Hashtags are here to stay. You should know how to use them. Hashtags can be somewhat confusing.

That’s especially case of those who aren’t hip to the ways and means of social media. Nor do they understand the people who use these popular platforms the most.

In fact, until nearly a decade ago, the hashtag symbol was known as “the pound sign”. That’s when Twitter commandeered its use in 2009. It’s a method by which users could reference a topic for discussion.

Since that time the hashtag has grown in popularity. It’s become a valuable and effective tool. It’s used across many of the popular social media sites.

Additionally, its use has been relied upon as a marketing tool. Businesses use it for online campaigns and products. Thus, it’s a call to action and a method for protest.

So what the hell is a hashtag and when should you use them? The answer to that can be found in the many ways. Typically, they are incorporated across social media.

There are so many ways you can and should use them. However, there are also some hard and fast rules. They govern when they’re not such a good idea.

How This All Got Started

Are you someone who still remembers when the touch-tone phone first hit the market? If so, today’s hashtag was yesterday’s touch-tone method.

The latter functioned on voice-mail systems and automated phone calls. Yet, the symbol found wider purposes away from the keypad. Today, it’s a key component of information technology programming.

The pound sign was implemented as a part of C-programming languages. It was made to create shortcuts to keywords and strings in code.

Let’s say, the pound sign was written into that code. Thus, it would act as a signal to the computing system. It’s an indicator as to the sections of code that were a higher priority.

Consequently, the potential for its use was identified by the programmers of Twitter. Now, the pound sign became known as the hashtag.

It’s more common purpose became a way to hyperlink discussions to one another. It’s used among multitudes of user accounts on the social media site.

The Basics of Hashtag Use

Now, the current practice is of employing hashtags on social media. Therefore, it’s utilized as a way to engage with users on a variety of topics.

Often, you’ll see something is “trending” on Twitter. Usually, it comes accompanied by a corresponding hashtag.

Other major social media platforms and search engines are all getting in on the hashtag craze. Though, it originated on Twitter.

Twitter provides the easiest way to search and see what everyone is talking about at the moment. In fact, hashtags have become a fast-track toward getting involved in the conversation.

Plus, they have been developed as a vital and necessary tool. Hashtags get the word out for many things. This includes marketing and brand management.

Additionally, they create an online presence where none existed before. However, now, it has grown.

It’s become such a beneficial and impactful device for social media engagement. Conversely, the hashtag can prove detrimental to anyone who doesn’t use it correctly.

In reality, a poorly planned hashtag campaign can backfire with disastrous results. Don’t let that happen to you. Let’s check out some of the ways you can get smarter about using this method.

We’ll explore pinpointing and categorizing your message online. In doing so, you’ll get the maximum benefit of everything that it has to offer your brand.

Know Your Audience

It’s some good advice for any brand. However, you need to employ hashtags for the most efficacies. Thus, you want to be as precise as possible with tailoring your message.

That means choosing the right hashtag. This is done for the purposes of higher engagement with your target audience.

Don’t be too vague. You may get lost in the millions of users who visit your preferred platform. Let’s use Twitter as an example. You’ll want to design the right hashtag.

Thus, specificity in mind is the key toward attracting a specific follower. There’s some creativity involved.

However, it’s vital to know which words you should use. Your goal is to speak to your chosen audience directly and succinctly.

Think about it. Perhaps, you are a car dealership. You specialize in selling Corvettes. In that case, you wouldn’t use #cars or even #sportscars.

Instead, you’d use #Corvette. That way you’re reaching an audience who is interested in purchasing what you offer.

Be Creative and Engaging

Maybe, you’re planning to use a hashtag to promote your brand. In that case, the last thing you want to do is use the brand name.

It’s lazy. Plus, it doesn’t tell the audience anything. The use of a hashtag is supposed to be a representation of what the brand believes in or offers to the public.

