Revisiting Hashtags; the definitive business guide.

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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Hashtags have become part of every day social media engagement, but it has been a while since we’ve stepped back to consider the basics of this often underestimated SEO booster. Hashtags are a way for social media users to tag their posts with keywords, which in turn makes them easier for social networks to organise and users to search — this is common knowledge for a digital marketer.

But who first decided to put a pound symbol in front of a word to start tracking trends across social networks?  How can you use them for your business/brand? What social platforms favour the #? And maybe the most important question of all: Are hashtags here to stay?

This article aims to answer all these questions, plus give Marketers a few handy tips.

Hashtags are such a common practice these days that people have started using them outside of their intended purpose. They are used in text messages, chats, songs, advertisements, to the point where parodies have been the one below:

Truth is, when used correctly, hashtags can be a great way to expose your social media updates to an audience beyond just your direct followers. In fact, statistics show that tweets with hashtags receive double the engagement of tweets that don’t use them. We all know Twitter is basically the “Godfather” of the hashtag and that Facebook hashtags do matter. But here’s a quick list of the major social networks that currently thrive on the tag:

  1. Twitter of course. Just scrolling through any feed and more than half of the tweets contain a hashtag. You can find the trending topics on the left hand side of your Twitter stream. The very first hashtag was #barcamp and it was used by Chris Messina via Twitter on August 23, 2007.


  1. Facebook: Clicking a hashtag on Facebook will bring you to a separate page with posts that are visible to you based on the various users’ privacy settings.
  1. Instagram: Hashtagging on Instagram is great if you want to see photos similar to the ones that you’ve taken. Simply hashtag the picture you took and it will create a link to a page with other pictures with the same #.
  1. Google+: Google+ uses hashtags similar to the other sites, but with one main difference. Google+ will add hashtags to content if they think that it is a relevant and popular keyword. There is the option to opt-out.
  1. Tumblr: When you’re creating a post on your Tumblr page, you’ll see an area at the bottom asking you to add “tags.” When you start to type a tag for your post, Tumblr will automatically add a hashtag to the front of it.
  1. Pinterest: The main thing that you need to bear in mind when creating hashtags on Pinterest is that they’re only clickable in a Pin description.
  1. YouTube: Hashtag use within YouTube is most prevalent in the comments section.
  1. Kickstarter: On Kickstarter, sorting by different hashtags can make it easier for you to find projects you’d be interested in investing in.
  1. Vine: As a company owned by the creators of the hashtag, you’d better believe that Vine has included the functionality. As with other sites, adding a link to your Vine’s description will bring you to a page with Vine’s on the same topic.

Hashtag Tracking and Analytics

When you’re thinking of hashtags to use to engage with your audience, it’s also beneficial to look towards your audience. Find the keywords and hashtags that are already associated with your brand, and bolster the positive ones. For example, with something like Sprout Social’s Trends report, it’s easy to find out exactly which terms are being associated with your brand most often.


Creating Your Own Hashtag

Creating your own hashtag can be a powerful thing. If you do it right, and have a lot of luck on your side, your hashtag will start trending among your circle of followers. As a result, whenever someone sees that hashtag, they’ll be reminded of your brand. Here’s a list of creative hashtags on Instagram by topic and an article on 3 ways to leverage hashtags for your brand. It is safe to say that all social media networks are now using #’s to better improve searches by keywords, topics, phrases.  But the question remains, are hashtags here to stay? Seeing as how they have been integrated into most of the popular social media platforms, and social media has entered almost every facet of our lives, the answer is: YES.

All the more reason to consistently integrate this into your social media marketing outreach via content. Look at it this way, if at this point in time you’re not starting or using trending hashtags when you share content, then you’re basically opting out of a very easy way to get your content/industry topic listed in the digital yellow pages, or a more fitting name would now be, “keyword pages” (practically the only way many online consumers search/view nowadays). So even if you’re not a fan of the #, do it for the sake of your content.

Here’s a detailed article on how to use Hashtags on pretty much every social media platform. I assure you that, as a result, your SMM strategy will bring in more visibility.

*Important Note: Excessive usage of hashtags can cause annoyance, confusion or frustration, and may lead people to stop following you. So please, #don’t #make #every #single #word #a #hashtag, just stick to the key words.

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