A Facebook friend recently asked me what a hashtag is and why are they so important to incorporate as a social media tactic. And with the recent Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake #hashtag skit, it seems more than appropriate for me to do a #hashtag 101.
The definition of a Hashtag
Used on social media platforms (originating on Twitter and Instagram and now on Facebook), a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) that is used to identify messages on a specific topic, theme or trend. Hashtags provide a means of grouping social posts, tweets and messages, since you can search for the hashtag and get the set of messages that contain it.
How to Use Hashtags
If you are posting on Twitter and Instagram without using a hashtag strategy, you are simply talking to yourself and to those that already follow you. By incorporating relevant and popular hashtags, you can talk to those outside of your current circle of influence, thus reaching new eyes and potentially new followers/customers.
– Choose your hashtag based on what general people (who are not aware of you, your brand, your blog or your product) would search for in addition to your brand specific hashtag (i.e., #shoes, #heels, #pumps and #style instead of just #yournewbrandofstylishshoes).
– The same goes for special campaigns, sales, programs, events, etc. Use your own custom hashtag along with a mix of popular and relevant categories and phrases (i.e., #coffee, #caffeine #cupofjoe, #wakingup #riseandgrind #yourcity #yourspecificcoffeeshopname).
– I often use Hashtagify to lookup popular hashtags, their related hashtags and how much they are trending to inform my choices.
– Don’t go overboard with your use of phrases. You just sound funny as confirmed by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake below. Not only are they useless, but they can also be annoying. #aintnobodygottimeforlonguselesshashtags