How to hashtag properly
We’re avid users of hashtags in the office, but when you’re not familiar with their uses and benefits it can be a little daunting. We often get asked to elaborate on them when we deliver our social media training for the Hampshire Chamber, so I thought I’d compile a quick guide to set things straight.
WHERE DID HASHTAGS COME FROM?
Up until a few years ago hashtags were generally used for numerical purposes and website coding… Roll on summer 2009 and social media giant, Twitter, start to hyperlink hashtags used in tweets.
In 2010, Twitter launched “Trending Topics” on the Twitter front page, displaying hashtags that were quickly becoming popular due to increased use.
Other social platforms quickly followed suit including Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and even LinkedIn, but they soon quit for reasons unknown. However, lots of chat around the forums pointed at user pressure.
WHAT ARE THEY FOR?
The purpose of a hashtag is to connect people with conversations that are happening socially. This then makes it easier for people to find content they are interested in and engage in a variety of ways.
Using relevant hashtags can propel your content to audiences far and wide, giving you much more brand reach on your posts. You can also use them to connect with likeminded users, start up conversations or monitor trends and news.
Confusingly, hashtags are also used to convey thoughts, themes or ideas associated with the content. This can make things difficult when you’re trying to get to grips with their use!
HOW SHOULD I USE THEM?
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of places to use hashtags, but that’s not to say you should get hashtag crazy all over the place. As a rule of thumb I’ve popped the platforms and etiquette below:
• Twitter – Most popular platform for hashtags, use 1-3 per post
• Facebook – Although they work on Facebook, feedback from users is that hashtags can be annoying when used on this platform. We would suggest only using them if relevant to a large trending topic
• Google+ – When posting content on Google+ it picks up relevant keywords and hashtags them for you, easy peasy
• Instagram/Pinterest – Hashtags are perfect for these image-sharing platforms, so tag away to get your content found!
• LinkedIn – Hashtags are no longer supported in this platform, so using them can look messy and could put people off reading your content
WHAT ARE THE HASHTAG RULES?
• Remove punctuation and spaces – Hashtags only work when the word is continual. Using punctuation or spaces will break the hashtag and only hyperlink part of what you’re trying to communicate
• Try capitalising to make your message clear – Long hashtags, made of multiple words, can sometimes be difficult to read. Try capitalising each word to make it easier for people to scan. Also be wary of how words read when they’re put together! (Susan Boyle’s album launch hashtag caused quite a stir #susanalbumparty!)
• Research the right hashtags – Anyone can hashtag any word, and anyone can jump on a trending hashtag. Before you use one, check to make sure it’s relevant and is not being used in a dodgy way!
• Use targeted keywords – There’s not much point in hashtagging words that will get lost in the millions of posts that are sent every day. Target your hashtags cleverly to get the best reach. Use Topsy or Hashtagify to do your research
Hopefully this post has cleared things up a bit. We’re often posting hints and tips on our own Twitter account so head over and join the conversation.