A hashtag is a label for a particular word of phrase that groups together all relevant posts about a certain topic or theme on social media. To create a hashtag, simply put the “#” symbol in front of the word or phrase in your post that you are trying to make stand out and promote.
If someone else uses the same hashtag in their post, it will be grouped together with your post and all other posts that used the hashtag as well. Once enough people are using the same hashtag, the tag will be considered “trending”, making it highly visible to everyone who is active on the world wide web.
Purpose of a Hashtag
Hashtags allow us to organize our content online and easily find information that holds the most interest and relevance to us. When looking through your social media timeline on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., you will often find a wide array of posts with topics ranging in anything from news, politics, memes, funny videos, pop culture, personal insights, and beyond.
Instead of scrolling aimlessly through your newsfeed, you can click on a hashtag that will bring you directly to a list of posts that all focus on a particular topic or subject of your choosing.
If you are looking to protect your online presence whether as a business or individual, you can also track and monitor certain hashtags that are representative of your brand to see what other people are saying about you.
Hashtags are about creating a conversation for people with the same interests and a space for them to interact.
If used in the right way, hashtags present a fantastic opportunity to secure your online reputation and market your brand, placing your content right in front of the people you want to see it most.
Hashtag Do’s and Dont’s
Don’t just guess at which hashtags to use or hashtag a random word or phrase. See which hashtag carry the most weight and have the most activity and engagement.
For example, if you are a photographer looking to promote your work or brand, you may be deciding whether to include #photography, #photographer, #photographs, etc. in your post. Examine each hashtag to see how other people are using it. Someone searching #photography or #photographs might simply be interested in looking at cool photos online while someone searching #photographer may be interested in finding a photographer to hire.
See What’s Trending
Typically, most social media sites will have a sidebar that says “What’s Trending”. Below will be a list of hashtags that are being used most frequently across the world and in your local area. Using these trending hashtags will give your post a higher chance of being seen by a widespread audience. Examples of trending hashtags often include major news stories, celebrity deaths, national holidays, and more.
Make your hashtag as specific to your brand as possible in order to hone in on one particular theme or topic. For example, if you own an Italian restaurant and are trying to promote a new dish or menu item, you may want to include #italianfood rather than just #food or #restaurant. This will allow you to reach out to a more specific audience that is likely to be interested in what you have to say.
While you should make your hashtags specific to your brand, you should also try to keep your hashtags short, concise, and to the point. Using a lot of words or words that are hard to spell can make the hashtag less desirable to other users. Using a simple and specific hashtag will allow your post to be easier to find and shared more frequently while also leaving more room for engagement and conversation.
Don’t Add Spaces or Special Characters
Spaces or special characters cannot be used to form a hashtag. Once there is a space or special character added, the hashtag will break off from where the space or character was entered.
For example, if you were to write “#Throwback Thursday” only #Throwback would become a clickable hashtag link. Numbers must also be used carefully in hashtags. You cannot hashtag a number on its own or begin a hashtag with a number – #funrun2016 is an acceptable hashtag whereas #2016funrun is not.
Don’t Add Too Many Hashtags to One Post
If you stuff your post with as many hashtags as possible, it is likely to be seen more as spam than a useful post. Stick to one or two hashtags per post and use your remaining characters to contribute something to the conversation. When you have too many hashtags, the significance of each tag is brought down and your post will likely not be seen as relevant or useful to other users.
Don’t Overuse a Hashtag
If you flood a hashtag by using it in 100 consecutive posts, your posts may be seen by others, but will be immediately viewed as spam. When an account is seen spamming a hashtag or a certain topic online, many people will block the account and ignore its content entirely. The goal of a hashtag is not to annoy other people in your network; the goal is to try to gain interest from others and create a conversation.
*Reputation911 Reminder* Remember that you can never have complete control over how a hashtag will perform. Even if you create your own original hashtag, once it is put out onto the internet, people are free to take it and use it however they would like. For this reason, it is important to always monitor hashtags associated with your brand to make sure they are sending the message you are trying to convey.