed to work on LinkedIn the way that they do on other apps.

That could be part of the reason why LinkedIn is de-emphasizing them, in order to avoid people gaming the system, but the bottom line is that you probably don’t need to be as concerned about hashtags on LinkedIn as you may have been in the past, depending on the context.