There seems to be a rise in the use of hashtags lately. I have seen more people using hashtags recently, however, they are not always being used correctly. Hashtags have become such a common practice these days that people have started using them outside of their intended purpose. People use them in text messages, chats, songs, and advertisements.
What Are Hashtags?
hash·tag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it.
Once someone clicks on that hashtag, they’ll be brought to a page that gathers all of the posts with the same hash tagged keyword in real-time. Once a keyword picks up enough momentum it becomes known as “trending.” Trending isn’t simply a matter of becoming the most popular hashtag on the networks. Each user’s trending topics is different based on their location and social connections.
How did Hashtags Get Started?
The first use of a hashtag in social media can actually be traced back to one man. Chris Messina, a former Google employee who worked in developer relations and as a designer on Google+, Tweeted the first ever hashtag. This Tweet took place all the way back in 2007, so it took quite a bit to catch on, but when it did, it did in a big way.
How to Use Hashtags
Using a hashtag in a social post is as easy as adding a # in front of a single word or string of words. Spaces or punctuation are not used in a hashtag, however numbers are acceptable. The real secret is that as a business owner, we want to ensure that the hashtags we do use will help our business. I have seen businesses use hashtags like #want2seeSomeSalesSoon. These types of hashtags will not help your business.
Hashtags are used to search. When you put a hashtag in the search bar of Facebook or Twitter, you will find others that have used the same hash tags come up in the search. The best practice is to find keywords based on what your customer would be searching for. It may be tempting to use something that is cute or quirky, but be sure that what you are posting or tweeting fits the hashtag you have chosen to use. It just does not work to use #SuperBowl with a post that is about content marketing.
Some simple tips:
- Don’t string too many words together with a single hashtag.
- If you tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your tweet.
- Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Don’t over-tag a single tweet.
- Use hashtags only on tweets relevant to the topic.
You can take advantage of what you know will be trending hashtags and incorporate that into your tweets or posts. For example, this past weekend we all know a trending hashtag will be #SuperBowl. If you can incorporate that into a post or tweet and not be leading someone on like my graphic above, it is a great marketing strategy.
A good example upcoming might be using Valentine’s Day. Of course we know the trending posts will be Love, Couples, Valentine’s Day. A graphic like the one below and using a #Love is entirely appropriate and could possibly bring you customers you would not have normally seen because of the #Love
When you’re thinking of hashtags that you could use to engage with your audience, it’s also beneficial to look towards your audience. Find the keywords and hashtags that are already associated with your brand, and bolster the positive ones. I created a handout that can help you in your use of hashtags.
Which Networks Support Hashtags?
Most networks use hashtags in the same basic way; to organize data and make it easier for user consumption. However, each network has a different tweak on how they use them.
Twitter: The network that brought us the hashtag is the most popular site to use it on. Just scrolling through my own feed I see that more than half of the tweets contain a hashtag. You can find the trending topics on the left hand side of your Twitter stream.
Facebook: Clicking a hashtag on Facebook will bring you to a separate page with posts that are visible to you based on the various users’ privacy settings. You’ll also see the different trending topics in the top right hand corner of your News Feed
Instagram: Hashtagging on Instagram is great if you want to see photos similar to the ones that you’ve taken. Simply hashtag the picture you took and it will create a link to a page with other pictures of the same subject.
Google+: Google+ uses hashtags similar to the other sites, but with one main difference. Google+ will add hashtags to content if they think that it is a relevant and popular keyword. You can always opt-out of this through Google+ if you’d like.
Tumblr: When you’re creating a post on your Tumblr page, you’ll see an area at the bottom asking you to add “tags.” When you start to type a tag for your post, Tumblr will automatically add a hashtag to the front of it.
Pinterest: The main thing that you need to bear in mind when creating hashtags on Pinterest is that they’re only clickable in a Pin description. Also, hashtags aren’t searchable on Pinterest, so you’ll need to just search the keyword to find the content.
YouTube: Hashtag use within YouTube is most prevalent in the comments section. Users can leave comments with hashtags, which will then click through to a page with videos that contain that hashtag in their title.
Kickstarter: On Kickstarter, sorting by different hashtags can make it easier for you to find projects you’d be interested in investing in.
Vine: As a company owned by the creators of the hashtag, you’d better believe that Vine has included the functionality. As with other sites, adding a link to your Vine’s description will bring you to a page with Vine’s on the same topic.
Other Networks that support Hashtags
They have been integrated into the most popular social media platforms and social media has definitely become a facet of our lives. If you are a business owner and not using social media, you are losing customers just by the fact that you are not “searchable” Hashtags create incentives for people to categorize their posts, which in turn makes it easier for users looking for posts on the same topic to find content. It’s also an easy way to distribute popular news to groups of people who otherwise may not be actively searching for it. Always remember that your hashtags should reflect your business.
How are you using hashtags on your Social Platforms?