hashtags

Hashtags: What are they and when do you use them?

HashtagsIf you’re new to Twitter, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with hashtags. So, what is a hashtag? According to Twitter, “The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”

I’ve found that there are three main ways they are used:

  • Useful categorization
  • Twitter chats
  • Ironic or humorous commentary

If you want your hashtags to actually do something, you should use them strategically and sparingly. Do some research on your topics to see if there are commonly used hashtags and to avoid un-savory hashtags that may have different meanings than you might expect. Say you wrote a blog article on Twitter tips and you are about to post a link to it on Twitter. Good hashtags to use would be #Twitter and #socialmedia. It’s not a bad idea to wrap your hashtags into your tweet text to save on characters, so perhaps it’s something like, “10 Awesome #Twitter tips: LINK #socialmedia.”

Hashtags are also a great way to start a Twitter Chat. If you’ve ever participated in a webinar or online conference, you know that there is often an associated hashtag with the event. It’s a fun way to keep track of what people are saying so you can also reply, comment, and retweet. Do a couple tweet chats and you’ll notice your following grow, especially if you engage with other participants.

It may not be exactly a “Twitter Chat,” but I do love, love, LOVE participating in @midnight’s Hashtag Wars. If you aren’t familiar, you should look into it. It’s a pretty fun game. Warning: it can get all kinds of wrong!

Finally — let’s talk about the third main use for hashtags — ironic or humorous commentary. This is when someone posts something and includes a ridiculous hashtag for a funny commentary, not necessarily to gain visibility. It’s not a method I would recommend if you are trying to promote your posts, although if it’s funny enough, it might start to catch on! Example: That’s right, I spent 2 hours watching The Real Housewives of NY. #sorrynotsorryactuallyiamalittlebitsorry.

For an overview of using hashtags on Instagram, check out this article from One Gram at A Time: The Ins and Outs of Instagram.

Okay — that’s about all I can muster up on hashtags right now. Does anyone have anything to add? I’d love to chat about this and other social media marketing stuffs. Why don’t we use the hashtag, #justhashitout!

Cheers,

Elizabeth