Understanding Hashtags on Social Media

POSTED ON: 10 September 2015

You’ve likely heard the word hashtag mentioned before. Maybe you’ve even seen them used on TV or in adverts. The word hashtag has become ubiquitous, however the intended use and function remain puzzling to many.

When you’re getting started on social media, harnessing the power of hashtags is one of the most effective ways to boost your online visibility. In addition to boosting your own profile and expanding your audience, hashtags also allow you to monitor ongoing discussions in your industry that are of interest to you. This simple little tic-tac-toe symbol punches well above its weight and is not to be ignored.

What is a Hashtag?

Hashtags first emerged as a key component of Twitter. They are used to group or “tag” content from a common topic or discussion on Twitter and to sort images on Instagram. Hashtags tend to focus around events, movements and places. Popular examples would include #SuperBowl50, #YesWeCan or the name of your #City. When you publish a hashtag on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, it also becomes a hyperlink. By clicking or tapping on the hashtag, you’ll be taken to a search results page, that shows you all of the other different posts that have included your specific hashtag.

Hashtags and Searching

With so much “noise” online and so many discussions taking place at one time, hashtags help to organize and sort those conversations. By searching for hashtags relevant to your industry and location, you can hone in on the discussions that matter most to you. You’ll also be able to quickly find people and organizations who share your interests.

For example, if you visit Twitter and search for the hashtag #Cars you’ll see that every minute, a handful of new posts which include the hashtag are being published. Every hour, there are well over 100 tweets that include the hashtag #cars.

Where are Hashtags used?

Hashtags are used on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Instagram. It is on Twitter and Instagram where they happen to be most prominently featured.

On Twitter, brands will often create a hashtag to accompany the launch of a new product. When customers end up purchasing the product, they can tweet about their new buy, while including the hashtag. This allows the brand to monitor and share tweets from satisfied customers, a valuable form of testimonial.

Studies have shown that Tweets which include hashtags double their engagement rate. The addition of one extra (but extremely powerful) character can help to considerably amplify your message on Twitter.

On Instagram, hashtags are used to sort photos by content matter. An example of this would be Volkswagen Beetle enthusiasts sharing images of their vehicles. Along with the caption, users will include relevant hashtags such as #Beetle, #VW and #Volkswagen. This allows other Instagram users with an interest in Beetle cars to easily search for, view and like their pictures.

Hashtags are a simple but effective way to build or join an online community. They bring together individuals and businesses with common interests and allow them to share their experiences through social media. When diving into the world of social media, be sure to make understanding your industry’s hashtags a top priority. Harnessing the power of hashtags is just one small part of the strategy that goes into the social media setup we offer for our program partners. Visit our Partner Programs page to learn more about our social media support services and our web hosting solutions.

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