How to Use a Hashtag
by Liz Plachecki
This is a hashtag. At least when it comes to social media. So, how do you use it? A popular categorizing device on Twitter and newly on Facebook, the # symbol denotes a searchable keyword or phrase. Hashtags make it easy to find and share information on particular topics – users can simply enter a hashtagged topic of interest into a search field to find relevant posts. In fact, there are many popular hashtags that have generated entire online communities. Read on for some best practices for using hashtags on your business’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Keep these three things in mind when using hashtags for your business:
- Select brand or industry keywords
- Don’t hijack hashtags
- Promote hashtags through other marketing venues
You can use a hashtag anywhere in a Tweet or Facebook post, and one of the best aspects about using a hashtag is that you don’t have to include a specific keyword or phrase in the message of your post – people can still find your content in searches. For example, you may be sending a message out to parents of special education students, but your message doesn’t include exact industry keywords words like “special education.” Add the hashtag “#specialeducation” to the post and the message is now searchable to anyone on Twitter or Facebook looking for posts or a community on special education.
Anyone can create a new hashtag at any time. Generally, it’s best to search for existing hashtags on search.twitter.com before creating your own in order to participate in existing communities. The last thing you want to do is bother people who are not part of your target audience or dilute existing conversations. However, there are occasions when appropriate hashtags simply don’t exist, and there is a need to create them.
In your brand’s other marketing venues, be sure to promote your hashtags, encouraging people to use them when they Tweet or post. Simply adding a hashtag to your signage or digital advertising pieces will let people know they can easily connect with you and other social media users who associate with your brand.
Keep in mind that Facebook hashtags are much newer than Twitter hashtags. Some experts predict that Facebook’s adoption of hashtags will make hashtag language more accessible to the mainstream. Other networks supporting hashtags include Google+, Vine and Path. Expect to see more and more in the months to come. For now, make sure you have a good understanding of how they work and try using a hashtag or two in your next post.