While #hashtags are far from being new, they still remain a mystery to many people out there – and using them correctly seems to be a challenge for many as well. Today, we’re going to briefly go over some of the ins and outs of hashtags – what they are, a couple of guidelines to using them, and what platforms they work best on.
What is that pound sign doing in our post?
(No, seriously… We’ve been asked this question before.) Now, while most people actually know that the pound sign before a word is called a hashtag, there are many out there who do not fully understand why they are important. A #hashtag is used on several social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest, just to name some of the major ones) that connects people with common interests and ideas. There are trending hashtags (#GBR), cutsie hashtags (#TheseAreJustForFunAndRarelyFunctional), event hashtags (#CMAawards2014), brand campaign hashtags (#UpYourDance – used by a Papa John’s campaign), and just general hashtags (#hashtag). They are all important in their own way.
Trending Hashtags (#GBR)
These are hashtags that are currently popular for one reason or another. #GBR (0r Go Big Red) is one that is popular in the Lincoln, Nebraska area when the Huskers are playing, for example. These are usually centered around a current event or topic that big in the media or events that are happening.
Cutsie Hashtags (#TheseAreJustForFunAndRarelyFunctional)
These are almost poking fun at hashtags. They are just a long string of words that more than likely, no one else is going to use as a hashtag, which defeats the purpose of a hashtag.
Event Hashtags (#CMAawards2014)
These are hashtags used by certain events so that people can chat or post about the event as it’s happening. This keeps everyone in on the conversation.
Brand Campaign Hashtags (#UpYourDance)
Brands will a lot of times come up with hashtags as a part of a marketing campaign to get their fans in on the conversation. This has been effective in the past, as it allows people to interact with the brand instead of just hearing the message. Be careful though! Hashtags can backfire! (See our blog on the McDonald’s Hashtag Fail)
General Hashtags (#Hashtag)
These are hashtags that a lot of people use, not for any one specific purpose, that can connect you, sometimes with similar topics, and sometimes with a whole heap of other stuff. These can sometimes be effective if you have a very general message, but if you’re really trying to target a specific topic or group, they can easily get lost out in the world of hashtags.
What platforms use Hashtags?
Today, we’re going to stick the major social media platforms that we use for our clients that are using hashtags. These include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterst and Instagram. Now, are they as effective across all platforms? No. Should they be used the same across all platforms? No. Let us explain…
The original keeper of the #hashtag. Hashtags are very effective on Twitter. However, there is such a thing as going overboard. We try to limit our posts to 2-3 hashtags per post and while they’re exceptions to every rule, it’s a good standard to go off of. Otherwise you get a #post that ends up #looking like #this. #cool #awesome #notsomuch #isthisfunorwhat #okaythishasgottostop
Facebook tried implementing hashtags a while back. It was a #fail. Some people use hashtags on Facebook. We put them in some posts for our clients, but not many follow them. Because of the privacy policies of Facebook, they don’t work quite like they do across other platforms, therefore causing them to be less effective.
You can use hashtags on Pinterst, in fact many do, but they don’t quite make or break the network like to do with some of the other platforms out there. Because you can search all types of terms and find related topics without having to use the hashtag, it’s not quite as important. But not irrelevant, don’t get me wrong! It certainly has its place!
Twitter created the hashtag, but Instagram really implemented it well. We’ve found that the hashtag has a whole separate life on Instagram. The rule of keeping it down to 2-3 hashtags per post goes right out the window for Instagram. We believe this to be due to the fact that the images speak for themselves and the hashtags are more of a way to share the images rather than a form of communication. They really make the social network what it is. You can hashtag almost anything to find images with similar subjects in them.
So, there you have it! Some of the ins and outs of the #hashtag and how it’s used. We hope this has helped with your #HashtagMystery and that you can now use the #hashtag more effectively! #HaveAGreatDay! #WeWillSeeYouNextWeek! #TMout.