In some ways it’s a declaration or statement that captures your brand in a brief and elegant manner. Go ahead, log into Twitter.

Then, scroll through your feed. Chances are you’ll find at least a few sponsored ads on there. The brands are using interesting or provocative hashtags to tell their story.

Search for some of your favorite companies’ Twitter profiles. Then, check out what they’re using for hashtags. Often, they are part of a specific campaign.

In some cases, the hashtag will be for a specific product from that brand. Also, it may be part of a promotion that the brand is running. Of course, they want to attract attention to it.

In these instances, the best hashtags will provide audience interaction with the brand in some meaningful way. Hopefully, there are more users getting involved with using the hashtag as a way to participate.

For example, Syfy Network asked viewers which Twilight Zone episode they wanted to see. Next, they asked users to use one of two hashtags to cast their vote.

When users did so, the winning episode would air. However, the campaign was also a way to advertise that there was a marathon being aired.

The hashtags promoted the network and the marathon. That, in turn, got viewers directly involved in the event. It allowed them to choose the episodes that aired.

Getting your audience actively involved is a smart way to engage with them. It’s great when users incorporate your hashtag into their posts.

It allows your brand to get a wider spectrum of coverage across the entire platform. This is especially true if they have hundreds of thousands of followers.

That’s because it can bring more eyes to your brand and your product. Actually, it will attract whatever the hashtag is supposed to represent.

Consider Your Platform

Every social media site is different when it comes to the correct use of hashtags. Actually, their purpose is basically the same across the board.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Each of these platforms incorporates them in various ways.

The use of a hashtag on Twitter is designed to help the user. They can search out trending topics and conversations in which they would like to engage.

That’s somewhat different from Instagram. On that platform, hashtags are employed for reference.

It leads users directly to what is being portrayed in the photo or video the user’s posted to their account. Simply put, know how the hashtag properly works on your chosen social media network.

That way you’re assured of the best possible engagement with your audience. What happens if you don’t apply it correctly?

If you don’t, your users will know it immediately. Therefore, they are going to criticize in a negative way as opposed to engaging positively with your brand.

Perhaps, you’re unsure of how to proceed. As a matter of fact, most of the sites offer guides on how to effectively use a hashtag on their platforms.

Take the time to read and understand what is being explained in these guides. In doing so, you’ll be far better off.

Making Mistakes

We all do it. Yet, there is a proper application of a hashtag. Making a mistake can hurt your brand instead of help.

We want to be careful not to do anything that will put your brand in a negative light. Therefore, here are a few things to avoid when using hashtags.

Hashtag Abuse

This is something you must absolutely refrain from doing. When you overuse hashtags or use too many then nothing is special or stands out.

A hashtag is supposed to help your audience find your content. More importantly, content needs to speak directly to them.

Remember, the hashtag is a way to get your content seen. Also, it adds your take on it in some interesting way.

Don’t plaster fifteen hashtags to a post or a tweet. If you do, it’s going to leave a bad impression.

That’s true, even if you think it’s a smart way to reach a wider audience. It’s not.

Lengthy Hashtags

The thing about hashtags is that you want to be clever and witty. Though, getting too edgy or weird can actually backfire.

A hashtag is a way for users to search for a conversation or topic. Thus, you don’t want your hashtag to be too strange or too long.

If it is, people aren’t going to take the time to type it out. Maybe, they’ll click on it, if they come across it in another post.

However, that leaves too much to chance of getting your message out to your targeted audience. You want to be in control of your brand and how it gets to the public.

Therefore, when a hashtag is too long to type or read, most people will ignore it. Consider how a hashtag looks. It’s all one string of letters.

Also, there are no spaces. Therefore, trying to read #thequickbrownfoxjumpsoverthelazydog is just a strain.

Your audience isn’t going to want to work that hard. Don’t make them. Engagement should be fun and easy.

If you have any comments about this topic or suggestions for future topics leave them in the comment box below.

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