How hashtags are more than a fad--they are proving to be a powerful marketing tool.
Chris Messina has been given the honorary title as founder and creator of the first hashtag. He explains that his purpose in using the # (pound) was to help gather conversations and online discussions about a particular conference he and his co-workers were planning on attending.
In a matter of five or so years, hashtags have transformed from a relatively unknown jargon used among a handful of tech savvy individuals into a popular and powerful marketing tool.
The quick and dirty: What is a hashtag and how do I use it?
Hashtags are a word, phrase, company name, and or brand prefixed with the pound sign (#). Hashtags originally offered an organizational solution for groups to come together, but has since diversified and become far more robust in its use and capabilities.
Twitter was the first social media platform to gain momentum with the use of the hashtags by a large majority of their user base. Twitter helps to define hashtags as something marking a keyword or topic in a tweet. Hashtags have quickly gaining popularity on other social sites like, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, and Pinterest. Individuals are free to use the hashtag in any way, place, and or form they deem fit, however here are some helpful industry “best practices”:
Combine and Consolidate: Try to use just one hashtag in a tweet or post. Hashtag stuffing can be entertaining and make for some interesting tweets, but the shorter hashtags are the most effective for scanability.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Obviously it is necessary to be original and create your own hashtags, but often the true benefit of hashtags can be found when you use a hashtag to link to an existing topic of interest.
Be Obvious: If you are a business, an event promoter, or anyone trying to give your name or brand maximum exposure be sure to make your hashtag obvious. For something to go viral and gain momentum it needs to be intuitive and make sense for tagging.
Hashtags add organization.
Not only do hashtags help add order to a seemingly disorganized social media landscape, but for individuals hoping to add value or increase their overall ROI hashtags have the power to put essential information in front of the right people. Hashtags are like loud directional arrows, helping to point the attention of millions to a specific conversation.
If hashtags haven’t asserted and proven themselves enough, the roll out of their use by the king of social media, Facebook, should help to drive this point home.
Officially announced on June 12, 2013, Facebook will make hashtags clickable. When you click on a hashtag you will be able to see a pop-up feed of all other Facebook users incorporating that hashtag in their comment. This larger discussion will allow business, organizations, groups, and event promoters to easily discover what other people are saying. To search for a specific hashtag enter the desired term in the search bar and append it with the pound symbol. Your query will result in the ability to see individuals that you are both currently connected with and others you may not be; offering a unique opportunity to connect with similarly-minded individuals and potential prospects. Hashtag research will also provide businesses with insightful brand information, and gain a better understanding of what is being talked about, discussed, and shared.
The businesses that understand how hashtags work and how to use them properly will certainly be able to gain a richer sense of how their brand is being perceived by their intended audience and make the appropriate adjustments either way.
Like a delicious diner breakfast, although not taking center stage to the eggs, a great plate of #hashtags certainly helps to round out and fill the plate.