Remember the last time you had to call a company and enter a PIN over the phone followed by the pound sign? The pound sign has been around for years, but only in the last 10 has it taken on a new meaning. Its name has also shifted, now referred casually as hashtag. But there’s more to a hashtag than the pound sign that makes it a powerful feature in the social media age.
What Are Hashtags?
Simply put, hashtags are short links or words that begin with the pound sign. Hashtags were created by Google employee Chris Messina to group topics together on Twitter. The world was officially introduced to them during the 2007 San Diego forest fires as Twitter users posted their experiences on the microblogging site using a specific hashtag.
Once a hashtag is created, regardless of what social media platform you’re using, you’ll notice it becomes a hyperlink. When you click on a hashtag, users of that specific one in real time on the social media platform are viewable. Hashtags invite communication and conversation online, regardless of location, platform being used, and a myriad of other factors generally limiting conversation.
Basic ‘Rules’ of Using Hashtags
Spaces break apart a hashtag and leave you with unintended snippets. For example, if you were to create a hashtag for our company #madmousecreative but instead use proper spacing, it becomes #mad mouse creative. Now you have one unintended hashtag and two individual words. Capitalization of each word (#MadMouseCreative) is generally used in place of spacing. Numerical characters can be used in a hashtag, but punctuation breaks up a hashtag much like space does.
If you want to add your two cents to an online conversation about a topic or situation, be sure the hashtag is specific. Generic or vague hashtags will quickly sink to the bottom and your input will be overlooked by the majority of people. However, the rule of thumb for hashtags is two to three on Twitter or Facebook; any more than that, and it will look like spam.
Context is key when using hashtags. It is commonly used following a sentence or two in a tweet, rather than a standalone.
How Hashtags Are Used Across Platforms
For those with a public account, hashtag usage means you have an open mic for whatever you feel like tweeting to the world. All conversations are tied into one stream, given the hashtag is the same across users. But remember, a misspelled word, space or punctuation will break a hashtag and make it all for naught.
Hashtags are then grouped into four main categories by Twitter. Top accounts are the accounts that hold the most influence or a high number of followers. Live is everyone tweeting with that specific hashtag at that moment. The news tab groups publishers and designated news sources using the hashtag, while photos and videos are those using results using the hashtag in a caption.
Like Twitter, different users are tied together in one virtual conversation, but with a major catch. Most Facebook users set their accounts to private, meaning if they use a hashtag in a photo, video, or any post, it won’t be visible in searches. Influencers, brands, and publishers are most likely to return in searches. If you want to make your post with a hashtag public, you can change the privacy setting on individual posts while leaving your overall account private.
Hashtags and their use are very popular across the photo sharing platform. But as with Facebook, accounts must be public for the full effect of hashtag use. If your account is private, clicking on a hashtagged photo will only return your uses of it in a search.
How to Get the Best Results From Using Hashtags
There is no steadfast way to get the best results or magic potion. Most successful campaigns follow the basic rules of hashtags. Brands and companies will create custom hashtags for campaigns and use the specific hashtags on all campaign-related media and encourage fans and followers to do the same. This creates more of a digital footprint for the company and hashtag if a random person was to stumble across it online. Ultimately, hashtags are more brand exposure and a boost to marketing.
Let Elevare Leverage For You
It would be easy for us to say that we know social media and hashtags in and out, but do you find yourself using hashtags in verbal conversations? We do. Hashtags and all things social media are second nature at Elevare and we want to help you get every bit of reach from the ubiquitous phrase. Large or small, we create engaging and results-driven social media campaigns for all businesses. Contact us to take your social media game to a new level!
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