What Is A Hashtag And How Do You Use One?
Hashtags are old news [people have been using them since the beginning of twitter as far as I know] however; recently I was asked about hashtags so I thought I’d try my hand at explaining what they are and give you a few tips on how to use them.
I’ll bet you’ve seen them; maybe even several times a day. Some of you have even used them; some of you more than others. I use them. The late night talk shows use them. Big stores, movies, fast food restaurants, and my cousin CS all use them.
So what are they?
Hashtags are those short links that always start with the pound sign [#]. That pound sign turns any word or group of words that it is attached to into a searchable, clickable, link. It lets you organize your social media [ie Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest] posts by keywords, they let others with similar interests easily find your posts, and they let you join a global conversation on that keyword.
A global conversation?
Yep; let’s say that late night talk show host wants to know what his viewers think about Kleenex. He asks for them to post their thoughts on the subject with the hashtag #LateNightShowKleenex. So you and about a thousand others around the world log into Twitter and post things like “I think #LateNightShowKleenex are very soft.” Now you have all created the same link and if you search that link or click on it you will see what those thousand other folks had to say on the topic. And that late night talk show host can log in and search that link and see what you had to say. It’s a global conversation about Kleenex.
Same idea goes for any topic, such as those who wish to find a #StockPhoto, a #PizzaRecipe, tips on #FloralPhotography, or #SomethingVeryFunny.
So now we know what a hashtag looks like and what it can do let’s look into how we create one and how we go about using them effectively.
How do you create a hashtag?
Well; they start with # [the pound sign], and there are no spaces in a hashtag, even if you are using more than one word. If you use more than one word group them all together, and if you’d like, you can capitalize each word to make it a little easier to read. A hashtag with a group of words could look like this #groupofwords or this #GroupOfWords.
Numbers are fine so your hashtag could look like this #GroupOf3Words.
Punctuation marks are not fine so leave out things like question marks, commas, periods, exclamation points, and apostrophes. And no other special characters either like ampersands, asterisks, and emoticons. All are no nos.
Tips to use hashtag.
You can use more than one hashtag in one post or tweet or pin but just don’t use too many. That gets spammy real quick. Stick to four or less.
Use hashtags that actually have something to do with your idea, product, or post. Say you are selling a stock photo of an apple pie. You might include hashtags like #StockPhoto #ApplePie #Food but you should really leave out things like #ApplePieTasteGood and #IceCreamIsGoodOnPie. Save those for your food posts not for your stock photo posts. And you really shouldn’t add hashtags like #ElvisLovesApplePie.
Sometimes a hashtag that is simply for fun can add a little humor to a post. Something like “Can you believe this #KansasWeather ? it’s so #Hot outside I could #SizzleBaconOnTheSidewalk !!! #KansasWeather and #Hot are probably topics that there are many posts about. #SizzleBaconOnTheSidewalk on the other hand is just for fun. Hum… I might actually be able to do that out there today!
Sometimes you might want to follow what’s trending and jump right into that global conversation. For example you’ve seen a lot of people using the hashtag #SweetTreats. That’s something you might be able to add to that post about the apple pie stock photo. But if you’re post was about Kansas weather the hashtag #SweetTreats has no purpose being there. Most of the time there isn’t anything sweet about summer weather in Kansas.
People love free stuff so if your post is about a giveaway or a contest or some other promotional idea be sure to include #FreePuppies. If that’s what you are giving away. Or #FreeApplePie would be good too!
A few things to keep in mind when creating and using your hashtags: be specific, stay on topic, keep them relevant, keep them simple, use what’s trending when appropriate, create your own, and don’t over use them.