Anyone familiar with social media is aware of the existence of hashtags. In the world of internet, a hashtag refers to a metadata tag that is used with a view to help users find content related to a specific topic or theme easily. It is denoted by the use of hash sign # ahead of a word, combination of words or unspaced phrases. The phenomenon that began as a tool for simplifying the process of looking for relevant content in the seamless realm of the virtual world has now acquired the reputation of being somewhat of a fashion statement. The rampant exploitation of the hashtag phenomenon has compromised its effectiveness to some extent, because virtually every conceivable word or phrase has been hastagged by someone, somewhere. However, it is still possible to use the hashtag for maximum impact. This guide of do’s and don’ts tells you how!
How Hashtags Work
Hashtags are primarily a tool for searching relevant content related to a specific theme or topic or to generate discussion on an important subject. These have amassed significance of massive proportions over the years, as social media has penetrated its presence in our lives. Internet searches are no longer confined to search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing; even popular social networking platforms are used to search for content. How do you then make your content relevant in a massive cauldron of updates or find content relevant to your search? Content search on social media sites has been optimized by the use of hashtags. By crunching in a few keywords or phrases, you can optimize social media updates and conversations, thereby making your content more visible and relevant to search results. The biggest advantage of hashtag use is that it displays limitless potential and can be applied across a cross-section of social networking platforms with equal effectiveness.
Social Media Sites that Promote Hashtag Use
The trend of hashtags was first introduced on microblogging site Twitter in the 2007, and has since evolved into a multi-platform trend. Almost all popular social networking sites today allow hashtagging on their user content. Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, and Pinterest, all use hashtags today.
The difference, however, lies in the way these tags are used on different social media sites. Trending hashtags on Instagram, for instance, may not hold good on Twitter, mainly because while Instagram promotes use of hashtags for talking about picture specifications and the photography techniques used, Twitter uses them for generating talking point. So, a hashtag for selfie may work well on sites such as Instagram or Flickr, something like hashtag for Tuesday or #Throwbackthursday is more likely to be popular to platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
How to Make Hashtags Work for You?
Hashtags do for social media searches what keywords do for search engine searches. Therefore, it would be naïve to believe that any random cluster of words with a preceding # sign will do the trick of improving the visibility of your content. If used correctly, hashtags too can prove to be an effective SEO tool. The key is to invest time in some research and find trending hashtags on different social media sites. This will give you a sense of how hashtags need to be crafted and what kind of hashtags find resonance with the audience. If you want to catch the attention of fashion enthusiasts through social media, begin by searching for popular fashion hashtags and craft yours on the lines of the type of hashtags people interested in fashion are searching for. This will help you cut to the chase and grab eyeballs without having to waste time and effort on trial and error method.
It is not tough to find popular hashtags today. There are a number of dedicated sites that analyze algorithms and data from different social networking sites to determine which hashtags are trending and which ones are trailing behind. This compilation of hits and misses helps people get a sense of what works on different social networking sites and what does not. A list of popular hashtags is released on a monthly or fortnightly basis and constantly updated almost in real time. Some of most popular hashtags across the globe for the month July-August, for instance, included #MTVHottest, #MPN, #gameinsight, #android and #GoT7.
Hashtags – Do’s and Don’ts
Hashtags are relevant for your social media presence, irrespective of the purpose you are using social media for. Whether you are here to promote your business or just to connect with like-minded people, here is how the correct hashtag usage can help you become easily discoverable and interesting to your target audience:
- Be Specific: There is no room for vagueness in hashtags as they are meant for a specific audience. Therefore, the first important element for creating a successful hashtag is to be concise and specific.
- Cater to the Social Networking Site: While all popular social networking sites support the hashtag feature, each of them uses it differently. It is always advisable to spend some time in understanding hashtag trends on a particular social media platform before taking the plunge of using hashtags.
- Be Relevant and Original: It is important to keep you hashtag content both relevant and original in order to grab the attention of your target audience. The rate at which hashtags are being used on social media today, your message stands a better chance of getting lost than being spotted. Originality and relevance are crucial factors that can make your content stand out.
- Don’t Keep it Long: Most hashtags comprise a combination of words scrunched up together without any space. Anything that is too long or complex can intervene with the readers’ ability to comprehend the real message. Therefore, it best to choose short and crisp hashtags over long-winding ones.
- Don’t Have Excessive Hashtags: The purpose of a hashtag is to draw attention to your message and not to drown it out. Never go close to using so many hashtags on a single update that it outweighs the number of words in your post.
- Don’t Over-Indulge: There is a tendency to hashtag everything these days. A girl posting a picture in a green skirt, for instance, doesn’t need a #greenskirt hashtag on her upload. It is there for everyone to see. Similarly, not every post requires a hashtag. It is wise to use hashtags sparingly in order to retain their effectiveness.
The right use of hashtags can help you make a favorable impression on your social media audience, just make sure you do it effectively and you do it right. Share Hashtag you’ve created or following regularly in comments section. Stay trendy!