What are Hashtags?

Hashtag Wha…?? Using Hashtags in Your Social Media Strategy

So, you’ve suddenly awoken from a lengthy coma and now have to think about social media marketing solutions. “What is this ‘hashtag’ term I constantly hear bandied about?” you might ask, if your coma was exceptionally long – say, since 1920. Well, we’re here to help!

A hashtag is a social media subject categorization method using a keyword or phrase preceded by the hash symbol #. Its included in a post or comment to highlight and facilitate a search for the post. Using hashtags allows your posts to be seen by anyone that searches for posts with that hashtag whether they follow you or not. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr all use them (LinkedIn, however, does not). If you want people to access relevant information you’ve posted to any of the supported social media networks, using a hashtag is one of the most efficient methods.

There are three types of hashtags that you can make use of:

Content Hashtags

These are hashtags that relate to the content that you’re sharing. For instance, if you shared a fitness-based post, you might add #fitness to that post.

Trending Hashtags

Trending hashtags pertain to conversations that can have millions of contributors adding content here. These hashtags usually have a lifespan and if you don’t have any valuable contribution, your content can get easily lost in the sea of posts found under these hashtags.

Brand-Specific Hashtags

One of the newest features Instagram offers its users is the ability for users to follow specific hashtags that they choose, making hashtags a very powerful tool on this social media platform. Brand-specific hashtags are memorable and unique dedicated hashtags that relate to your brand and can be used for general branding, promotions, events, contests or campaigns.

Create a Memorable Hashtag

There is an art to developing the ideal hashtag. You want it to be unique to your brand and services, but you don’t want it to be so obscure that no one could easily access it. If your brand name is Blitzkrieg Betty, for example, and you want a category for shoe sales or new shoe designs, your hashtag should include some short and sweet variation of your name. #BlitzBetShoes = Good. #BlitzkriegBettyMassiveShoeSale = Bad.

You should also make yourself aware of existing hashtags, since major problems (and opportunities) can arise from jumping on a trending hashtag bandwagon. Whatever you do, do not fail to investigate popular hashtags that might be similar to your brand or interests. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, (hopefully) wouldn’t use the #Ferguson hashtag, because that would be a PR disaster of epic proportions.

Know How to Use Your Hashtags

Hashtag-examples

Once you’ve been bitten by the hashtag bug, it’s hard to restrain yourself. Anyone who’s spent any time on Twitter has seen the horribly overburdened, unreadable Tweet. “#FeatheredFriends #SnickerSnack, @DizzyDean #Charity #UltimateTrampolineChallenge.” Please, please, please – accompany your hashtags by engaging content to ensure your post is worth reading.

Keep Using Your Hashtags

The entire point of the hashtag is to build enough interest to spark a trend, so don’t just use a single hashtag once and then abandon it. Let it grow. Let it blossom into a fully realized social media identity.

Like any marketing strategy or solution, hashtag marketing is best used judiciously, maturely, and sparingly. If your hashtag campaign is successful, congratulations! Just don’t start actually saying “hashtag” before you make a point in normal conversation. #Idiotic.

About the Author: Jen

Leader of the Artsy Geek team and creator of Camp Artsy Geek, Jen comes from a long line of get-rich-quick-schemers. A serial entrepreneur, she launched her first business at the age of 12: a crocheted good pop up. A lover of good design and effective marketing, Jen believes that life -- and business -- should be fun and enjoyable. Life is short! Follow your dreams and train your brain to support your success. We're in this together. Rock on!

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