HASHTAG HERE, HASHTAG THERE

The Hashtag (#) was born on Twitter on 23rd of August in 2007 when open-source advocate Chris Messina tweeted “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups? As in #barcamp [msg]?

The main goal of the Hashtag is to turn a word into a searchable link, allowing to organize content and track discussion topics based on a specific keyword. Nowadays, hashtags are used on different social media platforms like Google+, Instagram & Pinterest. Facebook introduced hashtags in 2013. So did LinkedIn, but the same year LinkedIn decided to remove the functionality without really explaining why.

Hashtags are very popular, otherwise all those social media channels wouldn’t have introduced them. They can also increase the reach of your updates, so let’s dive into how to hashtag!

HOW TO HASHTAG

1. Research 

As mentioned above, hashtags allow people to easily search for posts, pictures, or tweets about a certain topic. For example, if I want to see cute animals on Instagram, I search for the hashtag #petsofinstagram (you should hear me go ooooooh and aaaaaaaaaaaaaah).

If you’re writing content for your business or brand, you probably want to reach more people than only the people who follow you. Therefore, it’s very important to use relevant & common hashtags, and this requires some research. Check what hashtags other businesses in your field are using. If you’re, for example, a travel company that’s active on Twitter, you’ll want to use related hashtags like #ttot (= Travel Talk on Twitter), #travel and #tt (= Travel Tuesday) so users will find you when they search for those keywords. But make sure not to misabuse hashtags.

When you tweet about a new Facebook Advertising update, and you use the hashtag #Facebook this might be too generic. #socialmediatips and #smm (which stands for social media marketing) might be better choices, but this is something you can only discover by typing in keywords or hashtags in the search functionalities of your social media platforms. Inventing hashtags therefore makes no sense, except for contests and specific campaigns that you set up where people, for example, need to post a picture somewhere and tag it with your campaign hashtag.

2. Don’t overdo it

When you use too many hashtags, your posts will become difficult to read, and they will look like spam: don’t use too many hashtags. A good guideline is to limit yourself to a maximum of three hashtags. Exceptions to this guideline are Instagram (& Vine), there it’s ok to go wild with hashtags since the image (or video for Vine) is most important. However, make sure then that your Instagram account isn’t linked to other platforms to post automatically on Twitter, for example.

3. Orthography

In some cases, your hashtag consists out of multiple words like, for example, the hashtag #socialmediamarketing > you can’t put spaces between these words or this would break the link and only the first word would be tagged/linked. To increase readability, you can use capital letters: #SocialMediaMarketing. Another good reason to use capital letters is to avoid confusion, like with the hashtag #susanalbumparty that was used a long time ago to launch a new album by singer Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle Twitter Hashtag Issue

4. Placement

Though it’s less character consuming to hashtag words in your sentence, in most cases it influences the readability, so when possible, put your hashtags at the end of your sentence.

5. Keep them short

This rule is especially important for Twitter: a lot of people seem to think that they need to use the 140 characters that they get. However, it’s better to use less characters so that people can easily RT or even comment on your tweet.

Still questions related to hashtags, or a good tip to add to this list? Please don’t hesitate to let me know via a reply or via kel@sobuzzy.be.