Once upon a time the "#" symbol meant number or pound key. It still does, but with social media, it's taken on an additional meaning. Whether you are looking to build on trending stories, increase your brand presence, or even just add sarcastic commentary, the power of the #hashtag comes into play. Let's review what they are and how to better harness their power.
First a definition. What is a hashtag?
To people who are new to hashtags, they might seem confusing, pointless, and even obnoxious at first glance. But once you understand their purpose and learn how to use them, hashtags are an amazing tool to help you find your target audience and hone in on brand awareness.
A hashtag is a keyword or phrase followed by the hash symbol (#), that are included in social media posts. There can be more than one hashtag on a single post.
In essence, including this symbol makes the content of your post available to readers reviewing similar topics, even if they’re not your followers or fans. For example, during the World Cup, fans would incorporate "#worldcup" in their social media post to talk about a trending subject. The hashtag appears as a clickable link and which leads users to a live feed of other posts using the same hashtag. Similarly, a simple search on some social media networks will lead to a live newsfeed that pulls in posts with related hashtags. Google search even incorporates some hashtags into its search results.
Now, how do you use a hashtag?
1. To begin, use # symbol and a relevant keyword or phrase. You can insert hashtags anywhere in your posts. Some people like to add them into the middle, while others insist on adding them at the end. It doesn't matter, as long as they are relevant.
2. As an unwritten rule, keep your hashtags to a maximum of two or three when sharing on Twitter. For Instagram, the ideal number of hashtags is five. Always remember to use concise, unique, and relevant hashtags.
3. Capitalization is not necessary for hashtags, so don't worry about those when typing one out.
4. Make sure you do not add punctuation or spaces when using a hashtag. For example, "#don't have a cow" will not work. Instead, type out "#donthaveacow" for the phrase to work.
Finally, how do hashtags work for my business?
1. First, make sure your business profile is public to allow your content to reach people beyond your immediate circle. Then (as long as you choose the right hashtags) you can vastly improve your reach of social media posts to thousands of potential followers, fans, or clients.
2. The key to creating an effective brand-specific hashtag is to make sure that there is no one else using the same hashtag. Make it unique and easy to remember. For general branding, use a short motto or tagline (for example, Snickers uses #EatASNICKERS).
3. When creating marketing campaign-specific hashtags, make sure to give users a great incentive to incorporate them into their posts. For example, you could get users to share posts with a campaign-specific hashtag for a chance to get discounts or win contests. In return, your brand could benefit from major viral-marketing publicity.
Now that you know how far hashtags can take you, make a post and let their power work wonders.