Wondering how to use hashtags?
Hashtags are everywhere! Love them or hate them, you can’t ignore them.
What are hashtags?
Once upon a time, a hashtag was just the hash mark or pound symbol, like so: #
The revolution started in 2007 when Twitter began to use the hashtag as a method of indexing keywords for easy discovery.
Other social sites jumped on the bandwagon, and now hashtags are ubiquitous on social media. The term has become so commonplace that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2010.
You know that pound (#) sign on your keyboard? Just add it before a word and voila, you have a hashtag!
A hashtag is a word or a group of words preceded by a pound (#) sign, which is used to categorize and find conversations around a particular topic or trend.
A hashtag is a clickable link to a group of posts using the same hashtag.
Yup, it’s that simple! You don’t have to be a teen or a computer geek to use hashtags.
In geek-speak, hashtags are metadata tags which are used for grouping conversations. For example, suppose you are interested in Internet Marketing. You can search for #internetmarketing. Any social posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and such that use this hashtag will surface, so you can be a part of the conversation.
The very first hashtag was tweeted on August 23, 2007, by Chris Messina, a product designer and internet consultant.
What are hashtags for?
I have already explained what a hashtag is and even included a spoiler about what they are.
Some people use these hashtags excessively without any clear objective, but the truth is that if you use these tags strategically and with sense, it can help you massively improve the results of your social networks.
This social media resource is used to tag content so you can:
- Search on a specific topic to collect all the information
- Be easily found by your target audience
- Give visibility to a specific topic
While it sounds simple enough to place a hashtag in front of your keyword, there is some other basic information that is important to know when you are trying to be found by using hashtags. Using them only makes a difference in your marketing strategy when done the right way. Here are some general tips:
- Don’t get carried away using a hashtag every couple of words. The number of hashtags that can be used depends on which platform you are using, but in most cases, one or two hashtags have more impact than a high number of them.
- Keep hashtags short and memorable rather than trying to use a lot of words in one tag.
- Don’t try to be too clever or unusual. If you choose a tag that no one is searching for, it won’t benefit your marketing.
- Using hashtags that are detailed and specific will lead to better results than broad or general ones. Broad terms are not likely to be searched, and if you use them, your content will probably get lost in a sea of unrelated content.
- Don’t try to force hashtags onto every post. Instead only use them when they add value to your post and are likely to stimulate conversation and interaction.
- Hashtags can not only attract members of your target audience, they can also be used to research your competition. Search using hashtags, and you will uncover relevant content related to your topic.
Why use hashtags?
Hashtags have become an essential part of our day-to-day vernacular, all thanks to social media. And there is probably no better way to distinguish a digital novice from a digital native than the way they use hashtags.
Hashtags are often used as commentary or a punch line, but that’s not helpful to us as marketers.
We want to use hashtags that help our content get discovered, and to be part of a larger conversation around topics relevant to our business.
Hashtags are also useful to discover what’s trending, and to follow breaking news. Click on a hashtag to get a real-time feed of the posts using that hashtag, and get an overview of an event.
- The first step is to discover the hashtags used by others in your niche. Follow hashtags related to your line of business.
- Before using a hashtag on a particular social channel, check out the rules. Although the fundamental principles are the same, the rules vary from one social channel to another. For example, Twitter focuses more on the topic while Instagram focuses on the description.
- For a business, it’s important to perfect the art of targeting your audience. So get as specific as possible when using hashtags.
- Get creative. The right hashtag has the power to go viral. After you’ve gotten the hang of using hashtags, try coming up with a new one. Who knows, it might become a trend!
- Hashtags are not just for marketing and promotion but for engagement as well. Use hashtags to start a conversation and participate in that conversation. Engaging with your users is a key to a well-rounded business.
- New as of Fall 2020: DO use hashtags on Facebook!
- Don’t use a hashtag without research. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Check whether the hashtag is already being used. If it is, note what it is being used for, to save yourself from possible embarrassment.
- Don’t overdo it. Using too many hashtags will make your post look spammy and drown the message. Depending on the social channel, decide on the number of relevant hashtags that you can use. But in general, don’t have more hashtags than you have words.
- Keep your hashtags short. Using overly long hashtags will confuse the visitors and put them off. #thisgivesmeaheadache – well, you got it!
- Don’t use the same hashtags on all platforms. Silly or irreverent hashtags may fly on Twitter and IG, but not LinkedIn, where you should remain professional.
- Avoid acronyms which are not popular or well known. Acronyms like #YOLO may work but ones like #MCM may not. For example, an acronym used by the Burger King (#WTFF) meaning What the French Fry – failed to gain any traction mainly because of the unfamiliarity of the hashtag.