Hashtags are search words used to tag content on social media so users can easily find it. Wikipedia defines hashtags as “a type of metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services, allowing users to apply dynamic, user-generated tagging that makes it possible for others to easily find messages with a specific theme or content; it allows easy, informal markup of folk taxonomy without need of any formal taxonomy or markup language. Users create and use hashtags by placing the number sign or pound sign # in front of a string of alphanumeric characters, usually a word or unspaced phrase, in or at the end of a message.”
The word hashtag has been added to Oxford dictionary in 2010 and Scrabble dictionary in 2014.
From experience, hashtags can make a big difference to your social media marketing. If used correctly, they have a power to make your posts and profiles visible and popular. When you add a hashtag to your social media post, the social network is able to index it and it becomes searchable by other users, making it visible to anyone looking for that specific word or phrase. When a hashtag is shared by multiple users, it becomes trending and gets even more visibility. The social media platforms where hashtags can make a real difference are Twitter, Instagram and Google+, so when you post on any of these, remember to add or tag a relevant key word with an # sign.
Even though over 70% of people on social media use hashtags, not that many know how to use them correctly. Here are a few things to remember:
- Avoid using too many words in one hashtag – people use hashtags to discover your content so keep them short using keywords people are likely to search for
- Use space between hashtags – sometimes posts will merge a number of hashtags, making these impossible to index
- Keep your hashtags relevant – only use hashtags where it makes sense and pick those that are most relevant to your post
- Hashtags are public – people don’t need to be your followers in order to find your content
- Avoid turning every word in your post into a hashtag – it will look like a spam otherwise
- Make your hashtag specific to the audience you are trying to attract – the more targeted the better
- Be specific, even if that means that you are restricting your reach – it’s more important to be found be the right people than focusing on volume
- Double check the spelling – don’t just focus on the grammar, also add capital letters when you are creating longer hashtags
If you are not sure which hashtags to use, have a look at these tools to find the best one:
Hashtagify.me – offering the most advanced hashtags search the platform allows you to search among 70,867,717 Twitter hashtags and find the best ones for your needs based on their popularity, relationships, languages, influencers and other metrics.
Tophashtags.com – this simple tool brings you the most popular hashtags sed by other users
RiteTag – another great hashtag discovery platform providing up-to-date data on hashtag performance