Before the idea of hashtags existed, the # symbol meant the pound sign or the number sign. Now, when you see # on social platforms such as Twitter, it’s probably being used as a hashtag.
So #WhatIsaHashtag? (What is a hashtag?)
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the symbol ‘#’ that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text. The hashtag originated on Twitter and it’s also now used on Facebook and Instagram. Hashtags are searchable and allow people to find posts or tweets that share a common topic. For instance, if someone clicks or searches the hashtag #musicawards, they will see other posts with this tag that relate to trending music awards.
How hashtags can help promote your business
Hashtags are not simply a trendy visual, they are a great tool for increasing your social reach and they help you engage with customers. More specifically, they allow you to join the conversation on trending topics and help build your brand presence.
Join the conversation
You can use hashtags to increase your social reach and improve your brand awareness by seeking out popular hashtags related to your business industry or target audience. By participating in high traffic discussions, you’ll gain more visibility and expand your audience for your business.
For instance, if you’re a wedding planner, you might want to include #WeddingIdea in your tweets (i.e., Twitter post) to reach people who are looking for wedding ideas. Your business can also say something about an upcoming holiday with the appropriate hashtag (e.g., #ValentinesDay).
Brand your presence
You can also create an original hashtag to promote your campaign or content, which allows you to build a unique brand. Branded hashtags classify your posts on social media and allow you to showcase your business and industry to users who click your hashtag. For example, Starbucks used #StarbucksDate across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote their Valentines’ Day campaign.
Some tips on using hashtags
It might be easy to create a hashtag, but it’s not always easy to use it effectively. Here are 4 tips to help you make the most of hashtags.
- Avoid using too many hashtags: A good rule of thumb for Twitter is a maximum of 2-3 hashtags and for Facebook, 1-2. Also, because hashtags are the norm on Twitter, try to always include a hashtag in your Tweet.
- Be relevant and specific: Avoid creating a generic hashtag such as #holiday. Instead, be specific about what you’re mentioning (e.g., #EasterSunday). Holiday hashtags are more relevant when they relate to your brand. For example, if you own a costume store, it’s good to use #Halloween in October. You can also capitalize on unofficial holidays. For example, McDonald’s Happy #SweetestDay!.
- Be consistent: If you are trying to brand your hashtag, make sure that you use it consistently so your customers can find similar posts that you have created. For instance, instead of using different hashtags for the same category (e.g., #AdoptaPet, #PetAdoption, #BringHomeaPet), stick to one hashtag.
- Follow hashtag trends: If your goal is to participate in high traffic discussions, make sure that you’re using trending hashtags. You can see what’s trending on a number of websites, such as Hachtagify and Trendsmap.
If you haven’t been using hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, it’s not too late to join the trend or start a new one! You might even find yourself addicted to using them once you’ve begun.