You’ve all seen a hashtag by now, a word or phrase, devoid of spaces and proceeded by the hash or pound symbol # but what exactly are hashtags and why would you want to use them?
Hashtags were first made popular by Twitter, if for instance you’d posted a tweet that was related to business then you could have included the hashtag #business in the tweet, either contextually e.g ‘If you’re starting a #business then visit this website’ or you could just include the hashtag at the end of the tweet.
Hashtags are clickable, they are a taxonomy, basically they are a way to group related messages, tweets, updates, images or whatever else is labelled with them. If you click on a hashtag you’ll be shown a list of posts, updates, photos etc that have the same hashtag attached. More importantly, hashtags are indexable, meaning search engines can discover them.
Where Can I Use Hashtags?
Initially it was Twitter who first started to use hashtags, originally they were designed to group similar topics. They have since been adopted by most other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Flickr and more.
What Characters Can I Use In A Hashtag?
You can use letters and numbers in a hashtag, special characters don’t work, neither do spaces. If you have two separate words that look a bit dumb without a space then use uppercase to show a distinction such as #SteveGrady
Each platform has different acceptable usage of hashtags, on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, two or three hashtags are deemed as being acceptable, any more could be considered spamming. In the case of Instagram, given that the platform is more visual then using more hashtags is the norm. Instagram allow a maximum of thirty tags per post.
Always check to see what hashtags are trending to see if any are relevant to your post, never be tempted to use a none relevant hashtag though, it’ll just make you look like a spammer. You can check what hashtags are trending at any time by visiting www.hashtags.org and another site reports the top hashtags on Instagram http://top-hashtags.com/instagram/
So Why Would I Use A Hashtag?
Despite the hashtag still being used as a comical dimension on many platforms and even in media that don’t support them as a clickable link e.g “I’ve just stubbed my toe #ouchthathurt” is perhaps something that you’d receive as a text message from a friend., the hashtag is predominantly used to group similar content.
TV shows often create a hashtag so that people can comment and almost chat about the show. #iacgmooh represents I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and so anyone posting a comment or thought about the show can use that hashtag either to post or to search content.
Building A Brand With Hashtags
I think we’ll see more and more of this as the years progress. The fact that Google+ has now automatically started to tag content on their platform is an indication just how useful and popular this method of categorisation has become. So, how do you take advantage of this as a brand owner?
Just as having a a strong logo is important when building a brand, having a unique and memorable hashtag is now a distinct advantage for any business that finds themselves playing in the social media arena. One prime example of this is a lady called Holly Schippers who is a nail tech, educator and blogger . Holly brands under the name FingerNailFixer.
As I write this article, Holly is travelling the world holding seminars with nail technicians in several countries around the globe. Part of her seminar includes teaching a technique of looking at an everyday items through the eyes of a nail technician thus enabling them to match nail art to an outfit or accessory. Holly calls this technique “Using your nail eyes” and she’s successfully created a very popular hashtag in the process #naileyes. In addition, you can see with the screenshot, Holly has also created and made popular other hashtags that both she and her followers and students use the world over. This sort of branding would make even the most high flying marketing executive green with envy.
So think of a unique hashtag that is relevant to your business, use it on all your social media updates, get it printed onto your business cards, put it on your shop sign, your company vehicles, your staff uniforms. A hashtag if created well is more memorable than a web address. Holly can now simply put #naileyes anywhere she can now and people would search for it.
So How Do I Use Hashtags?
Just use them? Go ahead! start with a # and then add whatever letters and numbers you like, remember NO SPACES! Include them on your posts. What industry are you in? What brands do you represent? Search for some competitors and see what hashtags they’re using. If you’re a local business then always include a hashtag of your town or city, You’ll find that there are a lot of people who retweet or repost geographical hashtags. Local business support agencies like the Chamber of Commerce often automate Twitter searches looking for specific hashtags and then retweet them. This puts you in front of all their followers immediately. A hashtag is a searchable label that is only going to become more relevant. Get in on the act now, most of all #havefun.
Please feel free to use the comments section below if you have any questions or if you have anything to add.