You have probably seen that pervasive ‘#’ sign called a hashtag in social media posts. However, you are bewildered what the symbol does, or what it can do for you and your social media posts.
You see a lot of people and businesses tossing around hashtags such as #marketing, #business, #entrepreneur. Getting to spot a digital native from a digital naive has never been easier than in their method or ability to use hashtags.
Using hashtags when you don’t have a clue what they are really for may seem like using a curse word in a foreign language when you simply want to say hello.
You see them everywhere in social media posts, comment sections, emails, and many more areas of the web. There are a lot of articles out there describing what hashtags are and how to use them.
However, most of these posts are not geared towards entrepreneurs and small businesses. So, we put together this piece to provide you with information in understanding hashtags as it stands in social media use today.
What is a Hashtag?
A hashtag (#), is called the hash symbol. It is also known as the sharp note in musical notation, or it can even be an empty tic-tac-toe board. Words and phrases preceded by the hash symbol are called hashtags.
The internet has evolved considerably over the past few years, along with the evolution of social media. Hashtags are a big part of this evolution. What used to be a telephone button and a musical notation has evolved into a social media phenomenon.
Chris Messina introduced the hashtag to Twitter on August 23, 2007. Before that, the hash symbol was being used around the web in various ways, more specifically in internet chat rooms. This gave Messina the idea to develop a group organising framework and began using hashtags on Twitter.
What is the Main Purpose of Hashtags?
In today’s social media, the hashtag is used to draw attention and help make content discoverable in searches and effectively reach more people. A hashtag serves as a pointer of sorts for both users and algorithms that a piece of content is related to a specific topic, or that topic is part of a specific category.
For businesses, this would mean that the more you use specific hashtags, you increase your chances of growing your audience. Do change a hashtag if it isn’t working, or you find that your customers are not responsive or receptive to it.
Hashtags provide you with pertinent information right at your fingertips. It allows you to spend less time when you are searching for information.
A warning: Do not overuse hashtags when creating your social media posts. Too many hashtags make your message look cluttered and unprofessional. Putting in one to three hashtags per post is sufficient.
Important: Regularly check your analytics. It’s imperative to know what’s working or hurting your social media campaign. You don’t have to keep on using a hashtag that nobody seems to be following.
Understanding Hashtags In Social Media
To better understand hashtags, see the benefits it can provide you with in the following:
- Hashtags help your target audience to find you. By using hashtags, your posts become searchable by all users on that platform. A lot of people search for specific hashtags, so by using hashtags that are of interest to your ideal target audience, you increase your chances of being found.
- Hashtags are a great aid in research. It’s easier to find great and relevant content by sifting through specific hashtags if you are doing research. Hashtags are generally more focused on a specific topic, as in the case of Tweets, that just mention the phrase.
- Hashtags can greatly improve click-through rates (CTR). Posts with hashtags receive twice as much engagement as those without. Needless to say, you can double your engagement and increase your CTRs by including hashtags in your posts.
- Hashtags bring people with the same interests together. Users with the same interests are more likely to discover one another on social media when they search hashtags of their interests. This in turn allows them to be able to join a bigger conversation and connect with more people discussing a specific topic.
- Hashtags can be used for humour. While a humorous hashtag may not benefit you by getting found on social media, it can most certainly convey or show your personality and can help engage your audience. Adding a humorous hashtag to your regular hashtags is a plus that you should not skip out on.
For businesses, you can create your own branded hashtag that is unique to your brand. It is a way of bringing your communities together and allows you to stand out from your competition.
Notes of caution: You’ll have to make sure that the hashtags you have in mind or the ones you plan to create are not already being used by someone else. Also, it needs to be memorable, especially if you want your community to begin using it as well.
Avoid going overboard in making your branded hashtags. Do not use too many characters or make your hashtags too long. Shorter but meaningful hashtags make it easy to remember.
Remember that hashtags are just an added spice in social media, not the whole meal. They do help and can go a long way, but they can’t save a poorly thought-out social media campaign.
Developing and implementing social media strategies that attract and engage your ideal customers is part of what we do at Accentuate Web Design and Marketing. Get in touch with us today and sign up for our Social Media Marketing and Management Services if you want to engage with your customers and improve your social media reach.
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