What the Heck is a Hashtag

by | Sep 12, 2013 | SEO, Social Media Marketing, Web Development

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You’ve seen them on social media, the words with the pound symbol in front of them.  If you’re a regular visitor to Twitter, then you’re familiar with this social shorthand.  But, as more and more social platforms adopt this search word organizer and more and more TV personalities tell you to “hashtag” something, you may be asking yourself , “What the heck is a hashtag?”

A hashtag is a word that is preceded by the # symbol.  Hashtags provide a way for social media users to be part of a trending keyword as it is being posted.  For example, if I hashtag the words “Internet Marketing”,  as in #internetmarketing, others can then search for that term and trending content. The # symbol groups all of these like terms together, making it easier for searchers to bring order to the chaos of social media posting.  By hashtagging a word or phrase, a user can increase exposure and invite others an online social conversation.

 

 

How Do I Use a Hashtag?

Hashtags are a great way for organizing information on the web and for building and participating in trends.  However, if I overuse them or if I use them with non-relevant words, they won’t work for me.  For example, if I hashtag common, ordinary, everyday words like #house, #we, #computer, I’m using something too broad for others to search that doesn’t create a trend.  Social media users hashtag important terms that others relate to.  So, if I hashtag currently trending terms, like #NFL and #NationalFootballLeague at the start of the season, then I’m able to join the conversation with like-minded individuals.

When Should I Use Hashtags?

  1. Subject-related hashtags in a post help others find relevant content.  When I want to increase my following as an industry thought leader, I’ll add subject hashtags like #football, #fallsports, etc. These tags are clickable and lead others back to my content, increasing my following and my standing in social circles.
  2. Event-related hashtags help to be part of that event.  If I am attending a convention, festival, or meeting, hashtagging that event will include me in the social sharing of that the event.  Those who can’t make the event can follow me and others who are there.
  3. Context-related hashtags in a post orient the post to that context.  If I’m posting about my city, then I’ll add #mycity to give a geographic point of reference for those searching for that context.

What to Remember Most about Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to share information, to increase social interaction and to follow trends.  However, using too many in a post looks like the writer is trying too hard.  Many social users see too many hashtags as spam.  Additionally, hashtags work by grouping words after the symbol.  The hashtag, #InternetMarketing, is not the same  as #Internet Marketing.  Finally, relevant hashtags are ideal for starting and following a social conversation; however, as with anything, moderation is best.  Social media is for sharing, and hashtagging correctly makes sharing simple.

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