A Quick Guide to Hashtags
#Hashtags. Synonymous with social media, proliferated across the major networks and yet still massively misunderstand and often maligned. So what are they and how should you use them?
When you place a hashtag before a word on Twitter, it makes that word into a clickable link, which, when clicked, conducts a search for that word on Twitter. In essence, clicking on a hashtagged word in any tweet shows you all other tweets marked with that same hashtagged word. However, you needn’t hashtag words for them to be found in searches – Twitter search picks up on words, hashtagged or otherwise.
People on Twitter use hashtags in a number of ways; to categorise and tag messages (to allow people to have discussions around a theme, topic or event). They are also used for lending emotional or semantic context to your message. Humour, for example, may be misconstrued so people might add the #justjoking hashtag to ensure it isn’t misinterpreted.
Research has shown that any more than 2 hashtags in a tweets is bad practice. #Otherwise #it #may #look #spammy. Advice? Hashtag only when and where necessary.
Facebook adopted hashtags back in 2013 and though many users don’t make the most of them, they are an effective function. Within Facebook, hashtags turn words and phrases into clickable links (similarly to Twitter). The idea is that it facilitates discovery of new people, pages and content.
Our own testing of Facebook hashtags has indicated that, when used properly (to hashtag a topic), posts acquire greater reach, so although people are reticent to use hashtags, they are certainly worth considering. For example, you might want to hashtag your posts with one or two words that act as a labelling system (#marketing #socialmediatips for example).
Similarly to how hashtags operate on Facebook, on Google+ a hashtagged word transforms it into a clickable link which then allows people find and join conversations about a particular topic. Employing hashtags helps to categorise your updates as well as increasing the likelihood of gaining further reach.
Hashtags on Intagram work primarily as a labelling system: by adding descriptive hashtagged words (up to 30) to your posts, people will be able to discover your content when they undertake hashtag searches.
Remember that if you have a private profile, your posts, hashtagged or otherwise, won’t appear publicly on hashtag searches. It is also worth noting that you can only tag your own posts – you’re unable to tag other peoples’ pictures and videos.
Tom is the Creative Director of 3ManFactory (a leading integrated marketing agency based the North West that specialises in delivering high performance cross-platform marketing strategies and campaigns to engage and excite youth demographics) and lectures at the University of Central Lancashire in areas including digital marketing and online reputation management.