Today, a hashtag is a label used on different social media platforms to make it easier to find posts or information about a certain theme or which contains specific content. It is created by including the symbol “#” in front of a word or word combination, without spaces.
The pound symbol —also called an octothorpe— was initially used to mark numbers. The first use of hashtags in the form it is used today dates back in 2007, when web marketer Chris Messina walked into Twitter’s offices with an idea. He suggested the company start using the pound symbol to group related Tweets together.
This was the first-ever use of the hashtag:
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
— Chris Messina (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
From Twitter, hashtags extended to other social media platforms too. Today, hashtags are used to aggregate content on the same theme, topic, event or conversation.
Hashtags on Twitter
Twitter Hashtags are important for helping users organize their tweets around a certain topic, being a great indicator of the relevance of your tweets in front of a certain audience.
If they are used correctly, Hashtags can help your small business get discovered and grow organically. If you are planning to launch a marketing campaign centred around a hashtag, to avoid confusing your audience, first you need to search for that hashtag to make sure it hasn’t been used in a while or in a way it could confuse your audience. Use short and distinct hashtags which can be easily added to Tweets.
Hashtags on Instagram
Instagram hashtags can be used to increase brand awareness, offering your audience a way to discover your content. If you don’t have a community of followers yet, using hashtags is a good idea for expanding your reach, especially if you don’t spend money on advertising and you don’t tag other accounts into your posts.
Finding influencers who use certain hashtags to get traction on social media and collaborating with them may increase your chances of reaching your audience and creating a beneficial buzz around your business.
Hashtags on Facebook
Most people don’t use hashtags on Facebook, because it is believed to be detrimental to your reach and engagement. However, experts advise you to include hashtags in your marketing strategy, especially if you are also using them on other platforms as well.
“Use hashtags (1 or 2 only) when they make sense and when you use something relevant that people can filter or to find more relevant conversation” – Ian Cleary
“As a business, cross social platform branding is important” – Collin Cottrell
Obviously, hashtags will increase your chances of being found by your targeted audience. Whenever you include a hashtag into a post, you are creating an opportunity for potential customers, clients, or followers to find that post.
Hashtags on LinkedIn
Hashtags on LinkedIn are used as a way to engage and network with other users. As with the other platforms, you can either create your own hashtags and hope other users will pick up on your trend, or you can use popular hashtags to help you appear higher up in search results.
Since 2019, when hashtags started being used in LikedIn, we’ve seen some hashtags that reached more than a million followers.
Top LinkedIn 5 hashtags in 2019
#innovation – 37,683,010 followers
#management – 35,270,217 followers
#digitalmarketing – 27,286,973 followers
#technology – 25,231,754 followers
#entrepreneurship – 22,221,557 followers
Hashtag Best Practices
- Hashtags start with # and only work if you don’t include spaces, punctuation or symbols
- If the account is not public, the hashtagged content won’t be seen by followers
- Best hashtags are short, so don’t try to use a long string of words which can be hard to remember
- A large number of hashtags would look spammy, so it’s better to use a limited amount of hashtags per post
- People won’t start using your brand slogan in their Tweets unless it fits naturally or you offer them some incentive to do so.
- Check what hashtags people are already using to talk about your brand, and capitalize on those. Also, make sure to check if your desired hashtag is already being used. Ask yourself if it’s still relevant to your brand.
- Partner with influencers which can help gain exposure and visibility for your hashtag.
Are hashtags really useful for my small business in Surry Hills?
Often, people on social media use hashtags just to look cool. But hashtags can actually be used to help brands become more visible within a certain professional community, to encourage people to discuss specific topics and to create engagement organically.
People are actively searching through hashtags on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. So, using the right hashtags may result in a larger number of followers, likes, comments and shares, boosting your brand’s social media engagement.
The use of hashtags may have an important role for promoting small business in Surry Hills, as it creates awareness and drives social media engagement which can turn into a powerful branding tool.