On most social media sites the pound sign '#' turns any words that directly follow it into a searchable link. Hashtags allow you to group your content into topics based on keywords.
So if you wanted to post about social media you would include #SocialMedia in your post to join the conversation. Once you have posted your hashtag and it turns into a hyperlink, you can click on it to view all posts that mention the hashtag.
Now that you understand what a hashtag is here are a few more things you need to know in order to use them effecitvely:
What Not to include in your hashtags
First off, spaces will break your hashtag. So, you would need to type '#SocialMedia'. If you type '#Social Media' you will only be creating a hashtag for the word 'Social.' To differentiate between words you can use capitalization (#SocialMedia instead of #socialmedia). Capitalized letters have no effect on your hashtag results.
Numbers won't break your hashtag, but punctuation will. Commas, periods, exclamation points, question marks, and apostrophes are all out. Forget about asterisks, ampersands, or any other special characters as those will break your hashtag too.
Social Sites Using Hashtags
Most major social media platforms support hashtags, but if a platform doesn't, your hashtag will not work. The following social media platforms support hashtags:
- Twitter: Twitter is where hashtags got their start. The 'Trends' sidebar shows you a list of hashtags you might be interested in. You can search hashtags directly on Twitter and filter between the most popular tweets or just tweets from people you follow.
- Facebook: Facebook added hashtag support in 2013. Clicking on Facebook hashtags will take you to a list of posts from people you know and don't know containing the same hashtag.
- Google+: When you click on a Google+ hashtag results will show posts with the original hashtag as well as posts with similar hashtags and keywords.
- Instagram: If you click on an Instagram hashtag you'll see any public photos that use that same hashtag.
- Pinterest: Hashtags on Pinterest are great for making content more searchable. If you click on a hashtag in a pin description you will be taken to any pins with that same hashtag or word in the description.
- Tumblr: There is a 'Tag' section where you enter the topic of your post and the # is added to it automatically. If you put your own hashtag into the text of your post it will not be converted into a link.
Using Hashtags for Your Marketing
If you want to use hashtags as a part of your marketing here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Use relevant hashtags: You should already have an idea of the keywords you want to rank for. Use them as hashtags too!
- Get on the bandwagon: See what hashtags are trending and use them IF they are relevant to your company. Using a popular hashtag that is unrelated to your business will hurt your credibility.
- Create your own hashtag: If your business is hosting an event or running a campaign you should create your own hashtag. Remind your staff and followers to use the hashtag in related posts and make sure to include it in any promotional items as well.
A vague hashtag like #strategy or #guide won't be effective. Keep the hashtag specific and informative but short. You can use multiple hashtags in one post, but don’t overdo it. One to three hashtags per post is considered acceptable. So go out there and get started. #PracticeMakesPerfect