How active are you on Social Media?
Take a moment now to tally up the number of accounts you are actively using…I’m on 5 at the moment (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest) and you know what? That number will probably double in the next 12 months as my exposure to new platforms increases.
No matter your level of involvement and the number of platforms you’re connected to in the Social Media world, whether you’re a novice or an addict, you would have no doubt noticed the use of an odd little symbol…
A Hashtag is a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content.
A short link of a word or group of words preceded by the (#) symbol may seem confusing and unnecessary, but they are integral to the way we communicate on the world wide web.
WHERE IT CAME FROM
The Hashtag’s widespread use came from Twitter developer Chris Messina in 2007 as a way for Tweeters to group topics using the (#) symbol.
What I came across next in my Hashtag research shocked me – Twitter initially rejected this idea from Messina. But later that year a number of journalists covering a fire in San Diego, at Messina’s suggestion, tweeted regular updates using the Hashtag #SanDiegoFire.
And just like that, the #Hashtag was born.
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY USE A HASHTAG
This rule goes against everything you’ve been taught, but I’m sorry to say that you cannot put spaces between words in a Hashtag. If you want to differentiate between words, you can use capitals.
Uppercase letters will not alter your search results, so searching for #BigBlueDigital will deliver the same results as #bigbluedigital.
While numbers are supported in a Hashtag, punctuation marks are not.
(You can almost hear the screams of horror from your high school English teachers, can’t you?)
So this rules out including commas, periods, exclamation points, question marks and apostrophes in your Hashtags.
There are no preset list of Hashtags. Anyone can create a new tag by simply putting the (#) before a series of words – if it hasn’t been used before, you’ve invented a hashtag!
Most major Social Media platforms support hashtags, including:
- Twitter – These are mainly used to indicate specific conversation topics, the “Trends” you see on the sidebar of your Twitter feed.
- Facebook – A late bloomer in the Hashtag department, users can click on Facebook Hashtags which will then take you to a list of posts containing the same Hashtag.
- Instagram – Instagram users can complement photos shared on Instagram and help you discover new accounts to follow and grow your own following too. Hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday were created specifically for Instagram users.
- Google+ – When you click on a Hashtag in Google+, the search results will include the original Hashtags well as posts with similar tags and keywords.
- Tumblr – Tumblr posts have a special “Tag” section where you can enter tags. These tags function like Twitter Hashtags, organising posts by topic, but the hash symbol is inserted automatically.
- Pinterest – A Hashtag in a pin description helps to navigate results that contain the exact hashtag, along with pins with the same word or phrase in the description.
HASHTAGS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
You’ll find more and more businesses using Hashtags for their online activity. (We love a good Hashtag at Big Blue Digital!)
If you want to use Social Media as a part of your Digital Strategy with us, I recommend the following tips:
- Consolidate your accounts to represent your brand or business.
- Use relevant Hashtags and see what other businesses in your field are using.
- Follow trends to see what is popular and if it is relevant to your business.
- Create your own Hashtag for your brand, or a specific event or campaign.