It has come to my attention recently, through my friends social media accounts, that people don’t yet fully understand the hashtag. In the last 3 weeks I’ve had 2 friends straight up ask ‘what is a hashtag and what does it do?’ And if that wasn’t bad enough, I read people’s responses…confusion abounds!
If you’re looking to use hashtags as part of your online business marketing plan you had better start with the basics of what they are, how to use them and which social media sites use them. We’ll look at each of these three topics separately in this article.
What are Hashtags…really?
To get right down to the basics of what a hashtag looks like, well, it looks like this: #example. It is the symbol once exclusively know as the ‘number sign’ now appropriated as a symbol for social media sites. Using this symbol now marks the words connected to it as part of a hashtag.
For instance, let’s say that my business wants to promote the new widgets by pushing the name of the product itself. I would start using the hashtag #widgets. Every time I spoke about my widgets on social media sites that supported hashtags I’d use #widgets. For instance, you could go on Twitter with a photo of your customers Sandy using a widget that shares the photo and reads:
“Check out our customer Sandy using her new #widget in an exciting way.”
Now someone can click on ‘#widget’ which will bring up all of your other messages in which you’ve used the hashtag ‘#widget.’ It allows you the chance to link messages sent at separate times so that you can link up an entire marketing campaign.
How to use hashtags properly
The most basic thing you need to know about using hashtags, on any platform, is what characters are allowed and which aren’t. Here are the main points for using them properly:
- No spaces are allowed. #GroupAllWordsTogether
- Hashtags are not case sensitive. #thisthesame #ThisIsTheSame
- You can use numbers. #Best20Brands
- You can not use any sort of punctuations marks. #Sorry,Dude
To summarize, once you hit that # you can only use letters and numbers. Really though, what else do you need?
The best thing about hashtags? You can create anything you want! There is no list that you must use, there are no restrictions (besides the ones above) on what you can do. Just take a series of words #PutaHastagInfront and you have created a new hashtag that can help promote your business!
Wendy’s is pushing a branded hashtag of theirs right now on Twitter about the Baconator. It’s all theirs, and plenty of people chime in with their comments about bacon:
Which social media platforms support hashtags
The biggest social media platforms in the world use hashtags. This now includes:
Twitter: The birthplace of the hashtag. It is not uncommon to see a hashtag used in every single post people send out. Sometimes they are directly related to their proper use of connecting with other posts, other times they’re used for comedic or sarcastic effect. Either way you look at it, the hashtag on Twitter is the king of helping you gain followers, and get more retweets.
Related Post: Why Your Business Doesn’t Have Any Followers on Twitter
Hashtags are used so often on Twitter that the sidebar lists popular hashtags in the ‘Trends’ sidebar. This can be an opportunity for your business to find a relevant and popular topic to attach your brand to. Emphasis is on ‘relevant.’ Spamming Twitter users leads to righteous trolling that you don’t need!
Facebook: Facebook was late to the hashtag game, only adding it in June of this year. It is not a very popular forum for the hashtag yet as most people are use to the way they’ve been using Facebook for years – and that hasn’t included hashtags. Despite it’s lack of popularity it still works fine, and once you click on a hashtag it brings up all others, regardless of whether or not you’re ‘friends’ with someone.
Instagram: This new site is well suited to hashtag use as it was incorporated early on. Many people use hashtags on Instagram to help them discover cool new images and the accounts attached to them, as well as find new followers for themselves. Businesses with a great Instagram account can find many new followers with proper hashtag use. Tumblr and Vine also are used in a very similar manner.
Pinterest: Pinterest is also a newer site that has used hashtags effectively. You can use hashtags on a pin to help sort content for interested users. Once someone clicks on a hashtag they are shown all other hashtags with that exact wording, along with other content with similar words and phrases that aren’t hashtagged.
Related Post: Promoted Pins are Coming: Prepare your business!
Google+: It should come as no surprise that the Kings of Search are in on hashtags. Clicking on a hashtag in Google+ will bring up the original hashtag and posts with similar tags and keywords. The results will break down into the left side of the page containing Google search results, while the right side shows results that are on Google+ exclusively. You can also sort them by results in Facebook or Twitter.
Those are the basics in this first part on using hashtags to promote your business and grow your online marketing plan. Part 2 will link up shortly and look at tone and strategy while focusing even more on your business.
Feature image via ipag / Shutterstock