#Hashtag this, hashtag that, but what is a hashtag?
We get asked ‘what is a hashtag’ all the time, so here is a basic explanation to help you understand where they are used, why they are used and and how to create them.
You cannot avoid the hashtag. It’s now a common place everywhere we look in everyday life..
A hashtags largest relevance is on Social Media, but you will also regularly see in the following places:
- On Social Media: This is where hashtags have their largest relevance and where the following places below are sending you to, to view their content on their social media accounts.
- On TV: You will also hashtags on many TV programmes either in the opening titles or in features through the programme.
- On The Radio: DJs will highlight hashtags in segments or on competitions.
- On The Roadside: You will see on road side advertisements, large bill boards and shops windows.
- At Entertainment Venues: Typically on posters, in advertising areas, or on screens.
- On Your Food Packaging: As an extended form of advertising and to catch your attention.
- On Streaming Platforms: These could be your music, gaming or video platforms for search and advertising purposes.
- In Text / WhatsApp Messages: As a way to highlight a word or give it impact
How did they originate?
Twitter was the first mass public use platform that adopted the hashtag in 2009. This lead on to become its most prominent feature, that was then adopted by most other social media platforms that followed, which has lead to their common day use.
Hashtags have however been around much longer in the form of ‘tags’ on local community portals, dating back as long as from 1988.
Following the success on Twitter, hashtags then became adopted on Instagram and again plays a huge relevance in the user experience.
Whilst they are also used and functional on Facebook, it is generally perceived that Facebook users do not use them, or place as much reliance or relevance on them.
YouTube is another large adopter, currently allowing 3 hashtags to appear below video titles.
Here are a series of hashtags on Twitter within our company profile. #Marketing #Website #CRM #Video and #Consultancy
What is a Hashtag for?
A hashtag is a topic of interest. By adding a hashtag # before a word e.g. #marketing, or series of words e.g. #marketingsupport, the hashtag will become a clickable link or hyperlink, therefore highlighting it’s existence and demonstrating to the viewer that the person writing the hashtagged word/s specifically wants to bring that word or topic to your attention.
When you click on that word, it will show you all other status updates or profiles on that platform that contain exactly the same hashtag topic.
So what’s is the point?
Well by creating a specific topic, it means that anyone searching for that specific topic can see all the people that have typed the specific hashtag topic. That means you are in a perfect environment to start discussing that topic live as Social Media is real time and engage in conversation there and then.
A business / media outlet will therefore create a hashtag and encourage you to use that hashtag in your search and posts, as you will then be in an environment where many people (potentially millions) are talking about the same thing. This results in attention to the originators brand or profile and gives them increased exposure on multiple platforms through multiple of conversations and opinions.
Hashtags do however remain for as long as your post remains live on the platform you created your post, so can therefore also be found and used at any time in the future.
How to make a Hashtag
So now we recognise them and understand what they do, lets see how we create a hashtag topic. Here’s a simple list of rules to help you start using hashtags for your business.
- A hashtag can be either 1 word such as #websites or a series of words that have no spaces in between them e.g. #fifaworldcup
- A hashtag can also contain words and numbers e.g. #fifaworldcup2022
- A hashtag cannot contain punctuation e.g. #worldcup2022!
- A hashtag cannot contain a space. A space will break the hashtag and clickable link.
- A hashtag is considered a topic, therefore you use the # to highlight a particular topic in your status update (tweet, post etc).
- A hashtag can be used anywhere in the status; the beginning, the middle or the end.
- Anyone can create or type a hashtag, as you are writing your status or post update.
- When you use a hashtag, it will become ‘clickable’. That means another viewer can click on the hashtag word and if for example you are on Twitter, it will display all other tweets (generally anywhere in the world), that contains the same hashtag phrase. The same happens on Instagram and Facebook. etc
- It is generally considered you should use approx 2-3 hashtags in a status or post update within the main content. You can then add more under the main content paragraphs. This is because the message can become confusing or uneasy on the eye to read if you have too many.
- Hashtags on Twitter are also used as a way of shortening a topic or topic phrase. As Twitter will only let you post 280 characters in a tweet, using a long hastag such as #shoutnetworkjointmeeting will take up 25 of those characters, meaning you only have space for another 255 characters to make up the rest of your tweet. To avoid this, you can abbreviate the topic e.g. #SNJM (ShoutNetworkJointMeeting)
- Letters within your hashtag can be in uppercase or lowercase text or both.
So now you know why we use hashtags and how to create them, head to your preferred social media platform and type a topic of interest into the ‘search bar’ using the hashtag and see what results come up.