Recently, we’ve had a lot of clients asking “what is the whole hashtag business all about?” With so many different hashtags and uses for them, we feel it would be beneficial to explain what hashtags are, how to use them and when they best apply.
Hashtags start with the pound symbol: # followed by your series of letter or words you would like to use.
The first hashtag was created by Chris Messina, @MrMessina, in 2007 in this tweet:
“how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”
The founder of Twitter, Evan Williams, initially thought that Messina’s hashtag idea would be short lived because it was ‘too technical’ for the average user. However, as we can see today Messina’s concept is still very much used in everyday life. Hashtags are used at events, in groups, and creates a circle of people with common interests or topics.
For example, say that you going to the Dodgers Opening Day game with your friend and you want to tell everyone that you’re going. Lucky for you, the Dodgers have a hashtag created by their marketing team just for this purpose: #OpeningDayLA . By using this hashtag when you post about the event you are connecting your tweet with the thousands of other fans who have also used this hashtag in their tweet. By entering this hashtag into the search bar of Twitter or in the Explore section on Instagram, you can see who else is talking about Opening Day and connect with other fans.
You’ve seen plenty of posts that have ten, even twenty hashtags attached making the hashtags even longer than the initial caption. While these users are correctly using hashtags, they are not using best practices with hashtags. We feel it’s best to use 1-3 hashtags for each tweet or post and some tweets don’t require any hashtags at all. While using several hashtags can be effective in gaining new followers, it isn’t the best approach for gaining engaging and loyal followers.
If you are asking yourself “should I use this hashtag for my business?” then consider these two variables before publishing.
1. Does this hashtag take ownership of my brand? For instance, if your brand has the slogan “Just Do It” attached to it, then using the hashtag #JustDoIt supports your marketing campaign and your brand message. But this should only be done with a brand name or one slogan. Keep it focused.
2. Will anyone in my target demo search for this hashtag and see value upon finding my content? Sure, people search hashtags like #cool and #fun all the time. However, this is not a very focused use of a hashtag. Let’s say you owned a clothing store on the popular Venice Beach street Abbot Kinney, you would want to tag #AbbotKinney in your posts so people looking to learn more about the shopping in that area could see your content.
One last tip: it’s especially important to keep hashtags short, specific, spell checked, and civil. These rules are important for all account but especially business accounts. For more information on hashtag etiquette check out this great article from the Ad Council.
Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake could use a lesson on how to use hashtags too:
If you are still confused about hashtags and would like more information contact Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310. 526.7493 Ext. 8 to come in for a discussion on how to best use hashtags for your business or personal account.