Social Solution Saturday: The Hashtag

I’ve been working with a lot of my clients lately on their Instagram/Twitter hashtags. While they can be annoying (especially if you use WAY too many), they’re a really useful tool for broadening your audience online. Before I go into detail on how to do this, let’s go over some hashtag basics first. Here’s a little something I wrote for our Solutions page in the RxWiki help desk.

What is a hashtag? 

Hashtags are a confusing element to social media, especially if you don’t spend a lot of time online. A hashtag is a hash or pound sign (#) that is followed by a word or phrase, to identify messages on a specific subject. They can be placed anywhere in your post but are most commonly used at the end. Below are a few examples of hashtags.

#Pharmacy

#FollowFriday

#GreysAnatomy

#ThrowbackThursday

Also, keep in mind that the @ symbol is different from the hashtag. The @ sign will link to a person/profile when it precedes the person’s name or Twitter handle.

What’s the purpose of a hashtag? 

The hashtag turns the group of letters, words, or phrases into a direct link that can take the user to other tweets, posts, or photos about that subject, allowing you to join the conversation about that topic. TV shows, movies, and news broadcasts/stories often use hashtags so that their viewers can discuss behind the scenes but hashtags are also a great way to market your small business.

How do I create a hashtag?

We can sum this up in a few easy steps:

1. Identify what topic you’d like join

2. Start with the “#” symbol

3. Write the word or phrase you’d like to use, without spaces, anywhere in your tweet.

Tip: When you capitalize the first letter of every word, a hashtag is easier to read. This won’t change the topic your hashtag links to.

Is anything following a “#” sign considered a hashtag? 

Nope. Once you enter a space, the hashtag link will stop. For example, if you tweet “#Throwback Thursday”, the hashtag will only link to “#Throwback” not #ThrowbackThursday.

A hashtag also does not support punctuation and other special characters. So if you write “#Throwback!Thursday”, the hashtag will only link to “#Throwback” as well.

You can, however, use numbers in your hashtags. So feel free to jump on trends like “#10ReasonsToSmile”!

Is there a list of hashtags I have to use? 

Absolutely not! There’s no preset list of hashtags, so feel free to make one up for your business. If you’re curious about what to use, search for topics you post about and see what hashtags other people are using. You might be able to Google an almanac, of sorts, but it will likely be simple and outdated.

You can use a hashtag that already exists, like #ChooseBeautiful, one of Dove’s marketing campaigns. Using this hashtag will allow you to join the conversation surrounding the campaign. Simply add the hashtag to your post!

One of the best ways to use the hashtag is by joining the conversation about something that’s trending. Check out Hashtags.org to see which hashtags are trending in real time.

Which social media platforms can I hashtag on? 

The hashtag started on Twitter but has since moved to pretty much every major social media platform. You can also hashtag on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Do I have to use hashtags? 

No, of course not! But hashtags are a great way to express sentiment to a greater audience and increases your page’s visibility.

Sources:

http://mashable.com/2013/10/08/what-is-hashtag/

http://mashable.com/2012/09/09/twitter-hashtags-small-business/

What is a Hashtag? And What Do You Do With Hashtags?

What is a Hashtag? And What Do You Do With Hashtags?

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