Thursday, 17 September 2015

Understanding And Effectively Using A Hashtag #

Hashtags are like keywords that can be used to organize messages on a social network. A hashtag is only a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find information. To understand hashtags you need to understand social search.  For example 

Just imagine that there are a number of people who are searching on specific topics (without knowing anyone on Twitter.) How do they find out who is tweeting about the things that they care about?  They use social search engines (as demonstrated above.) Google also incorporates hashtag search but the social search example above ONLY searches hashtags.

Therefore, when we employ the use of hashtags we are really only tagging things that people are (potentially) searching for.
Adding a hashtag therefore facilitates the searching and grouping of messages with their given hashtags.  The real power of hashtags comes from other people using the same keyword(s) so that by clicking on a hashtag you can get a group of other messages on that topic. 

Hashtags should make your messages easier to organize and find. The trick is to hashtag keywords that you think other people would use when looking for the content contained in your message. You can do a quick search for keywords prior to posting your message to see which hashtags are popular (called “trending”). 

People typically use hashtags to: 
  • Identify places, things, or brands or events: #Hawaii #Ferrari #CoolEvent  
  • Connect with like-minded individuals: #CatLovers #TVaddicts

There are really only two reasons we employ hashtags: 
  • Organize content 
  • Increase exposure

These are obviously compelling reasons to use hashtags on your personal messages. They are even more compelling when it comes to using social media to promote your business. 

Three common mistakes to avoid: 
  • Hashtagging every word (i.e. #I #am #so #excited #today)  
  • Hashtagging the same word more than once (i.e. It is my #birthday. Here is a photo of my #birthday cake, my #birthday presents, and my awesome #birthday party!)  
  • Separating keywords. If your keyword is “black cat” your hashtag should be #BlackCat. If you write it as #Black #Cat this will give you two different keywords: “black” and “cat”.
The most effective use of hashtagging is when you first search and see what is trending.  If you can add a (relevant) trending hashtag to a post you’re effectively then entering a much larger conversation (and will naturally have much higher exposure.)

Anything you post with the word Canada in it (for example only) should be #Canada. Use the hashtag search and search for #Canada – and the social search engine will aggregate everyone's posts using the hashtag #Canada.  In a business environment, for example, if you worked as a marketer for Dyson, you may be reaching out to people using #vacuumcleaners (or whatever the most relevant hashtag was related to vacuums. 

Imagine in the Arab Spring when Egyptians were trying to overthrow their government.  If the people were limited to sharing information ONLY with those they know and follow on Twitter – very little information could be shared and little could be accomplished.  But if they searched for and followed the hashtag most relevant to the uprising (#arabsping for example,) and everyone was posting updates, news, and information using the hashtag #arabspring – you can start to see just how powerful hashtags are to aggregating and disseminating information.

Lastly, and you can of course experiment as you choose, but I was also lead to believe that there should never be more than three hashtags in any post. Keep it relevant and logical based upon what topics you think people are searching for.  

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Goodbuzz is a digital agency based in Toronto, Canada. We help brands create and capture value from emerging trends in technology, society and the workplace. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.  Or contact us at and let us know how we may be of assistance to you.