The Art of the Hashtag

Hashtag is one of those mysterious social media terms that almost everyone has heard of but many people don’t understand. Let’s have a look at hashtags, their purpose and the benefits of using them!

 

First, a definition.

A hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #. Hashtags provide a means of grouping messages on social media sites, since one can search for the hashtag and get the set of messages that contain it.

So, in a nutshell, a hashtag is used to catagorize a tweet or a Facebook post to help people find posts of a specific topic. If I wanted to see what people were tweeting about Christmas, I could enter “#Christmas” into the Twitter search field. The most recent tweets that have “#Christmas” will appear. Simple as that.

It’s a wonderful way of keeping track of what is currently trending on Facebook and Twitter and to inform others of interesting or important tweets that you may have. Decided to have a contest  to promote your company? Put “#contest” at the end of your post!

 

Good and Bad Tagging

It should be noted that there is good hashtagging and bad hashtagging. Here is an example of an effective way of using hashtags in a Tweet:

BIG holiday contest from your friends at ABC Company! Sign up on our website. #contest #holiday

The tags have been used at the end of the tweet so that the message of the contest is nice and clear. You can however use hashtags in the content itself:

BIG #holiday #contest  from your friends at ABC Company! Sign up on our website.

You’ll notice in this instance that the tags are in the copy. Now while you’re sacrificing the aesthetic of the sentence you are actually giving yourself more characters to use in your tweet (Twitter limits you to 140 characters). If you have a longer tweet than this approach is good.

An example of using hashtags poorly follows:

#XMAS #contest ABC Co. #CLCIK #HERE

A few things here.

  • Holiday is a more general search term than Christmas, and Christmas is a more general search term than XMAS. It’s important to use effective words when you hashtag.
  • Click has been misspelled.
  • “Click” and “Here” are ineffective search terms. They tell you nothing about the company or the contest.
  • The message is unclear.

It’s easy to fall into the trap overusing abbreviations in your tweets and to over-tag. Make sure that your message is clear and that you only tag words that you believe are searchable.

 

Custom Hashtags

One of the great benefits of tagging is that you can create your own custom hashtag for a specific catagory that applies only to you or your business. Here is an example.

One of our favorite Toronto businesses, Kaleidoscope Consulting, owned by Lisette Andreyko, created a specific hashtag to help catagorize all things related to her business and events on the internet – #strategicfocus. If I want to find current information about Kaleidoscope Consulting I know that I can simply type in that hashtagged word and see what the latest tweets are. This is a very clever use of hashtagging!

 

For questions about hashtags or any other social media related questions, please contact us. We are here to help!

 

 

Andy Bush