How do you feel about hashtags? To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan at first. It seemed like such a millennial thing, and I am not a millennial (no offense meant, I’m just old!).
Today I want to dive into what a hashtag is and how you can use them effectively to promote your blog on social media.
What is a Hashtag?
Hashtags are short links preceded by a pound (#) sign. The are used to categorize things on social media.
But how did they come about and why should we care?
Where did Hashtags start?
Did you know that the hashtag is 10 years old? I didn’t either.
The first hashtag showed up on Twitter in August 2007 when Chris Messina, a social technology expert, posted this tweet: ?how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]??
Then in October 2007, the hashtag #sandiegofire went crazy when people used it to give instant updates on the San Diego Fire.
In July 2009, Twitter formally adapted hashtags into code, automatically linking terms that start with the # sign.
The term hashtag was added to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2014. The definition said: “A word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorises the accompanying text (such as a tweet).”
General Hashtag Rules:
- No Spaces- Don’t put spaces between your words in a hashtag. Instead, you let it all run together like #iswinteroveryet.
- No Punctuation- Don’t use punctuation, that’s pretty self explanatory.
- You can use numbers- Numbers are fine in hashtags.
- Capitals Don’t Matter- You can use capitals when you are trying to separate words, but they search the same whether they are upper or lowercase.
- Keep It Short- Don’t write a long sentence for a hashtag. It wouldn’t be searchable or be of much use later.
- Look at the Big Hashtags for Trends- Under Trends in Twitter, it will give you the most popular hashtags for things you are most interested in. Using these will help your tweets get seen by others.
- Don’t Go Overboard- Too many hashtags looks bad, so just a pick a few of your favorites that make sense.
- Start Your Own Hashtag- You can start your own hashtag for your brand or business, conference or event. Just let everyone know so that they can use it too.
- Don’t use a hashtag just because it is popular- Don’t use a popular hashtag if it doesn’t work with your content. That just messes up the system for everyone.
How do you use Hashtags on different social media platforms?
Hashtags are used in social media to organize and combine relevant posts in one spot. You can search by hashtags and find trending (or suggested) hashtags too.
Here are some different ways the top platforms use this tool:
- Don’t use hashtags on every post. Most normal people of Facebook don’t use hashtags, so you don’t want to either. If you do, you might stand out as a “brand” instead of another user.
- You can use them in your groups to organize posts. Some groups use the #ask or #promo to let people know what the post is about and help find them later.
- If you are doing sponsored content, you may need to use the brand hashtags. Brands love hashtags!
- Because most people’s Facebook accounts are private, the only hashtags that are searchable on Facebook are for businesses and brands.
- Use hashtags that are equivalent to your number of followers. So if you have a small follower count, use smaller hashtags to get noticed quicker.
- You can use up to 30 per post, but most people don’t use all of their hashtags.
- Adding hashtags can help you be found by other users in search, so you should use them strategically.
- Some people prefer to put their hashtags in a group in the first comment instead of the description. This can help clean up your description area.
- You can also use hashtags in stories. This gives you more power to be found by others.
- This is the original home of the hashtag, so we feel most comfortable using them here.
- Use trending hashtags (found in the sidebar) to get your content seen (but only if it makes sense).
- You can use hashtags in a sentence or at the end.
- You can use as many hashtags as you want, but Twitter suggests only using 2 per tweet.
- You can use a certain hashtag to join a conversation with others you don’t follow on the same topic.
- Pinterest only recently started encouraging people to use hashtags. Before that it was a big no, no.
- As of now, only titles and hashtags are showing up in the feed, not descriptions. Of course, this could change at anytime. So use those hashtags!
- Use hashtags to do targeted research in your niche to find what is popular on Pinterest.
- Use them as keywords for search to get your content seen by more people.
- You can use up to 20 on Pinterest, but you probably won’t have space for that many: 4 is the recommended max for Pinterest.
How do you know which Hashtags to use for your niche?
Research! You can do this research in any platform and they will most likely be similar, but it is best if you research on the platform you plan to use.
- Use your normal keywords for your blog and put them in the search with a hashtag. See if that hashtag is being used and by how many.
- See what populates when you start to type in a hashtag. This is a good way to find derivatives of a word for a hashtag.
- Look at popular bloggers in your niche and see what they are using.
- Search for trending hashtags and see if you can fit them into your content (only if they make sense).
- Research large hashtags in your niche to see what is popular and trending.
- Use smaller ones if you have a smaller account to get found by new followers.
- Start using hashtags on Pinterest, now that they are approved.
Hashtags are helpful in getting your content found and researching what is new in your market. If you have an event (conference, challenge, etc) coming up, consider using a new hashtag for your followers. This helps them find each other and connect as well. Don’t go overboard with hashtags, but use them in just the right way depending on the social media platform. This can take some time to get used to, but it will pay off in the end. Happy Hashtagging!
Beginners Guide to the Hashtag @ Mashable
The History of the Hashtag @ Short Stack
How do you use hashtags for your business? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!
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