What’s in a Hashtag?

Maybe you’ve begun to notice the saturation of hashtags in every corner of the internet. We find them on websites, at the bottom of every post on Instagram and Twitter, even memes and other parts of our culture. The question remains however, what is a hashtag and how do they help your marketing efforts?.

Let’s begin with the basics, what the hell is a hashtag? A hashtag is nothing more than the pound sign (#) placed in front of a word or phrase. Used on social media platforms these hashtags turn into searchable terms, pulling all other medias using the tag. You will want to remember that you can’t use punctuations in your hashtags. So no, spaces, exclamation points, commas, or periods. Feel free to use capitalization, though hashtags are not case sensitive so #SaveTheWhales will bring the same results as #savethewhales. Hashtags are a great way to find relevant or similar content or depending on the platform, a way to engage in discussion (Hey, Twitter).

Platform use of hashtags varies and while the use of hashtags is certainly more relevant on platforms where visual and audio content is shared we’ll do quick breakdown of them.

-> Twitter: King of the hashtags, or the place where hashtag use is generally considered to have started. Twitter hashtags are used to mark what the conversation is about, i.e. My love of Jeff Goldblum. You can click on the hashtag #jeffgoldblum to pull every tweet made with the hashtag. You can also search by hashtag and Twitter creates a list of hashtags for you based on your interests. So what are you waiting for? Jump in on a conversation!

-> Instagram: The land of visually based content! Hashtag use on Instagram greatly increases the engagement of a post. Hashtags here are used in bulk, or at least groups of 30 per post. Hashtags are clickable and allow you to find similar content, new users to follow and can help boost your own following.
Facebook: Facebook was a late adopter of hashtag use and the use of tags there is still pretty hit or miss. Some brands and users use them, while others leave them to other platforms. Clicking a hashtag on Facebook brings you a list of content with the same tag, but encompasses all users on Facebook.

There are other platforms that use hashtags (Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn) and the functionality of pulling like content is very similar. One thing remains the same, using hashtags can help increase your visibility on these social platforms. It’s time to talk some best practices for using hashtags in your marketing. Following these won’t make you Queen or King of the hashtag, but they will certainly help you on your way.

Make a list. If you are using the same hashtags over each post you make of your product making a list of applicable hashtags will make posting a breeze. You won’t have to remember the hashtag you used last time, and you won’t have to type them all out again!

Be Direct. Trying to grab Jeff Goldblum’s attention on Instagram? Be sure to tag his name in your post, #jeffgoldblum. Take the subject of your post and pop a hashtag on it. You’ll be surprised how many people click through hashtags to see what they come across.

Be Creative. The greatness of the hashtag is that you can literally take any word or phrase and turn it into a hashtag. If you are marketing your travel agency look up the #travel tag and see what else comes up. #jetsetter, #worldtraveler, all can be considered relevant and will help to bring in traffic.

Branded. Everytime you push a post be sure to include your company hashtag. Don’t have one? Now is the time to create one. Use the company name and be sure to tag each post with it. Eventually you’ll have a bunch of posts to peruse, and that means others will as well!

Don’t Go Overboard. Many platforms have limits to the number of characters or hashtags you can use in a post. Make sure you are only using relevant hashtags to the content you are posting. Not sure it it’s relevant? Ask yourself if your audience would click on the tag to find your product, if the answer is no, cut it.

This is by no means a comprehensive breakdown of the world of the hashtag, just some of the basics. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.

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Joe Schaefer
Marketing Director at Digital Marketing Training Group
Joe Schaefer is the Marketing Director at Digital Marketing Training Group. Digital Marketing Training Group offers a business opportunity for entrepreneurs that launches a fully-functioning digital marketing agency with full support and a team of white label, professional marketers who perform the heavy-lifting when it comes to implementing modern, forward-thinking, working digital marketing strategies. Apart from being simply the Marketing Director, Joe Schaefer is also the lead instructor of the 5-day, in-person digital marketing training that precedes the launch of an individual's digital agency.