Last updated on December 22nd, 2015
While hashtags may have begun as a way for social media users to connect with one another, hashtags have evolved to promoting products. In recent years, many companies have been including hashtags as a part of their strategy for optimizing their websites. Unfortunately, many people are still using hashtags incorrectly.
Hashtag usage made its start on Twitter, but the popularity of hashtags has extended to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google + —just to name a few. Hashtags have become so popular that the Oxford English Dictionary has even included “hashtag” as an entry.
The general usages of hashtags include:
- Identifying content and categorizing it
- Convey a message in a small space
- Join a group
- Create a unique hashtag for a reoccurring event
How hashtags will help you the most
Hashtags cannot only accomplish the above list they can help improve the number of people you can reach. In addition, be aware that hashtags do have a shelf life. On average, a Tweet has a lifespan of roughly 18 minutes; thus, your hashtag may be ineffective if it does not reach your audience in that timeframe.
If you want to create a unique hashtag, you may want to consider visiting hashtags.org, which lets you track the trends of current hashtags on Twitter and how any number of hashtags has been used over a 24-hour period. Unfortunately, you need a premium account to use hashtag.org fully.
One thing to remember though is that hashtags can be overused in a post. The consensus is that you shouldn’t use any more than three hashtags in any given post – more than that can make you look unprofessional and the post will most likely be overlooked.
Hashtag usage by social media site
In business, the three most common social media sites you’ll likely use are Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and hashtags are used differently on each site. Facebook allows hashtags, but they’re rarely used.
Hashtags are still most commonly used on Twitter and they are used to help users find topics, as well as displaying the most read/retweeted (trending) topics. Twitter’s format (i.e. limiting users to 140 characters) makes it hard to incorporate all of the keywords you may like to use in your post. Therefore, hashtags can help take up the slack.
Google+ (G+) treats hashtags like keywords and vice versa. G+ will detect keywords you use and make them hashtags. In this way, even if you don’t use a hashtag, as long as you use keywords, you will reap the benefits. Unlike Twitter, G+ has no limits on posts and post are generally well worded and more thought out.
Due to the nature of how G+ treats keywords as hashtags, there will be times you’ll want to highlight a phrase with a hashtag that is not a keyword. This situation is where most G+ users make use of hashtags.