I stood on the stage addressing over 100 people talking about how hashtags need to be used for this particular contest that I was running. It was then that I hit this moment of realization, the realization that people knew just the word hashtag but not what it was important for or what its utility is or even how to use it properly. Hence, this thought of writing this article came up. So here are a few important things you need to know about hashtags:
1. What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is a word or a set of words put together, proceeded by the hash or the pound symbol. E.g. #business #socialmedia #SMB #SocialMedia4Profit
Though hashtags were popularised by Twitter, they can be used on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and even LinkedIn.
2. What is a hashtag used for?
A hashtag helps to cluster all the messages related to that term in one place. Essentially it makes the term or the keyword searchable. Searching for a hashtag on a particular social media platform will show all the top posts that use the hashtag as search results.
So if you searched for #SocialMedia4Profit in Twitter, all the tweets related to SocialMedia4Profit will show up as Twitter search results. The same is true for other platforms like Instagram, Pinterest etc.
Edit 1: Do note that hashtags don’t work on WhatsApp and hence it is pointless to add them on WhatsApp.
3. What are the Do’s and Don’ts of a hashtag?
a. A hashtag must immediately be followed by the key term that you want to use. Don’t keep a space between the hashtag and the word, or between the words.
For example, if you want to use Social Media put #SocialMedia as collectively one word with no spaces between them. It may be a good idea to capitalize the S of Social and M of Media, so that reader can separate this easily while reading, although it is not a mandatory thing. #socialmedia is just a popular as #SocialMedia.
b. After every hashtag, leave a space. So if you intend to use multiple hashtags, for example, #SocialMedia, #SocialMedia4Profit remember to use #SocialMedia #SocialMedia4Profit.
c. Keep a space before the hashtag symbol and between two different hashtags. E.g. In the above example, there must be a space before #SocialMedia as well as a space between #SocialMedia and #SocialMedia4Profit.
d. On Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn limit your usage of the hashtag to 2 or 3 per message. Don’t clutter it with too many hashtags. The only exception to this rule is on Instagram where it is a norm to use lots of hashtags, though 30 is the upper limit even on Instagram.
Our study shows that hashtags that are a mix of existing hashtags (#SocialMedia) and proprietary hashtags created by users (#AskMerlo) give the best kind of results in terms of reach.
If you have any further questions, leave me a comment here and I will respond at the earliest.
Have a socially profitable day.